MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Stephanie Yates and her family thought they ordered the perfect granite headstone for her brother. That is until it was delivered and the cemetery rejected it, refusing to place it at her brother’s gravesite.
“It’s sad enough that you lose a loved one, especially young,” said Yates. “Somebody who is very healthy, and then have to go through this too.”
Yates’ brother, Stanford Bledsoe, went to high school in Memphis. He was murdered in Texas in April while working a second job at a gas station. She says two men tried to rob the store and her brother was shot and killed.
Bledsoe was a father of six girls. His family wanted him buried at New Park Cemetery where his mother was buried in 2004.
Yates met with staff at New Park to finalize the details about the burial and get specifications for the headstone she was ordering from an internet vendor.
“My family loved the stone,” she said. “They approved this stone, his daughters loved the stone.”
But New Park Cemetery did not love it.
The cemetery refused to place it where Bledsoe is now buried.
Their reason -- the edges are smooth.
The general manager of New Park said it’s a rule put in place several months ago. He did not want to give his name, claiming he and the staff are getting threats over new regulations for funerals because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the cemetery now requires rough edges so they don’t chip when workers mow the lawn.
The cemetery emailed back and forth with Yates explaining that after the fact.
Yates says she didn’t know about the rough edge requirement before she ordered Bledsoe’s headstone.
Earnest Hill owns Honest Monuments in Memphis. He started his company many years ago after he too had a headstone rejected.
Hill says most local monument companies know what cemeteries require.
“I understand the rules and regulations of all of the cemeteries in my general area, and we try to abide by it,” said Hill.
He says he always checks with a cemetery before making a headstone, but he understands the desire of loved ones who want to save money by ordering over the internet.
Hill points out headstones are supposed to last and look good for a very long time.
“Saving a little, 10 percent or something like that, and you encounter headaches and other issues,” said Hill. “It’s not really worth it to me.
Still, it’s a very hard lesson for families in mourning.
The New Park Cemetery general manager said he will make another headstone for the family at a reduced price, which is actually less expensive than what the internet company was going to charge to rough up the edges of Bledsoe’s first headstone.