File Photo – Kenny Gee spins his shovel during the 2018 Canal Celebration Parade.
by Dave Warner
It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that Kenneth W. Gee (or Kenny as everyone called him) passed away at the Bassett Medical Center, Cooperstown where he had been a patient. He had been a fixture in Little Falls for decades before his passing in October of 2018.
When he was buried, his only marker was his trademark snow shovel until people started talking about it on Facebook and asking why? According to Leo (Tom) Murphy, he was just sitting around one Saturday morning and saw a post about it.
“A woman by the name of Denise Louise had a thing on there with a picture of the temporary grave marker and said something to the effect that it was a shame that he didn’t have a stone. My first thought was that somebody ought to do something about that.”
Murphy remembered the motto of a friend of his that said, If not me, who? “I came across his page, and all of a sudden it hit me,” he stated.
He went back and looked at the post again and decided on the spot to set up a GoFundMe campaign page. “From there on, it all just fell into place.”
He didn’t know how much a stone would cost, so he started doing some online research but quickly found out that it really depended on what part of the country you were in and what you wanted. “When I did the initial research, it looked like the simplest of stones was going to cost around $3,000,” he said. “That’s what I originally put in the GoFundMe campaign as the goal.”
Murphy also contacted Chapman-Moser Funeral Home since they had handled the arrangements. “I talked to a young guy named Chris Hanley and asked him what it would cost and if the family was going to be OK with it. I just didn’t want to go putting a stone on somebody’s grave that I’m not related to.”
Hanley said that the sister would be totally behind it. “Then he told me we could do something for around $1,500.00, and I said, we’ve got more than that already!”
So, Murphy decided he better shut off the tap, but he said the hardest part was getting people to stop donating once he had reached the new goal. “I forgot what the exact figure was, but it was around $1,800.00.”
He ended up talking with Chris again about the plans for the stone and they figured out a way to spend the additional money. “He said, how about if we get a stone flower pot to put next to it and any money above and beyond that, I’ll occasionally have a florist put flowers in the pot until the money is used up.”
Growing up, Murphy said that Kenny was a friend to everyone, but as a teenager, he kind of resented him a bit. “I’d go around in the winter and want to shovel sidewalks and sometimes I had a hard time getting ahead of him. I’d go down the block and every sidewalk would already be shoveled because he got there before me.”
Murphy said that the whole process was just so easy, that he was surprised about how quickly it all came together. “Between the funeral home making it easy for me and people contributing, it wasn’t like I had to go out and twist any arms.”
He said that he is really glad that the stone was just placed last week, as he is up here visiting and got a chance to see it in person. “The flower pot isn’t there yet, but the stone is. It looks good.”