James Davis is fighting to keep his wife’s body buried in his front yard in order to fulfill a promise he made to her before she died, but a county judge in Alabama has ordered him to move her body from the front yard grave site to a certified cemetery.
Newser reports that Davis, 73, stated:
“Good Lord, they’ve raised pigs in their yard, there’s horses out the road here … they’ve got other grave sites here all over the place. And there shouldn’t have been a problem.”
Davis dug the grave for Patsy Ruth Davis after her death in 2009, burying her outside their log home, much to the city’s frustration. In order to prevent her disinterment, Davis has appealed to the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals, who is considering his challenge, according to NBC News.
State officials have said that burial plots are not uncommon in Alabama, but city officials are contesting this one because Davis’ wife’s grave is located on a residential lot on one of the main streets through town.
City attorney Parker Edmiston echoes the plight of city officials against James Davis, saying:
“We’re not in the 1800s any longer. We’re not talking about a homestead, we’re not talking about someone who is out in the country on 40 acres of land. Mr. Davis lives in downtown Stevenson.”
James Davis and his wife met when she was little and were married for 48 years. James stayed by her bedside during her final days when her arthritis was too crippling to let her move around the house. The couple originally planned to have their bodies cremated, but Patsy revealed that she was terrified by the thought. Davis stated:
“She said this is where she wanted to be and could she be put here, and I told her, ‘Yeah.’ I didn’t think there’d be any problem.”
The City Council rejected James Davis’ request for a cemetery permit after his wife passed on April 18, 2009 even though the county health department agreed to the residential burial, saying that it would not cause any sanitation issues. Davis and his son-in-law ignored the council’s decision, cranking a backhoe to dig the grave a few feet away from the house. A mortuary helped by installing a concrete vault, and workers lowered Patsy Davis’ body into the plot in a metal casket.
If nothing else, Edmiston says that the appeals court may decide what constitutes a “family burial plot” and what the definition of cemetery is in Alabama. For Davis, it doesn’t matter what the courts will decide; he will not move her body. He has also said that his five children will bury him in the yard next to his wife after he passes away, and they, along with their 15 children, will care for the property from then on. As far as what the city’s decision is, Davis states:
“If they get it done it’ll be after I’m gone. So if they order her to be moved, it’s a death sentence to me. I’ll meet Mama sooner than I planned on it.”
Do you think that James Davis has the right to keep his wife’s body buried in the front yard of the home they used to share?