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Bankrupt Cemetery Could Leave Plot Owners Without Final Resting Place

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SANFORD, N.C. — It is not something that happens every day. But a local cemetery might wind up on the auction block.

Lee Memory Gardens in Sanford is bankrupt. People who bought plots and vaults there may be left without a final resting place.

It looks like a peaceful place, with flowers and quiet visitors. But these days, Lee Memory Gardens is a cemetery in turmoil.

Gene Harrison has a brother buried here. He also has paid hundreds of dollars for a plot that he may lose, along with his money.

Harrison is not the only one.

"It is quite upsetting for me because I've paid for everything," plot owner Ezre Person said.

Apparently, the cemetary's books did not add up. So bankruptcy court took over, appointing a lawyer to protect people's interests -- people like the Harrison family.

"I guess he answered (the lawyer) answered a lot of questions," Harrison said. "But, still, there are a lot of unanswered questions as to what's going to happen. Nobody's sure right now."

Like other people, the Harrisons must wait to see what bankruptcy means for them, especially if the cemetery gets auctioned off.

The lawyer said people who own plots may not lose out. But people who are making payments on vaults and markers could be out hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars.

"People, like he says, have got more invested than we do," plot owner Lillian Haires said, "and that's going to be hardest on them."

So, families worry, not just about the past, but also about the future -- because something that was supposed to be set in stone is not anymore.

A hearing on the matter is set in bankruptcy court for later this month. At that point, plot owners hope to have a better idea of what will happen.


Jason Stoogenke, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Paul Ensslin, Web Editor

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