© Guardian file photo
The closely followed headstone fundraiser for the late George Gill has taken an interesting turn.
The public responded with great compassion and generosity after learning the colourful Charlottetown character had been buried for two years without a headstone.
Debby Hennessey, owner of a café that counted Gill among her regular customers, spent several weeks collecting money for a fitting memorial.
She has received almost $2,600 so far.
Zach Court of Victory Stone also stepped up to donate an engraved headstone free of charge.
Court was set to put the headstone in place Friday at Union Road Community Cemetery.
However, relatives of Gill have also been making arrangements for a headstone.
Gill’s sister-in-law told The Guardian Wednesday that she and her husband — George’s brother — had always planned to give the late bottle collector a proper marker.
“We feel it is our place to take care of this business,’’ said the in-law, who requested not to be named.
She said living in Alberta, she and her husband were not aware of the fundraising effort.
She also lauded Hennessey for establishing a fund, calling the initiative a “lovely, lovely gesture.’’
The Guardian ran an article Wednesday that noted the public was invited to view the tombstone Friday afternoon. That, of course, is no longer the case.
Gill’s sister-in-law expects the headstone to be in place within six to eight weeks.
Hennessey notes she had weeks ago contacted one of Gill’s sisters to inform her of the fundraising effort. The woman had no issue with it.
Reached by The Guardian Wednesday, the sister said she was not aware of any of Gill’s family members planning to purchase a headstone. She added she had not been in contact with Gill for some 40 years.
The good news, of course, is Gill will finally get a headstone after passing away at age 69 on Feb. 17, 2012.
All of the money raised will remain in the newly created George Gill Memorial Fund.
Money from the fund will go towards the local Salvation Army and the food bank in Charlottetown, both of which are places Gill would frequent.
Hennessey plans to keep the fund active indefinitely. Donations can be made at CIBC on Queen Street in Charlottetown to the George Gill Memorial Fund.
Meanwhile, Court says he knew Gill and was aware of the man’s difficult past and just wanted to help out.
Fortunately, Court had yet to start engraving the stone.