By Steve Svetovich
Dunmore’s Robert Tuffy, 87, is a proud U.S. Marine veteran.
Tuffy is equally proud of his fellow veterans who served this country over the years.
And he’s more than doing his part to keep alive the memories of deceased veterans.
The retired U.S. Marine served this country for many years. In the past dozen or so years he has tried to keep the memories alive of his fellow veterans by restoring the headstones and placing flowers and flags at the graves of deceased military men at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Dunmore.
He is active as a volunteer, helping out on Memorial Day at the Mount Carmel Cemetery.
Despite his advanced age, Tuffy is very active and remains dedicated to restoring graves of deceased veterans in Dunmore.
Tuffy, humble in nature, is a 1953 graduate of Dunmore High School. He and his wife, the former Angela Maruzzeti, have been married for 64 years.
The couple has two daughters, Diane and Donna, and a son, Robert. Another son, Donald, died at 18-months old.
The couple has three grandchildren, Corey, Michael, and Katie.
Tuffy retired from Tobyhanna Army Depot where he was an equipment operator.
He served in Korea for the United States Marine Corps from 1954 through 1957.
Tufty served as Lackawanna County Veterans Affairs Director from 1962 through 1972.
During this time, Tuffy performed outreach work in local Veterans homes.
“I hired some people during this time who had the right heart. And they are keeping it going and doing their best to this day,” Tuffy says.
During his time as Lackawanna County Veterans Affairs Director, the amount of money raised for Veterans programs went from $28,000 to over $2-million annually, he said.
“I am proud of that and of the work done by those we hired.”
And Tuffy Is so proud of his time spent as a U.S. Marine.
“It was a great experience for me,” he said. “I was proud to serve my country.”
Tuffy said he started restoring graves after noticing all of the old and shattered headstones while visiting Mount Carmel Cemetery in Dunmore on one particular Memorial Day several years back.
“I had to get involved right away,” he said. “I wanted to make sure all of the headstones of the veterans of war were restored. They deserved that. I started repairing the headstones one by one. It took me about three years.”
Tuffy restored about 100 graves and stones and even paid for the costs. And, at an advanced age, he did the work.
“A lot of third generation family members were very thankful,” he said. “I did this for the veterans. It is something that needed to be done. They served our country. I just had to get involved.
“These are the unknown soldiers. Most of their families are already deceased. Someone had to do this for them.”
And after replacing or restoring almost 100 headstones, Tuffy remains very active at 87.
“I work out in the yard and in my house,” he said. “I have a lot to do. I keep active and keep moving. And I continue to visit Mount Carmel Cemetery and do what I can do to help with the veterans graves. We need to show great respect to our deceased veterans. Replacing or restoring their stones and maintaining a nice grave site for them is one way of doing it.”