Son shares struggle to repair father’s gravestone


RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala – “And, one side was higher than the other, so I tried to lift it off, and it came right off the head stone here.  And I actually lifted it up, and I turned it on its side, like this.  And this is what I saw. It clearly has someone else’s name on it, and date birth, and date of death on there.”

Donnie Murray, Jr. still can’t believe it . . . and you probably won’t either.  He says this is the workmanship he and his family received after a second time – –  and two months of waiting – – for a monument company to construct his father’s headstone properly.

“He kind of denied everything, but it was clear that was somebody else’s headstone.  They just turned it over and mounted my dad’s marker on it.”

He remembers how he felt when he made the discovery that the headstone was not the brand new, polished granite piece promised for his dad’s grave.

“I would imagine . . . When I saw it, I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know what to say, what to do. I was just angry.”

I spoke with a representative from the National Funeral Director’s Association who tells me, if you are unhappy with a monument company, you do have recourse.

This is especially true when dealing with monument companies who are licensed as pre-need dealers—those who offer advanced funeral and burial planning.

If they are registered as pre-need dealers, then once again, there is some leverage either with the Secretary of State’s Office or possibly with the State Cemetery Board to investigate any improprieties of the delivery of the merchandise that may have been purchased pre-need.

But in Murray’s case – – – he and his family didn’t buy the gravemarkers pre-need. Luckily, however, he did not pay upfront.  He’s lucky that he’s not out of money—but Hightower says that people who pre-plan burials need to be sure to shop and around and listen to word-of-mouth from people in their community.

“Ask for a number of references from that moment company,  families that they have served, make sure that you are comfortable in dealing with them, before you ever write them a check to deliver anything.”

As for Donny Murray, Jr. – he says it’s been tough still not having his father’s grave completed after all these months— and the experience has made him much less trusting.

“I couldn’t imagine them doing something like this. You know, this was unheard of to me. I would never have thought I would need to micromanage someone to do something like this. But, now with the new monument company that’s doing the new headstone, I want to see everything, every step of the way, just to make sure it’s the way we want it.”

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