Temporary Marker Policy Questioned

A cemetery policy has angered a Bellevue couple trying to heal from a loss. The dispute involves a deadline on temporary markers and the cemetery superintendent says he's been more than fair.

Since a miscarriage in 2012, the Longworths used a temporary marker on the grave of the remains. Mellissa Longworth said, "There are many people who lose children that can't afford or the pain is too much still for them to be able to get a permanent marker right away."

Bellevue’s Saint John's Cemetery has a 90 day deadline on placing a permanent marker. But Mike Longworth said, "Nobody ever told us that there was a time limit. Nobody every brought that up."

After 20 months, the Longworths say they're shocked to find the grave now unmarked; the temporary marker removed and discarded by cemetery staff.

The cemetery superintendent declined an interview but tells Fact Finders that 90 days should be ample time to buy and place a grave marker. He says there are 132 unmarked infant graves in St. John's Cemetery.

The cemetery superintendent says staff showed compassion by not removing the Longworths' temporary marker for more than a year.
But that's the exception due to maintenance costs for the 8,200 grave sites.

Harvey’s Mortuary gave Melissa a replacement temporary marker the cemetery will allow to stand for another 90 days.

Mellissa Longworth said, "We're going to have to put together the cash to get the type of marker we want. I don't want to put just any marker here."

Grief and medical bills delayed the Longworths' purchase of a permanent marker they intend to place before October now that they know there's a deadline.

The Saint John's Cemetery superintendent said he's looking for a cost-effective way to place small, flat stone markers on the 132 unmarked graves of infants.

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