Man visiting mother’s grave ‘panicked’ after noticing cemetery’s mistake

Posted at 7:36 PM, Jun 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-01 19:36:26-04

MILWAUKEE – A Milwaukee man says he was shocked to see a stranger buried next to his mother in the cemetery plot reserved for his father, who is still alive.

"I just can't make sense of this," R.C. Smith told WITI. "I approached the mound and immediately I knew that somebody was in my dad's space there."

It is a mistake that Smith said he wouldn't wish on anybody.

Smith went to visit his mother's grave at Union Cemetery in Milwaukee, only to find out the shared plot -- meant for his father -- had fresh dirt on top of it.

"My dad is still alive! 90 years old, much alive and well," Smith said.

Smith called the manager for answers and told them:

"Dad is not dead, he's not dead. At the same time I'm kind of panicking because I'm like, 'what's going on?' They come back to the phone and they say 'we're sorry, we made a mistake. It's not your dad it's your sister that passed away.'"

There was also a problem with that, because Smith's sister is still alive too. In fact, no one in Smith's family has died recently. As it turns out, the person buried there is another man named Smith.

"My dad's name is Mr. Otha Louis Smith, and the gentleman that's laying there beside her[Smith's mother] is Mr. Otha Lee Smith."

Realizing the mistake, the cemetery manager is now working to make things right, after making "incorrect assumptions."

"We're extremely sorry that we didn't do a better job of asking the right questions," said William Hoffmann, Union Cemetery general manager.

Hoffmann says the employee who made the error has been talked to and he hopes to set things right at no cost to either family.

"Somebody has to go, and I'm not comfortable, this is personal with my mom still being in this particular spot," Smith said.