Who Are We?

Joel & Donna Duprey - Co-Founders of WVCPA Who are we? Well, we're two people that are passionate about cemeteries.  We're passionate about the stories of our ancestors and the preservation of historical records that are not archived in marble-clad courthouses or libraries stacked with volumes of transcribed words on paper, but rather, planted on the hillsides, in the meadows, and in the forests of West Virginia. While some think of cemeteries as gloomy, sad, even spooky places, as Christians we have found them to be, for the most part, places of peaceful rest, forgotten love stories, and gardens for prayerful contemplation of the faith and strength of our forefathers that pioneered this beautiful state.

     In 2001, as we took up the hobby of discovering our family roots, we had the opportunity to visit old family cemeteries in Mason, Jackson and Putnam counties in West Virginia and see the tragic contrasts between well cared-for ones and those that had been forgotten long ago. The words of an unknown genealogist, recorded at the bottom of this page, aptly describes the passion and the calling that Joel & I feel for West Virginia, her people and her history - our family's history.  While walking among the graves of Joel's ancestors that sultry July in 2001, the seeds were planted...

Joel at Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Jackson Co., WV

     From those seeds grew the vision of this historical preservation association which was founded in 2003. We have dedicated ourselves, through WVCPA, to serve as stewards of the memorials that our West Virginia ancestors left behind for their descendants to remember family members that had gone on before.  Together with the dedicated and caring efforts of volunteers from across the country, over the course of the years to come, we pledge to do what we can to preserve these treasures for the generations to follow.

     That tells you some of the "what" and "why", but perhaps you're wondering more about the "who"? Well, by day (so to speak, as the operation of WVCPA takes place in our evenings, weekends, and vacation time), we, Joel and Donna Duprey, work in the information technology and genealogy fields.  Joel recently retired as a computer programmer with the State of Colorado Judicial Department, and now works full time as a genealogist. Donna is a software engineer with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, maintains this web site, and also freelances as a genealogist in her spare time. Joel is also a licensed minister with the Rose of Sharon Evangelistic Organization, and an aspiring author. 

      Over the course of the past few years, both of us have naturally become avid family researchers and history buffs of the 19th and early 20th century of northwestern  West Virginia.  Both of us have had interest in American history and family research since our youth.  Donna remembers with fondness visiting pioneer cemeteries in Washington State (her childhood home) as a girl with her Nana, and later, cemeteries in Scandinavian and in Colorado mining towns with her mother, being fascinated with the inscriptions and artwork from an early age.

     In October of 2010, we saw one of our dreams come true by being able to settle full time on our farm in West Virginia and are in the process of building our retirement home - a log home in the traditional Appalachian style (if you're interested in a log home yourself, email us and we'll gladly share references with you for the log home manufacturer that we've been extremely pleased with). While we bring that project to completion during the winter and early spring of 2011, you'll likely see very limited additions to this web site and only periodic replies to email inquiries. We hope that in the near future we will be better able to dedicate even more of our time and talents to the work of the West Virginia Cemetery Preservation Association, Inc.. We look forward to serving the local community into our retirement years from our quiet hollow in Mason County close to family and dear friends.

Joel & Donna Duprey



In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors.  To put flesh on their bones and make them live again.  To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.
Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but instead breathing life into all who have gone before.  We are the storytellers of the tribe.  All tribes have one.  We have been called, as it were, by our genes.  Those who have gone before cry out to us, "Tell our story", so we do.  In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.
How many graves have I stood before now and cried?  I have lost count.  How many times have I told the ancestors "You have a wonderful family.  You would be proud of us."  How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me?  I cannot say.
It goes beyond just documenting facts.  It goes to who I am and why do I do the things I do.  It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying "I can't let that happen." The bones here are bones of my bones and flesh of my flesh.
It goes to doing something about it.  It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish, how they contributed to what we are today.  It goes to respecting their hardships and losses.  Their never giving in or giving up.  Their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.  It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a nation.  It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.
It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth.  Without them we could not exist.  And so we love each one, as far back as we can reach.  That we might be born who we are.  That we might remember them, so we do.  With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence. Because we are they and they are the sum of who we are.  So as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family.  It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers.
That is why I do my family genealogy and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those whom we had never known before.
~~~ Author Unknown ~~~

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 Updated: 07 September 2012