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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Husband protests rules by moving wife’s remains

     

    Frustrated with a church’s updated cemetery rules, Chuck Clark unearthed his wife’s casket Wednesday morning to move her remains to another graveyard.

    The 74-year-old Moreau resident and father of five children relocated his wife’s final resting spot from St. Alphonsus Cemetery on Luzerne Road in Queensbury to Southside Cemetery along Route 32 in Moreau because he said he was fed up with new rules and regulations imposed last summer.

    A Catholic church closure changed the supervision and maintenance of the cemetery, leaving many families dissatisfied with different rules and regulations they said no one told them about.

    “”Just taking everything off the grave sites and throwing it … behind the garage, it seems like that should be criminal,”” Clark said.

    St. Mary’s Cemetery Committee member Bill Casey said families with relatives buried there saw their decorations disappear because of new oversight and a change in policies.

    “”How it happened was a terrible mistake,”” Casey said, adding that he was not an official parish spokesman, only a committee member. “”People were hurt, and understandably so. That is their sacred ground.””

    Restricted items listed in St. Mary’s online rules for St. Alphonsus Cemetery include decorations like flower boxes, flags and solar lights.

    Clark, who still rides a motorcycle, speaks with a friendly and stern tenor-like pitch and has a button he wears with the picture of his wife, Eunice, whom he was married to for nearly 52 years.

    He said he put the decision up to a vote between his five children and they told him to move the remains.

    Clark said that’s what she would have wanted, and he knew her better than anyone else.

    He has made a habit to visit his wife’s grave every other day. Eunice Clark died Feb. 28, 2009, so the family had to wait until warmer months to bury her remains.

    After St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church closed Aug. 1St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church inherited the Queensbury cemetery.

    Staff members, Manerowski and a three-member Cemetery Committee adopted rules and regulations Aug. 2 for the new property.

    Rather than have different restrictions for the two cemeteries now under its care, the church chose to keep them uniform so contractors overseeing both cemeteries would have consistent procedures, Casey said.

    The Clarks were married at St. Alphonsus in 1957.

    The changes at St. Alphonsus Cemetery prompted several letters to the editor in this newspaper. The Post-Star later discovered Casey’s intentions for his wife’s reburial, which the paper reported about on Oct. 8 along with other concerns regarding the removal of cemetery plot decorations.

    Casey said the committee and Manerowski met to discuss the situation after the story was published, Casey said.

    Some of the cemetery’s old rules should have gradually been dealt with, rather than dramatically all at once, Casey said. He suggested a change in contractors contributed to the situation.

    A longtime caretaker of St. Alphonsus Cemetery, who worked under the St. Alphonsus church, enforced more lenient regulations and rules for decorations, Casey said.

    An interim maintenance worker took care of the cemetery’s grass, but his work ended last winter, Manerowski said Wednesday.

    St. Mary’s Cemetery staff are currently responsible for burials at St. Alphonsus Cemetery, Casey said.

    In the wake of the controversy, Manerowski also proposed making the committee more than just an advisory committee.

    “”When we talked, we basically said if it’s going to be a committee of just advisory, (there’s) really not much sense in having a committee,”” Casey said.

    The committee has since gained new responsibilities, but still only provides recommendations.

    The committee recently reviewed cemetery contracts and interviewed candidates for the first time, which was never done previously, Casey said.

    Those recommendations went to the Finance Committee for a final determination with Manerowski, he said.

    The Cemetery Committee was formed under Manerowski’s priesthood at St. Mary’s as a way to address complaints, Casey said.

    People had expressed dissatisfaction about hired caretakers, he said.

    He said the Cemetery Committee was unaware of the removal of the decorations until The Post-Star story was published.

    At Southside in Moreau, Clark said he can decorate his wife’s grave accordingly.

    “”They tell me I can have what I want, even small trees and shrubs, which I don’t want. I just want the normal things: planted pots, our ladybug flag, solar lights and nice flowers in an urn.””

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