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home : opinion : letters to the editor April 16, 2014

2/13/2014 11:14:00 AM
Oakwood Cemetery

Editor, Times-Union:
My father, Robert D. Martin, was buried at Oakwood Cemetery on Feb. 3, 2014 (we think). I say “we think” because when we arrived for his service we were informed that the cemetery was “closed” and we would not be allowed to have the burial there. A “service” was held following the funeral at the funeral home and dad was placed in the hearse. We were told his body would be held in the chapel at Oakwood until the burial could be completed.
The reasons given for this were: The roads were not plowed clear and the site was not safe because of snow and there was water in the hole.
My dad was a World War II veteran. I don’t know, but am reasonably sure he spent time in snow and water in their trenches overseas. He also worked for the County Highway Department for many years and I know for a fact that he spent many a freezing night outside keeping the trucks running so the roads would be clear for the residents of Kosciusko County. Yet, when these things needed to be done for him, Oakwood let him down.
The period of time was between our two storms, since we were waiting for people from out of state to drive/fly in. Oakwood had plenty of notice when the site needed to be ready. The hole was actually open on Friday. The funeral was on Monday. At least one of those days was warm enough for the site to be prepared.  I removed all the slush off my patio during that time, so I know it was possible. When I mentioned this to the cemetery director I was told “I have 80 acres to maintain,” to that I say, you had one funeral at noon on Monday to prepare for. Further, when I mentioned that people had come from a long distance and then didn’t get to come to the cemetery his response was “sorry for your inconvenience.” This wasn’t about inconvenience; it was about closure and dignity.
We were told the body would be held in the cemetery chapel until such time as the burial could be completed. I called early Tuesday to see when that might be and learned that they had done it “immediately after he arrived, they think” …. they think?  So my father was buried (they think) with none of his family there and without the military honor guard that he deserved.
The cemetery director says it’s the funeral director’s fault, that we would have been allowed to drive to the site, but not allowed out of the cars. What good would that have done?
Oh yeah, were we given a discount for the services not provided? Of course not.
Their job is to have the site, roads and etc. ready when a funeral takes place. I can understand if we get 8 inches to 10 inches of snow, but this was not the case on Feb. 3.
This is a disturbing trend that I have since heard of happening at other locations.
This is your job. Do it. My dad always did his.
Family of Robert D. Martin,
Mike and Carol Martin, Columbia City
Mark and Chris Vandewalle, Pierceton
Janet Best, Warsaw
Dallas and Debra Morrison, Warsaw
James and Rebecca Martin, Manassas, VA
8 grandkids and 4 great grandkids

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