“Andreatta: Digger of 1,500 graves gets his due”

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This May 15, 2015 article on the Democrat & Chronicle site talks about a memorial service to be held to honor Lawrence Mocha who had dug 1500 graves by hand during his time as a patient at Willard State Hospital where he eventually died and was also buried.  I feel like this is a victory of sorts that gives some dignity back to people with mental illnesses who have lived and died in state hospitals.  Every human deserves to be buried with dignity and be recognize as more than a number, which is what will be happening for Lawrence Mocha.  Hats off to all who worked to give Lawrence a bit of dignity back to him.

“It’s official: Ceremony for Mocha, others in May”

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This March 22, 2015 Finger Lake Times article talks about a victory for a group that has worked to get recognition for not only the work that Mr. Mocha did as a gravedigger during his time at Willard State Hospital in New York, but to also offer some respect for other patients buried there as well.  This has been an ongoing uphill struggle for this group, but they have made some progress, and Mr. Mocha who dug 1,500 graves and wasn’t paid for his work will now get some recognition and be given the respect he and the other patients buried there deserve but until now hadn’t gotten.

“No Longer Anonymous: Gravedigger Gets His Due at a Psychiatric Hospital”

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This December 22, 2014 New York Times article talks about the ongoing passionate debate over whether or not a patient who died at the now closed Willard State Hospital in New York state that had served as the gravedigger for the hospital  and hand dug over 1,500 graves for fellow patients who also died there.  A group has wanted to place a plaque to honor Mr. Mocha for his work and give him at least a little more dignity and respect than what they felt a plaque with a number on it offered.  The state of New York finally allowed the new plaque honoring him to be placed after a living relative was found and allowed to read over the news articles about their deceased relative.  The article indicates that this doesn’t mean that there has been a change in policy, and says that to do more, for those buried with numbers for grave markers, a change in law would be needed.  The article details the issue more than I have here, but I feel that this is a small yet significant victory for the group who wanted to honor Mr. Mocha for his work as an unpaid gravedigger for Willard State Hospital.

Seal of New York.

Seal of New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Allow memorial plaque for Willard state hospital grave-digger Lawrence Mocha!”

Petition Link

This Petition was started by people who want to see a man who spent a huge portion of his life digging grave for patients who died at Willard State Hospital.  Lawrence Mocha never received pay for any of the graves he dug.  The folks who started the petition want to place a plaque at the Willard State Hospital cemetery to honor the life of Lawrence for his service to the state hospital.  so far , the state of New York has refused to allow this citing “confidentiality” despite the fact that information the people want to include on the plaque came from public sources such as the census and social security records.  The folks have been struggling to get this plaque placed for sometime now and are asking that anyone who supports the idea of not only Lawrence Mocha being offered the dignity of being recognized as having value, but also the recognition of the many many others who are buried in nameless grave in state hospital cemeteries not just at Willard State Hospital but elsewhere as well.

The book titled “The Lives They Left Behind” includes the story about Lawrence Mocha’s work as a grave digger for Willard State Hospital, and also has stories about the lives of other patients who were at Willard State Hospital as well.  Th book is well worth the time it takes to read it, and reads fast.

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