WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Danny Hall spends most of his spare time at the Brayton Cemetery.
The Warwick resident maintains the cemetery by cutting the grass, pruning trees and making any necessary repairs.
It’s all part of a promise he made to his father, Robert Darigan, who passed away in February 2020 at the age of 87.
“He was humble and quiet, but quick-witted,” Hall said of his late father. “Not a big talker, but if you met him, you would instantly like him.”
Hall said tending to the Post Road cemetery had been part of his father’s routine since 1998.
Darigan, alongside his late friend Emmett Reinhardt, would spend anywhere between 20 and 30 hours a week at the cemetery, according to Hall.
“He spent a lot of his life up here,” Hall said.
For a long time, no one knew Darigan and Reinhardt were behind it.
“A lot of the people who are resting here don’t have any living relatives to come up and maintain it,” Hall explained. “He didn’t do it for the attention or the praise or anything. He did it because he felt it was right.”
In the weeks leading up to his death, Hall said his father worried for the cemetery’s future.
“He was very worried about what would happen up here,” Hall recalled. “Who would take care of it? Would all of the work done over the years go to waste?”
Hall reassured his father the cemetery would be in good hands.
“I always told him I would come here with other volunteers,” he said. “I told him we’d do what we could to maintain what he had done over the years.”
Hall said the way his father lived his life left a lasting impression on him, which is another reason why he’s been caring for the historical cemetery over the last two years.
He described the work as therapeutic.
“I can hear him,” Hall said. “I feel like he’s close by. I know he would be proud of all of the work that’s been done here [since his passing].”
“I wish he was still here talking to me, or even yelling at me, ‘you’re doing it wrong, kid. You’ve got to do it this way,'” he continued.
But Hall is now doing it his way, hoping to make his father’s final resting place as peaceful as possible.
“It’s my way of grieving,” he said. “Some days are much harder than others. But when I do come here, I can feel him.”
The base of Darigan’s grave reads: “Catch ya later, kid.” It’s a saying Hall holds close to his heart.
“For my entire life, that was his way of saying, ‘goodbye, I love you,'” Hall said.
Hall recruits 30 to 40 volunteers twice a year to participate in a semiannual clean up. The rest of the year, he mostly maintains the cemetery himself.