Rules and Regulations Prevent Grieving Father from Putting Headstone at Son’s Gravesite

DES MOINES, Iowa -- "I shouldn't have to go through this," said John Loghry, a grieving father. "I should be able to just think about all the fun times that, every single year, every single birthday. These are the things I should be thinking about. These are the things I should be thinking about, but I can't."

Loghry recently lost his son to a motorcycle accident. "Buddy" is buried at Berwick Cemetery in Delaware Township. Loghry bought a headstone for his son online, but was then told by John Stefani, the owner of The Grave Digger, LLC, that there were rules that prevented him from putting the headstone at his son's grave.

"So, I ordered one online," said Loghry. "Not really thinking much about it at all, just okay a nice headstone. And I got it a week ago, and I called the cemetery to let him know that I wanted to go put it out there. Low and behold, he's like well, you just can`t go and put it there. You know, he said there`s regulations and stuff like that...So, yeah, he`s like, goes on about well you can`t put it out there like that. You need to have somebody come out and survey it to make sure where it's at. I told him well, I was just there. I know exactly where it`s at. His response is, no you don`t, which I thought was kinda weird, but..."

"I just follow the rules," said Stefani. "I just sell the lots, dig the graves, and lay out the monuments...I explained to him you also have to follow the regulations when you go to install it. Well, what regulations? Well, you have to go below the frostline. You have to call us, have us come out and lay it out for you. He believed that he knew where the grave was and he does, but he doesn't know the lot lines and the lot lines have to be right on the money."

Stefani recognizes that experiencing a death is a difficult time, but says that people shouldn't rush through the process, and he recommends contacting the cemetery or a local monument company to find out what the regulations are, before buying a headstone.

"I mean...footings have to go down, we have to come out, find the pins, because if you`re off an inch or two, depending on the side of the stone, you could keep from another grave being dug," said Stefani. "You might interfere on somebody else's property."

Meanwhile, Loghry says he's contacted three local memorial and monument companies to see if they would set the headstone, and they all told him no, citing different reasons (including liability concerns and the fact that they're busy enough with their own customers). Loghry says right now he's at a loss, and he doesn't know what he's doing to do.