Accomplished writer and local historian Stan Smith, who lives in Underwood, is playing his part in helping to raise funds to provide a headstone for former “community giant”.
Local author and former parish councillor Eugene Di Villa died of hypothermia at the age of 79 and his family could not be contacted.
He was buried in St Michael’s churchyard in Underwood with a plain, hand-written wooden cross to mark his grave as being paid for by Underwood Parish Cuncil.
But the plot is now grassed over and the cross is beginning to rot away. Now his friends are determined not to let him be forgotten and are trying to raise money to pay for a fitting stone headstone.
NowStan (pictured), who writes under the pseudonym of Ztan Smith, has produced his latest book which he says “serves as a tribute to one of the community’s leading lights”
The book which is entitled ‘Eugene Di Villa’ has recently gone on sale and in the words of the author “is a testament to a brave, enigmatic, and modest man who was quietly efficient and who led a fascinating life”.
During his time as a local councillor Eugene helped to establish a doctors’ surgery in Underwood and played a big part in preserving the church’s famed clock. He was a schoolteacher and represented Selston Parish Council from 1981 until his death in 2010.
“His exploits during the Second World War are legendary and in an article recently featured in the Advertiser it revealed how he defied the Nazis during the Second World War when his father was fighting with the French Resistance,” said Stan.
“Eugene and his older brother refused to betray the whereabouts of their father so the Germans drove an armoured car at them. His brother was killed and Eugene’s leg was severed. He was later fitted with a prosthetic leg.
“People in the local community are raising money to pay for a fitting resting place for Eugene and sales from my book will go to that cause.”
‘Eugene Di Villa’ by Ztan Smith is priced at just £2 and can be purchased at Underwood Post Office
Alternatively contact Stan on 01773-783009
To donate to the headstone charity e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.