Families say loved ones’ graves neglected at Gaffney cemetery

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GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) – 7 News spoke with some frustrated families in Gaffney who say their loved ones’ burial sites have not been taken care of properly.

Many people told us they feel disappointed and angry when they go by the cemetery. Others said they feel sad, but not because they’re grieving.

Debbie Pridmore’s parents, Jimmy and Evelyn Williams, were married for 65 years. After Evelyn passed away last May, it wasn’t long after that Jimmy followed. His daughter told 7 News he died from a broken heart.

“He told me he wanted to be with his wife,” Pridmore said. “He couldn’t take it any longer.”

But, now, when Pridmore goes by to visit her parents at Frederick Memorial Gardens, where they’re buried side-by-side just like they would’ve wanted, she can’t help but get emotional–but for a different reason.

“My mom and dad wouldn’t appreciate it, and it’s heartbreaking,” she said. “I can’t talk about it.”

Pridmore told 7 News her parents’ graves have been in poor condition since September when her dad was buried.

“The date of birth is wrong,” she said. “There are holes, there is water. We’ve mentioned it several times, asking them to fix it. They say it’s just a bad area and that it can’t be fixed.”

Pridmore finally took a picture of her father’s grave on Tuesday and posted it to Facebook, where it was shared several times. When she came back out to the cemetery on Wednesday, she noticed the grave looked a little bit better, but she said it’s still not fully acceptable.

“You can still see the deep holes,” she said. “It’s just going to go right back to the same thing.”

And Pridmore wasn’t the only person who told 7 News they’ve had issues with the cemetery. It’s something several families in Gaffney said they’ve been dealing with for years.

“That big tree fell and it just laid there across people’s graves and flags,” Phil Fowler said. “It wasn’t mine or anybody I knew, but it’s somebody’s mama, daddy, brother, sister–maybe even somebody’s youngin’, God forbid.”

The community actually started a Facebook group about issues at the cemetery back in March of 2015 and are still actively discussing problems, with more than 300 members involved. Most of the members say they just want some respect.

“They ran right over that gravestone right there,” Fowler said. “They could’ve gone around it, in that big spot, but they didn’t.”

“I feel like they can haul some dirt in and pack it, and then some grass on top,” Pridmore added. “I want more protection on their grave and for them to rest in peace.”

7 News reached out to the corporate office over the cemetery, but we’re still waiting to hear back.

For more information on what cemeteries are and aren’t required to do, click here and here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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