Syphers has created and installed more than 3,000 gravestones
By Kyle Stucker
Hampton Union, September 2, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Roger Syphers, longtime and renowned monument maker,
restorer and repairer has run his business, Syphers Monument Co.
at 3 Post Office Square in Hampton for 22 years.
HAMPTON — The loss of a loved one can be an emotionally debilitating time for many, the raw pain clawing away at the joy individuals take in everyday activities.
Roger Syphers often sees people in the deepest throws of this sadness, but as one of the Seacoast area's preeminent monument makers and restorers he takes great pride in being someone who can be there for them and talk them through their grief.
"It's a sorrow time, but somebody's got to do it," said Syphers of his monument business, which he has run in Hampton for well over 20 years. "What is really emotional to me is when people come in and they've lost a young kid. It's very easy to break down while they're talking about it. I have to hold myself together and help them through the tough time. That is an emotional part of this business."
Syphers has been at the front lines of loss for decades, creating and installing over 3,000 gravestones and markers throughout the Seacoast and New England while repairing, restoring and cleaning thousands more. His hands are the ones behind a number of commemorative monuments throughout the area, from Hampton's Global War On Terrorism Monument to town-commissioned monuments in Portsmouth, North Hampton, Seabrook, Hampton Falls and numerous other communities.
Syphers also created and donated a monument for Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney after he was killed in the line of duty in 2012, and he's working on one for Brentwood Police officer Stephen Arkell, who was killed in the line of duty in May.
"I try to donate when things happen," said Syphers. "I enjoy doing work of that nature. You get a lot of satisfaction when you do something of that nature."
The Portsmouth native and former Coast Guard member first learned the highly skilled trade in high school when he worked with a monument dealer one summer.
He gravitated back to the work later in life because of the feeling he gets from helping families honor loved ones and helping protect a significant piece of local history.
That feeling keeps him going, and much like his monuments the 81 year old shows no signs of age or wearing down.
"It's hard work," said Syphers, who uses his bare hands and a dolly to lift and install the 1,000-pound stones he engraves. "It keeps you in shape."
The joy that the humble monument dealer takes in his work is readily apparent the moment you set foot in his 3 Post Office Square store.
A roughly 50-foot-long, 6-foot-tall section of wall space near his desk is used to prominently display hundreds of photos of monuments and gravestones, and scanning across them brings back Syphers' memories of his conversations with those individuals' families.
"They all have their stories," said Syphers.
Syphers, a longtime volunteer for a number of local causes and organizations, recently retired from running the Hampton Parks and Recreation Department's men's basketball league.
Even though he's scaled down on some of his activities, Syphers said he'll continue to sell, create and repair monuments because the thank you letters he receives in the mail from his customers show him it's an important job.
"It's a good feeling," said Syphers. "Being helpful is something that goes along with being a monument dealer. People really let you know how much they appreciate how much you have done for them."