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March 18, 2019

6/20/2013 5:00:00 PM
Local men pay tribute to Allen Ludden by cleaning tombstone
Al Johnson and Harold Mosley are shown next to the tombstone of Allen Ludden in Mineral Pointís Graceland Cemetery. Both Johnson and Mosley found it interesting that Ludden was a Captain in the U.S. Army during WWII.
Al Johnson and Harold Mosley are shown next to the tombstone of Allen Ludden in Mineral Pointís Graceland Cemetery. Both Johnson and Mosley found it interesting that Ludden was a Captain in the U.S. Army during WWII.
Brooke Bechen
Reporter/News and Features

Al Johnson and Harold Mosley, two men who work the third shift at Cummins in Mineral Point, were surprised to find out a famous person was buried in the cemetery right across from where they work.
Allen Ludden, most commonly known as the iconic host of the game show Password and husband to actress and comedian Betty White, was buried in Graceland Cemetery in 1981 after he died of stomach cancer.
Ludden was born on October 5, 1917 as Allen Packard Ellsworth in Mineral Point and resided there with his parents when he was a young child. His father passed away when he was a baby, and when his mother remarried, Ludden took on the last name of his adopted father.
Although Ludden's stay in Wisconsin did not last long, his legacy remains in this area. The Allen Ludden Papers collection, which was donated by White, can be accessed at the Mineral Point Public Library. The man-made Ludden Lake outside of Mineral Point also shares his name.
"It was kind of funny when I found out he was right across from where I work," Mosley said.
Mosley and Johnson decided to check out Ludden's headstone and noticed it was in need of a good cleaning. Mosley, who has been working on starting his own headstone cleaning business, has cleaned about 20 headstones in local cemeteries.
"Headstone cleaning is happening all over the country but there isn't anyone that does it in this area," Johnson said.
Mosley showed Johnson different techniques for cleaning the tombstones and the two decided to clean Ludden's free of charge.
"It kind of brings them back," Mosley explained. "It allows people to live the history of that person."
When their shift at Cummins ended at 7:00 a.m., Mosley and Johnson visited the cemetery to begin cleaning Ludden's tombstone.
"Each stone is an individual process," Mosley said.
Depending on the material used to create the tombstone, different cleaning supplies and techniques are used. For example, if the tombstone is made of limestone, it might be better to clean with just a toothbrush and some elbow grease, Johnson explained.
"When Harold and I do a stone, we're really reasonable," Johnson added.
Before he suggests a price, Mosley meets the family at the cemetery so they can show him where the stone is located. Otherwise, he could spend an entire day just looking for the stone, he joked. Mosley then assesses the stone by how much moss, lichens and other debris are on the stone.
On average, a tombstone takes about an hour and twenty minutes to clean, Mosley said. The stone Mosley worked on the longest was a rather large tombstone located in Union Grove Cemetery in Darlington. This specific tombstone took four hours to clean.
"They're all different," Mosley said.
Although the idea of cleaning tombstones started as just something the two were toying around with, Mosley said they have had good responses from local funeral directors and it is indeed, a plausible business.
"I like the work. It's peaceful and meticulous," Johnson said. "It's in the realm of Karma."
"Cemeteries are just interesting to me," Mosley said.
As for cleaning Ludden's tombstone: "We thought it would just be cool to do," Johnson said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Because of the writer's interest in this story, The Dodgeville Chronicle will be considering a column featuring the histories of well known deceased people from the area and where they are buried. If anyone has a suggestion they would like to submit, please contact news reporter Brooke Bechen either by phone at 608-935-2331 or by email at

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