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Hawthorne Graveyard Gets Unusual Visitor

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Terry Marotta-LoPriore insists that she isn't crazy, but does admit that her grave-visiting service does draw quite a few skeptics.

"I hesitate before I tell this story and I always qualify it with 'I'm not crazy' because I'm not," she said.

Walking through the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne is something Marotta-LoPriore has been doing as exercise for years. It wasn't until this past June that she got the idea to turn it into a business and help others with her visits.

It was the voice of her father in her head that originally gave Marotta-LoPriore the idea for the business. During one of her visits to the graveyard she heard her father's voice telling her she needed to use her visits to help others.

Marotta-LoPriore offers a service in which she'll visit various grave sites for clients who, for one reason or another, can't make the trip themselves.  She charges $25 for trips in Westchester County and $35 for trips to Putnam County. She says that she enjoys the work because graveyards are not meant to be dreary and depressing places.

"Cemeteries are really for us," Marotta-LoPriore said. "It's a place for us to grieve. It's a place for us to go enjoy the memories."

Whether its delivering flowers, saying a prayer or helping keep a tombstone's surrounding area clean, Marotta-LoPriore offers to do whatever her clients need. Some of her clients are older and have difficulty getting to the cemetery, whereas others are out of town and want her to go check on the site.

The self-described humbling experience has garnered only positive feedback from clients, according to Marotta-LoPriore. While the business is quite different from her work as a paralegal in Hastings, she just wants to spread the word and offer her services for anyone who needs them.

"The way it came to me was through craziness, but the reality of the business is that it's a legitimate business and it does serve a legitimate purpose," she said. "And for that I'm thankful."

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