Family not the victims of grave robbers after all

By Arnold Wyrick - bio | email

BENTON, IL (KFVS) - When it comes to decorating your loved ones grave site do you know what you can and can't do?  Most people may think that since the family plot is bought and paid for they can do almost anything.  But, that isn't the case in most graveyards.

This past October, Beulah Rose Reed's family laid her to rest in the Masonic & Odd Fellows Cemetery in Benton, Illinois.  They decided to decorate her grave site for Easter.

"She loved to decorate so we had crosses from her front yard when she was still alive, wind chimes she had in her kitchen and windmills.  We even wrote little notes in the Easter eggs," said Reed's granddaughter Ashley Pate.

"The this past Friday went we went to the graveyard everything was gone. It was just heartbreaking.  I immediately thought someone had stolen everything."

But, it wasn't grave-robbers instead it was the graveyard keepers who had removed everything from Reed's grave.

"We allow flowers in the vases on the saddles.  We don't have a problem with that in the wintertime.  But when the mowing season starts we have to get everything out of the way, so we can mow," said Howard Johnson, president of the Masonic & Odd Fellows Cemetery Association.

Johnson says just like any piece of property a grave plot deed comes with some rules and regulations clearly spelled out on what you can and can't have on a grave.

"If you didn't no telling what we'd have out here.  And that just isn't fair to the others that don't have anything," Johnson said.

The cemetery board and the Reed family have reached an agreement on how they can decorate their grandmother's grave.

"We are allowed to put a little bit up at a time, just not like we had it for Easter," Pate said.

And all of the family's decorations were returned to them undamaged.
"We will bag things up or box them up and mark them for the family to pick up, if we remove anything from a grave site," Johnson said.

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