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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Families are concerned about the upkeep or lack thereof at Calvary Memorial Cemetery. And it’s not the first time we’ve heard these sort of complaints.

“I wish there was something that I could do. I don’t want my mother to be here, I don’t want my grandmother to be here or my uncle,” Gwendolyn Robinson said.

Robinson says she was shocked by what she saw during her most recent visit to her mother’s grave.

“I haven’t been out here for about three weeks, but I didn’t expect to see what I am seeing now, and it’s awful and heartbreaking to know that people’s loved ones are laying in all this mess,” Robinson said.

It’s a mess that WWAY has heard about before. We first heard about the issues back in 2009 from a woman was concerned about the state of the cemetery after it changed hands. Last year the cemetery’s owner said he is the only one responsible for maintaining the entire seven-acre graveyard. He even suggested that families should call ahead before they visit so he would have time to have their sites cleaned up.

“It’s been overgrown or whatever, but I have always seen workers out here cutting the grass, but it just seems like they have forgotten about us,” Robinson said.

Robinson says the lack of upkeep is not the only problem. She says her uncle’s grave marker was vandalized.

“He had a metal plate that was covering his final resting place. I came out here about a year ago, and it was gone,” she said.

Robinson says she just wants the property properly maintained, because after all, her mother, grandmother and uncle paved the way for her family.

Calvary Memorial Cemetery owner Jack Krupicka did not want to go on camera, but he did say the grass would be cut by the end of the week. The trash is also scheduled to be removed Friday.

Comment on this Story

  • Janice Robinson

    I am not related to the young lady who spoke on the news concerning the up keep of Calvary Cemetery,but after visiting my mother’s grave who was buried there on August 12th 2013 i was surprised the very next day to see this young lady on the news because that is where i spoke to others with loved ones buried there about going to the news to bring this concern out to the public. I buried my son there in 1997 and it was a well kept cemetery at that time. Since then i have buried a brother as well as a grandson and to see how the cemetery has gone down is a disgrace. It is not as if our loved ones last resting place is a land fill but that is what it appears to be. It is not as if these plots are free,because after all we the family pay for them to be buried there and with the cost of burying them the up keep should not be a struggle nor hardship for the owner to do. My loved ones grave sites have also been vandalized and going out there yesterday finding the dead flowers still on my mother’s grave since the 12th of August was very disturbing. The trash and lawn appeared to have been there for quite some time and i feel the City of Wilmington should fine the owner for allowing a cemetery to become a eye sore. But if the situation is not taken care of immediately, i would suggest we all that have loved ones in Calvary take this matter to City Hall and see what changes can and should be made concerning the up keep of Calvary.

  • Tracie C

    Would this be one of the cemeteries that people on probation are sent to clean up? I know for a FACT the guy at the cemetery on Princess Place Dr. gives those lovely gents and ladies credit for hours they don’t even work!
    Maybe the department of probation should hook their people up with this poor guy and he might actually get some help.

  • Gwendolyn Willis-Robinson

    I agree with you 100%. Something has to be done. I have already contacted all three African-American funeral homes and County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield. It is a disgrace. This is the 4th time in 4 years that this cemetery has been on the news. Like I mentioned in my comments, things will get better for a little while and then they go back to this. It’s like some people just sweep it under the rug and hope it will go away. It’s not going away. It’s not getting better. I am taking names of people that are concerned about the cemetery. Please be in touch with me. GwenJWillis@aol.com

  • Myfamilyisburiedthere

    I go to Calvary all the time and yes the grass does go few weeks not mowed from time to time. When this happens I look around and see how many new graves have been dug. There is usually a minimum of five new graves when this happens. Each grave represents hours of digging, half day of a funeral each. Then an hour to cover up the vault, replace flowers and then move to the next one. Two funerals a day and that is a day you cannot mow. There are on average three funerals a week. It rained just about ever day this summer. Hard to mow in the rain. When it rains he also has to fill in the graves that have settled. The process take hours. As for the metal plate “covering” the grave. This is an index size card. A very temporary aluminum card place to mark the grave by the funeral home. It is the responsibility of the family to properly mark the grave with a granite or bronze marker. I bought my family’s markers the week after they were buried. You can not expect that little card to stay there for weeks, months or most of the time years. If he stopped to move every card that has been left out there he would never get the grass mowed. He has a big book he keeps up with where everyone is buried. Mr. Jack has even allowed poorer families to construct memorials out of wood, concrete, and pavers. No other cemetery that I know of will allow that. Living on a fixed income this was the most economical place I could bury my family. Please factor these things in when you are unhappy about how fast the grass is getting cut.
    Burying the deceased and having a quiet environment for the funerals is top priority. If not he can mow the grass during the service and you can watch out for the sink holes he won’t have time to fix. Jack has answered the phone or returned my call every time I have called about my family’s graves.
    People litter, leave flowers that aren’t secured, and procrastinate buying memorials. He also installs for free the majority of the markers put in there. These things take time away from mowing the grass.
    Thank you Jack.

  • anne

    Remember when families would go together to keep the cemetery clean and upkept? Do they now pay for this? If so, then it should be done. If not, perhaps the families could get together and schedule times to clean up. Just saying.

  • Gwendolyn Willis-Robinson

    Yes. It is a part of the funeral cost.

  • Gwendolyn Willis-Robinson

    I am the lady that gave the interview. The promises that Mr. Kurpicka made were all broken. It is still heartbreaking. I went to visit my grandmother and her grave is so overgrown that it is unrecognizable. When families pay for their loved ones final resting place, we are paying for all the upkeep. After all it is suppose to be a place of honor and dignity. A majority of the families are still having to grieve because of this situation. You can’t blame inclement weather for the problems that exist out there because he had promised that by the weeks end the issue would be resolved and it was not and the weather was fine. Sure, some people will look at this situation and just ignore it. The problem will probably go away for a little while like it did before but some people fail to realize that this problem has been reported 4 different times in 4 years. My family and I cannot afford to have our loved ones exhumed but trust me if we could we would because it is just “that” serious. You can pass by Greenlawn and it’s not unkept. Ride by Pine Forest…not unkept. I have considered getting other concerned families to come together and we all go out there and get to work. But we have already grieved. When we go to visit it should be a place where we can reflect on our loved one’s memory. It should be a place of honor and dignity. If he cannot maintain the cemetery then hire some help. Sell it. Reach out to the community and as one person mentioned in the comments get probationers to go out there and complete some community service hours. I am not going to let this rest. One families views about the cemetery may be different than mine. Maybe they have had a better experience. All I know is that my families experience has not been good. I have spoken to several people in our community. Everyone from local funeral directors to county commissioners. Something will be done!

  • Tammy Mayhew

    My Name is Tammy Mayhew my Mother and Grandmother is also buried out there in Calvary Memorial Cemetary I came home back in feb of 2013 for a dedication ceremony we put there tombstones down and I was pissed the trash and old flowers that was out there it was a mess cups, bags it was a mess out there and when you call him he does not pick up the phone the day thepeople came out to put the tombstones down he would not answer his phone and that was ashame I was very mad if I had the money I would get the exhumed and moved to a better cemetery cause this does not make no sense at all and when I see all the grave out there it be so much dirt on top of it that’s sad I pray it gets better for his sake no one wonts to go visit there love one with the cemetery looking like that.

  • Gwendolyn Willis-Robinson

    That’s not actually a bad idea.


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