Carver Memorial Cemetery leaders file for bankruptcy

Carver Memorial Cemetery leaders file for bankruptcy

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A closed sign is in the window of the office at the George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens. Source: WBRC video A closed sign is in the window of the office at the George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens. Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video

The leaders of George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens filed for bankruptcy Tuesday. In the voluntary petition, cemetery leaders are seeking Chapter 7 protection.

According to a court filing, cemetery officials held a meeting on Monday, October 8.  In that meeting, a motion was voted on and approved to file for bankruptcy.  

The cemetery closed in September because of financial troubles. Several people with loved ones buried at the cemetery are concerned about the business' future.

FOX6 News has received dozens of calls from concerned family members. Those family members say the cemetery is not being taken care of.

"We're very frustrated because we have loved ones here and the grounds have not been taken care of," Gary Singleton, whose father is buried at the now-closed cemetery.

Court records going back several years also show complaints about bodies being misplaced at the cemetery.

Sylvester Clements, Jr. came to the Carver Memorial on Tuesday to check on his father's grave after learning news of the closure last week.

"I guess my main concern again is upkeep and whether they are going to hold up their end to make sure the plots are neat and clean," Clements said.

Birmingham Representative Juandalynn Givan has urged the Alabama Insurance Department to investigate the company. Givan said a team of investigators from the department arrived Tuesday morning.

"This was procedure for them to come out to see where Carver cemetery was located, to do a span of the grounds," Givan said.

Givan said insurance officials told her Carver Memorial is an endowment care cemetery which means if they sell cemetery plots, they must set up a trust fund to maintain the property.

"They have never submitted any information or proof that they have an endowment trust fund set to go," Givan said.

Givan said the state insurance department could find no official report of such a trust fund.

Meanwhile, Fred Reed sells memorials and vaults. Reed said his company has been caught up in the uncertainty of the cemetery's future.

"I told a family member if I can help them I will help them, but we can't come into here without paperwork that they do own the lots and all," Reed said.

Givan met with an attorney representing the cemetery Tuesday afternoon. Givan also plans a second meeting of those with loved ones buried at Carver Memorial a week from Tuesday.

FOX6 News will have more on this latest development tonight beginning at 5 p.m. 

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