JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) - It’s been more than a week and a half since we first heard that George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens may be closing.
The lack of detailed information from the management is causing widespread speculation about what the future holds for the place where civil rights martyr Virgil Ware is buried.
We continue to hear from concerned stakeholders who are worried about their dearly departed loved ones and in some cases their prepaid burial plots.
Sunday the gate is wide open there are still work trucks parked on the property, but there is no sign or notice of closure. The only word we’ve had so far from the management came more than a week and a half ago from an employee who simply said George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens would be closing and the last funeral would be that weekend.
Now we do know, based on what we’ve heard from one of the reported agents listed with the Secretary of State’s Office online that they can’t provide any answers either and merely serve to forward legal mail on to the actual business owner.
Prepaid plot owner Darlene Dulaney contacted and agreed to meet with us to show us her certificate of ownership for a burial plot that she purchased for her aunt.
“It does concern me and my reason for concern is that I have an aunt that is presently, will be 99. Next month will be her 99th birthday. Back in 2005 we purchased a grave plot for her and my concern is, who will be honoring this certificate of ownership which I have for that plot, in the event of her death? That is my biggest concern,” said Dulaney.
She says she has tried to reach out to the cemetery management, but the phone has been disconnected for more than a week.
“And I also contacted, myself, the federal bankruptcy courts. They have no listing of this particular place that had filed bankruptcy. The only suggestion they gave me was to go back to the news and see what they’re talking about in Delaware and see could I contact them in Delaware,” said Dulaney.
Delaware based CT Corporation is listed as the cemetery’s agent as reported on state business and tax records available online.
We contacted CT Corporation multiple times by phone multiple times over the last two weeks and Friday received an email response from Public Relations Senior Manager, Nicole, Young of Wolters Kluwer Corporate Legal Services, containing the following:
“Following up on our call, CT Corporation does not have information about whether or not the cemetery in question is closing. Below is a description of the services CT provides,” said Young.
“CT Corporation plays an important role in helping businesses legally conduct business in the U.S. and ensuring they are compliant with all state and local laws. CT Corporation does not provide advice or counsel about where to incorporate, what entity structure to choose or the tax statues of each state.
Once a company is formed, state law requires that businesses appoint a registered agent to receive service of process of their behalf and must list the address of said registered agent with the Secretary of State.
A Registered Agent receives legal notices and documents on behalf of another legal entity like a business, and forwards them quickly so that every company can be reached for legal, tax and other official reasons in a timely manner.”
A local pastor and funeral home director says there’s a lot of talk about what might happen at the cemetery, but his main advice to anyone who is concerned is to be patient.
“We understand and we’ve been told that the cemetery is going to bankruptcy, that it has happened and that if that be the case then there, I don’t feel any need to be anxious because we’ve gone through this before with the Shadow Lawn funeral home and the state took it and sent a conservator down. And they’re still burying out there those that had, and I believe the same thing will probably happen with Carver. I have a special interest there because all of my family- my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, my aunts, my grandparents, my uncles, my great uncles and aunts and quite literally my family is buried there. I’ve had some people to contact me and see if I thought it was necessary for them to exhume the bodies and move them, but I don’t think so at this time. And I think at this juncture we just need to be patient and see what the courts and the law is going to do. And then most of all there’s a higher power. And I believe that someone will intercede on our behalf. I just, I don’t see as many people, hundreds of people maybe thousands who’ve invested money there and some who’ve purchased graves and have paid so, I think that it will be alright, we just have to be patient,” said Dr. Bernard Williams, Pastor of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, Co-owner of Westside Funeral Home.
For more of the back story and to see our coverage of this issue, click here: