HOUSTON – When someone you love passes away, the process of planning the memorial and everything else can be overwhelming. There is a lot to do and you are also grieving, so there are some things you may not even think or know to ask. That’s part of the issue a Houston woman is dealing with.
Janet Friedman said she will not rest until she gets something done about the placement of her long-time partner’s grave marker. She says it’s not just wrong, it’s disrespectful and she feels like the victim of a bait-and-switch by the cemetery salesperson.
“It was literally upside down. A few inches from this other person’s gravestone tombstone,” Friedman shows us.
Standing over someone else’s grave and looking over is not the way Janet Friedman wants to honor her long-time partner, Raymond “Joe Bean” Haynes.
“It was quite upsetting because of the fact that it’s upside down. You can’t even see without standing on someone else’s grave. I found it very disrespectful,” she said.
A lover of classic cars and traveling, Raymond’s final wish was to be buried at Golden Gate Cemetery in north Houston.
“When I first came out here, I met a gentleman from the cemetery company and he said to me, ‘Where do you want to be?’ and I said, ‘Well, Raymond’s family is in this area.’ What he said to me was, ‘You know, you need to pick. You can pick out from these three different plots, one over here, one over there, one over here.’”
She chose a plot but months later when she saw the marker placement, Friedman was in shock.
“I anticipated that if the plot was here that it would be at the top so that we could stand at the bottom and show our respects and I felt as though they sold me something and they gave me something else.
Friedman asked if they could move it to the middle of the grassy area. She was told no.
“They have to follow these rules,” she said. “I have never seen anything like this anywhere.”
Janet said the paperwork she signed did not say how the marker would be positioned in the ground.
A Golden Gate Cemetery spokesperson sent us a statement saying,
“Foot markers are the only option available for single-space burial spots at Golden Gate Cemetery, as stated in our policies and procedures.”
“must maintain a uniformity and consistency throughout the cemetery.”
“When I come out here today and I look, I don’t see any consistency there are markers and headstones and all different order and forms, and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Friedman.
Raymond was honored at the state capitol for his life’s work giving back to others.
“Helping save a lot of people who were suffering from substance abuse and were victims of domestic violence,” explains Friedman.
And now, Friedman says she’s on a mission to help honor his memory now.
“A last gift to a man that I love for 26 years to show respect. To give him the gift of making sure that his resting place is done correctly. This was my best friend and the love of my life.”
After some back and forth with the cemetery, they agreed Friday to move Raymond’s marker three to four feet within the plot Friedman purchased. It’s a good reminder to ask these questions at the time of purchase. You should ask exactly where the plot will be and where the marker or stone will be positioned.
Who regulates cemetery plots in Texas?
The Texas Department of Banking (DOB) regulates pre-sold cemetery issues because it is considered a financial product. This is also the place where you can make a complaint if you are dealing with a similar issue.
Full statement from Golden Gate Cemetery
“Foot markers are the only option available for single-space burial spots at Golden Gate Cemetery, as stated in our policies and procedures. We value the trust our clients’ place in us when choosing their loved one’s final resting place, and must maintain a uniformity and consistency throughout the cemetery.”