Turning Angel is back intact

Published 3:25 pm Monday, September 7, 2020

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The Turning Angel memorial is back intact at the Natchez City Cemetery after Emily Ford of Oak and Laurel Cemetery Preservation in New Orleans completed repairs Monday that had begun last weekend.

The Turning Angel was damaged in an act of vandalism in June when it was toppled from its pedestal.

Natchez Police arrested Austin Petty, 20, of Crosby soon after the incident. Petty had reportedly climbed onto the statue at night and rocked it back and forth when it fell over onto its wings, breaking the statue’s right wing off.

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Ford had said the repair process went smoothly last weekend when they drilled pinholes to secure the pieces of the Angel’s wings back in place. They returned this weekend to complete the work.

The angel’s repaired wing was covered with a plastic tarp until approximately noon Monday when the tarp was removed to reveal the completed work. Only a small fracture line is visible on the back of the angel’s right wing where it was repaired.

Ford has said a color differentiation will be visible for a while, and the body of the Angel was washed clean but the part of the wings that broke off has not been cleaned and appears darker.

“The pieces are going to wind up lightening up. …” Ford said.

The cost of the repair was a little over $3,000 plus travel and accommodations, Natchez City Cemetery Board President Elise Rushing said, adding the value of the damage would have been much higher had it not been for others’ kindness and volunteer services.

Ford’s quote for the repair was far from any others submitted, which were between $12,000 and $15,000, Rushing said.

Others, including Dave Pace of Brookhaven Monument Company, his employees and Adolph Wagner of Church Hill volunteered to lift the monument back onto its pedestal, which would have been a big expense on its own, Rushing said.

Rushing said the cemetery board chose Ford to do the repairs because of her qualifications and not because of the price they were quoted.

Funding for the project was raised via mailed donations and online crowdsourcing on GoFundMe.com, which raised $17,734. Leftover funds will be used for security for the cemetery, Rushing said.