Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published October 21, 2013 at 10:16 PM | Page modified October 23, 2013 at 10:48 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Ohio cemetery, family of Iraq war veteran to meet on removal of SpongeBob gravestone

Officials at a cemetery that removed a slain Iraq war veteran's towering SpongeBob SquarePants headstone from her final resting place after they deemed it inappropriate for their traditional grounds were planning to meet with the soldier's family to explore possible solutions.


Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >

advertising

CINCINNATI —

Officials at a cemetery that removed a slain Iraq war veteran's towering SpongeBob SquarePants headstone from her final resting place after they deemed it inappropriate for their traditional grounds were planning to meet with the soldier's family to explore possible solutions.

The headstone of Kimberly Walker, 28, was made in the likeness of her favorite cartoon character and erected at Spring Grove Cemetery on Oct. 10, almost eight months after she was found slain in a Colorado hotel room.

Despite getting the cemetery's prior approval of the headstone's design -- a smiling SpongeBob in an Army uniform, with Walker's name and rank -- her family said Monday that cemetery staff called them the day after it was installed to say it would have to come down.

The 7-foot headstone, along with a near-exact duplicate erected for Walker's living twin sister, have been removed and will not be allowed back up, cemetery President Gary Freytag said Monday.

"We've decided that they aren't appropriate for our historic cemetery and they can't be displayed here," Freytag said, adding that the employee who approved the headstones made an inexplicable error in judgment, given the cemetery's traditional, stately appearance.

He acknowledged that the cemetery is at fault and that staff members would be meeting with Walker's family on Tuesday to try to find a solution, which could include a more traditional gravestone bearing small likeness of the character.

Freytag also said Spring Grove is prepared to reimburse the family for each headstone, which cost a combined $26,000, and pay for new ones.

"I feel terrible that it got to this point but I'm hoping we can come out at the other end of the tunnel with a solution," he said.

Cemetery officials plan to meet with Walker's family on Tuesday.

Walker was an Army corporal assigned to the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion and served two year-long tours Iraq in 2006 and 2010 as a petroleum supply specialist, her family said.

Walker was found dead in a hotel room in Colorado Springs in February on Valentine's Day, strangled and beaten to death. Her boyfriend, an Army sergeant stationed nearby, was arrested and charged with her killing.

Walker's twin sister, Kara Walker, said the family is beyond distraught. A lot of thought went into choosing the gravestones which she said were chosen because her sister loved SpongeBob, even outfitting her entire bedroom with the cartoon character's decorations.

"It is frustrating that you entrust a cemetery to have your best interest at heart and accommodate you and your family at a hard time ... and because they don't like it they're going to take it down," said Kara Walker, 29, an information technician for the U.S. Navy stationed in Naples, Italy.

"My sister served our country and most people try to accommodate veterans and try to take care of them," said Walker, who is visiting her family. "For them not to accommodate and respect what my sister sacrificed, not only for my family, but for everyone else in this country, really bothers me."

She said the only way the cemetery can make it up to the family, which she said pre-paid for six plots for $29,000, is to put the headstones back.

"They already brought enough grief and pain to the family," she said. "We want what we paid for and what I know my sister would have wanted."

___

Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP



News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Meet the winemakers

Meet the winemakers

View video interviews, conducted by The Seattle Times wine writer Andy Perdue, profiling five of our state's top winemakers.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising

Career Center Blog

Career Center Blog

The power of good manners


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►