Seville cemetery throws out items left on graves

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SEVILLE, Ohio (WJW)– Hillcrest Memorial Gardens in Seville is the final resting place of Phillip Arndt.

Since his death in 2016 at the age of 72, his daughter and other family members have decorated his grave with items that included a family plaque, a flag and a small blue Corvette, which was his favorite car.

“To know that he’s looking down, happy that we’re putting things on his grave, knowing that we’re still thinking of him and knowing that we still miss him and love him,” Lisa Arndt Sprunger said.

She said her family and other families who have loved ones buried at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens were disturbed to learn that the items they had placed at their graves had recently been removed by the cemetery.

“We’re heartbroken. We just wish that they could have communicated with us, send a letter out, an email, something that would have told us what was going on,” Arndt Sprunger said.

The Arndt family was distressed when they discovered that the items taken from their father’s grave and the other graves, had been thrown into a pile on a couple of pallets at the cemetery. It was only after the family complained to management of the cemetery that they were given a memo, which indicated certain items are not permitted around the grave markers and that they would be removed by the cemetery.

Phil Arndt’s daughter said the operators of the cemetery failed to take into account the feelings of the families before removing the items.

“Just have the courtesy of letting people that put these things on their loved ones know, so we know to take them off, and put them on when we want them on, not when they decide to take them off,” Arndt Sprunger said. “That’s all we have left of our loved ones. It’s sentimental to us, that’s all we’re asking.”

During a meeting with the Arndt family on Tuesday afternoon, one of the owners apologized to the family for the removal of the items from their father’s grave. In a statement Tuesday night, Hillcrest Memorial Gardens again apologized for what it called a misunderstanding.

“We understand and encourage the respectful decoration of loved ones graves and have striven to develop policies to support that time honored tradition,” the cemetery said.

“When maintaining a cemetery we must consider the needs of the individual property owners as well as the overall appearance of the cemetery.  The Flower Regulations for the cemetery have been in place for over 50 years.  Recently, the regular flower clean up had become laxed and needed to be tightened during the mowing season so that we could effectively maintain the overall appearance of the cemetery.”

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