Ohio veteran finds wife’s grave in ‘unacceptable’ condition

Ohio Statehouse Newsroom

Ossie Tackett is an 89-year-old military veteran battling prostate cancer.

He found himself fighting for his life five years ago and through the care he has received at the VA and through cancer specialists at other hospitals, he has survived.  

“I take life a day at a time,” said Tackett.

And a day doesn’t go by without Tacket thinking about his wife, Edith.

“You just don’t realize how much I miss her,” said Tacket. “I’ve missed her every day.”

Ossie married Edith in 1952 and they moved to Chillicothe in the 70’s after he retired from the service.

“She was a military wife throughout my whole career just about,” said Tacket. “She made a lot of sacrifices.”

Two of the couple’s children were born in Germany and it was Edith who got the family overseas and back home.

In Ossie’s eyes, she was as much in the military as he was. Edith died in 1988 due to health complications.

When they moved to Chillicothe, they purchased funeral plots at the Floral Hills Memory Garden, a stone’s throw from their home.

Ossie visits Edith as often as he can.

“When we go over there, the grass has grown just a little bit around the headstone; we pick it all out with our hands,” said Tacket.

Last week, he found their grave site covered in piles of dirt and debris excavated from the plot next to his.

The wife of the couple with the plot next to theirs had died and was to be interred.

The earth was spread across several dozen feet and all over the Tacket’s grave sites; Edith’s marker was buried and the marble headstone was chipped in several places as a result.

We returned to the grave site a week later and nothing has changed. 

According to professionals at Union Cemetery in Columbus who viewed our footage of the situation, the state of the grave sites are not acceptable.

Last month lawmakers passed a bill that changes laws that cemeteries have to abide by when it comes to making sure there is money set aside to care for the grounds long term.

It also creates a grant fund that will help cemeteries pay for maintenance and training of staff.

The Ohio Department of Commerce is in charge of overseeing the enforcement of the laws related to cemeteries and released this statement today:

The oversight of Ohio’s cemeteries is a responsibility we take seriously. The passage of House Bill 168 helps by giving the Division more authority to assist in cemetery complaints and ensuring that cemeteries are complying with Ohio Cemetery Law. Additionally, a grant program will be established through this passage, which will offset some of the maintenance and training costs associated with operating a cemetery. Our team is hard at work formulating the guidelines for the implementation of this new law, specifically the Cemetery Grant Program.

Like most bills, the new law goes into effect 90 days after the Governor signs it.

Unfortunately, the law will have no immediate impact for Tackett’s current situation. However, it should make it so things like what happened to them do not happen to other families.

Floral Hills has been in legal disputes for years, ever since the sale of the cemetery.

Tackett says, the original owners he purchased the plot, vault, headstone and plaque from were wonderful people who cared about the cemetery.

He says it has gone downhill since the sale.

A volunteer has been trying to maintain the cemetery as the legal disputes have not been settled.

It is a different individual who is responsible for the excavation and interment.

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