The Stone Memorial Story
This artistic memorial mosaic is created of natural stone. It rests over the grave of John Ledbetter in Asheville’s historic Riverside Cemetery.
John Winslow LedBetter was a beloved husband, father, doctor and Scoutmaster. He passed away in March 2011 and is dearly missed by family and friends. That summer his widow Gwenda approached me about creating a memorial to him. The original idea was for a cairn, as a symbol of John’s endless love for the mountains. The idea resonated but presented challenges at the cemetery, where a single boulder looms over a neighboring gravesite. With the vertical space already claimed, we opted to paint on a horizontal canvas.
Designing the Stone Memorial
During the first conversation I had with Gwenda about the project, she gave me a simple card that was shared with everyone at John’s funeral. She noted with some pride that the sketch was a logo that John had drawn for his Scout troop. The iconic hiker image became the starting point of my stone memorial mosaic design.
The gravesite, in the historic Riverside Cemetery in the Montford section of Asheville, is long and lean, at 4′ by 10′. This had a significant impact on how I drew the stone memorial design. The hiker rests briefly, taking in the sun setting over the Blue Ridge Mountains. The original artwork has an everyman silhouette, which I have replaced with John’s profile, drawn from pictures his family provided.
Creating the Stone Memorial
I used full sized templates to accurately cut pieces for the stone memorial. In this image I am preparing to cut Absolute Black granite for hiker’s feet.
I used a variety of different abrasive tools to clean up the edges and hone the shapes of the mosaic stones.
I pre-assembled the memorial mosaic as I cut each stone. This allowed me to get the ideal fits between stones.
Installing the Stone Memorial
The first step of installing the stone memorial was to set the edging. Here, my helper Gary digs trenches. We bedded the stones in cement and held them in place with wooden jigs while they cured. In the background you can see the stone bench we built.
Piece by piece I laid the stone into the edging. I used gravel as my base to promote drainage and ensure a long, long life for the memorial mosaic.
The Stone Memorial
In July 2012, WNCW interviewed me about the piece and the story behind it. Check it out!