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.

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