Family Watches as Crews Remove Casket from Stevenson Home Gravesite

STEVENSON, Ala. (WHNT) – After four years of legal battles, the casket containing Patsy Davis was removed from the yard of her home on Broad Street.

At seven-thirty in the morning, the front yard of the home Jim Davis built for his wife was silent. Circled around the grave on grass that hasn’t seen a shovel since 2009, Davis’ family prayed and remembered the woman who’s tombstone bears the phrase ‘grand old lady’.

After years of court dates and hearings Jim Davis finally agreed to remove his wife’s remains from the front yard of their home. After four years of fighting, he says he has come to some peace this will give his family closure. “It’s going to be good. My family’s glad that it’s going to be over with,” Davis says.

Hands clenched and Bibles present Patsy’s family took time to remember her.

Meanwhile behind that closely knit circle, men from a local funeral home waited. After a while, the engines started.

As the pile of dirt grew bigger, the closer the family got. Davis says while he agreed to remove the remains, he’s still upset it came to this. “All these people will go to another judgement one day, and that’s where it will be straightened out,” Davis says.

He says it’s been a long four years of fighting to fulfill his wife’s dying wish.”The whole thing got twisted up to the point where things, it’s not right,” he says.

The city doesn’t have an ordinance prohibiting what Davis did, but city attorney Parker Edmiston says the city doesn’t need necessarily one. “There was a lot said about not having a city ordinance but really, the crucial issue in the case was he failed to follow the state law which sets out a framework for establishing a private cemetery,” Edmiston says.

He says that framework requires approval from the Department of Health. More importantly though, he says the city has to approve it.  Edmiston says Davis didn’t get that approval.

He says the city tried to negotiate with Davis throughout the years of litigation. They offered to allow Davis’ wife’s remains to stay in the yard until Davis passed away, and then bury his wife’s remains next to him in a city cemetery. “We were not passionate about the process, we just wanted to make sure the state law was followed,” Edmiston says.

Edmiston says Davis had consulted with an attorney before he took any action. He says the city council denied his request twice.

Davis’ wife will be cremated and then brought back to the house, where Davis says she’ll stay. “Mama’s still going to be back here, where she wanted to be, and they can’t stop that.”

Previously Davis had told WHNT News 19 and a judge if he was forced to remove his wife’s remains from his yard, he would have her cremated and then buried back in the yard. Wednesday a judge ruled against that.

Davis, went to court one last time with his lawyer on Wednesday to ask for more time, saying he needed to make arrangements with his family and with a funeral home.  Edmiston argued Davis has had more than enough time to make those arrangements.

Davis told us he had plans to start a church at his home to keep his wife buried there. Soon after he announced those plans though, he decided against it.

The Jackson County Sheriff and Chief Deputy were present while the remains were being removed.

14 comments

  • Laramie

    This is so sad. What ever happened to not disturbing the dead? Do city officials not have anything better to do? Praying for the family!

    • Wake Up

      All cities have zoning laws. If this guy would not have violated the law this would not be happening. We may feel bad for this example, but if not for zoning laws who knows what might happen on the property next to your house!

    • Wake Up

      It is anti-government people like you that would be the first to run screaming for the government to stop a salvage yard from opening next to your property!

  • Sasha

    Cremated??!!! Seriously! After he asked for some time to make arrangements!! They could have at least shown enough respect to let him make arrangements. Obviously she did not want to be cremated, or they would not have burried her in the front yard. They could have at least left her body there, and removed the headstone. It is just so disrespectful and selfish.

  • Wake Up

    Sasha, cremation was the husband’s choice. That was a way to be able to keep his promise for her to stay at the house.

  • noel

    just because its a law does not mean its the right thing to do..just another cry baby politician spending tax payers money on frivolous things. ain’t no tellin whose been buried in yer back yard cause there was a time when there was’nt a zoning law and a crybaby politian.

  • April

    I thought cremated ashes could be buried anywhere. I have a co-worker who buried her husband’s ashes in their yard.

  • noel

    he wanted to dig her up and have her cremated and bury the ashes in his yard but a judge earlier this week said no to that too. you can bury cats or dogs and i have known of farmers burying cows but they ain’t never had to get a judge to approve it. what a bunch of crap. they said on the news that its been in and out of the courts for years…more tax payers money being wasted.

  • Jim M

    Clearly the point here is that cities dont need ad hoc cemetaries in peoples yards because after the owners are dead and gone the graves remain and you would have a time selling houses in residential neighborhoods that had graves on them. It opens up a whole slew of problems. People can use their land any way they want as permitted by law but understandably the law is there to protect others property rights too. My sentiments to the man and his family but you just cant go about burying people in non approved locations…

    • Wake Up

      Jim, it is good to see by your post that a few people around here still have some sense! Most of the anti-government yahoos just have a gut reaction to anything to do with the government — unless it benefits them personally!

  • Devon

    I’m watching reruns of the newlyweds and Nick and Jess are complaining about the paparrazi attention and unwanted public attention so they “escape” to palm springs for some time together with family yet they take the friggin camera crew with them?!! Ironic much!?

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