MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - New developments in the story of a cemetery accused of disrespecting the dead.
On New Year’s Eve, abc24.com told the story of what some Memphis families are calling the desecration of gravesites at Memphis Memory Gardens.
That story got the attention of the company that runs the cemetery, which moved quickly to fix the problems.
In the past upset families had labeled cemetery management uncooperative; not so after the New Year’s Eve story.
The response has been so fast that one family may drop plans to relocate their loved ones.
“You can’t even tell who it is; that’s a stone right there that took a direct hit.”
That’s how Steve Dacus described the damage at Memphis Memory Gardens on New Year’s Eve 2012.
The damage was obvious; tractors were tearing up grave markers, stones bent and broken, flowers strewn everywhere.
Steve and Mary Dacus, whose parents are buried there, were upset.
“You shouldn’t have to visit your family looking like that,” said Steve Dacus on the last day of 2012.
The story resonated with Dignity Memorial Network. On Tuesday, January 8, there was major evidence of repair work.
In just a few days time great steps had been taken to clean up all the tracks and ruts. Gravesites were balanced and straightened, flowers were back where they were supposed to be and there were no more open holes were vases had been ripped from markers.
“When I saw what we had done I was upset, too,” said Mark Ballard, “that anybody would do that to the families we serve - that is unacceptable behavior.”
Ballard is the Vice-President and General Manager of Memphis Memory Gardens.
Mary Dacus was surprised by the fast action.
“Yes, I was,” Mary told abc24.com, “but I was pleased as well.”
She walked to her mother-in-law’s grave; noting that much work had been done to make it look better.
The cemetery’s existing protocols should have prevented the damage to begin with.
“What happened,” said Ballard, “is employees bypassed those procedures.”
Those action carried consequences.
“They’ve let a couple people go from my understanding.” Mary told abc24.com.
Ballard could not comment, saying: “We have done everything we know to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
That, coupled with the quick clean up, is causing the Dacuses to reconsider a decision to relocate their loved ones.
“If this continues,” said Mary, “this is where they’ll stay.”
Lisa Marshall, a spokesperson for Dignity Memorial Network in Houston, apologized to any family affected by the damage.
She also thanked us for our story calling it to their attention; and specialized training is being re-emphasized for all employees.