A SpongeBob headstone was removed from the grave of an Iraq War veteran. The headstone marked the grave of 28-year-old Kimberly Walker, who was killed in Colorado. Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery originally approved the sculpture, but later changed their mind.
The SpongeBob SquarePants marker was erected on October 10. The 7-foot sculpture featured the famous cartoon character, clad in an Army uniform. Walker’s family had the headstone custom designed to feature her favorite character.
Cemetery President Gary Freytag said the employee who approved the marker made a mistake. Spring Grove is a historical cemetery that provides specific guidelines for markers and monuments.
Spring Grove was founded in 1845 as a non-profit cemetery. The grounds include 733 acres, with 350 currently undeveloped. As reported by SpringGrove.org, the organization is managed by a Board of Trustees, which reviews all policy decisions. The board is staffed by unpaid volunteers.
Freytag said the cemetery accepts responsibility for making the mistake, but the stone was removed and will not be allowed back on the grave.The cemetery also removed a matching headstone, which was placed on the future grave of Kimberly’s twin sister. Kara Walker said the matching stones had sentimental value and were important to the family.
As reported by Fox News, the SpongeBob headstones cost nearly $26,000. Freytag said he is willing reimburse the family and help them choose a more appropriate monument. Spring Grove Cemetery has agreed to cover all associated costs.
Kara said she wants the markers back on the graves. She spent nearly $30,000 on six plots for her family, and she thinks the cemetery should honor their prior decision:
“They already brought enough grief and pain to the family… We want what we paid for and what I know my sister would have wanted.”
Kimberly Walker served two tours in Iraq in 2006 and 2010 with the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion. She worked as a petroleum supply specialist.
On February 14, Walker was found dead in a Colorado hotel room. Authorities determined that she was beaten and strangled. Walker’s boyfriend was eventually charged with her murder.
Kara Walker wants to honor her sister’s service, and her life, with a monument that reflects her interests and her personality. She said a great deal of thought went into choosing the perfect stone. She discussed the headstones with a cemetery employee before having them made.
The SpongeBob headstones were eventually deemed inappropriate and removed. Cemetery officials said they are working with the family to find a mutually acceptable solution to the difficult issue.
[Image via Flickr]