Cemetery with history facing uncertain future

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The cemetery where civil rights martyr Virgil Ware is buried and where his father was buried this week is now reportedly set to close.

On Wednesday before the funeral for James Ware Sr., the manager on site told CBS 42 that the cemetery was closing and that the final funeral would be this Saturday. She couldn’t say what comes next.

The phone number has been disconnected at George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens. The office was closed Thursday morning and one of the gates was locked.

Neighbors and frequent visitors say it’s usually open at that time of day.

A number of customers are worried about what the future holds for their departed loved ones and for prepaid cemetery plots.

Several carloads of concerned customers showed up looking for answers Thursday morning, but there was no one from the management to greet them.

“The number has been changed, no emergency contact number, so there’s nothing we can do. And hopefully when they have the funeral, what Saturday? I’ll be up here then, because you know I need answers and the other people need answers, everyone who has a loved one that is buried here needs answers,” said Wanda Ware.

James Ware Sr.’s granddaughter, told us Thursday that she had not heard family told us Thursday that they had not heard that it was closing. According to the Jefferson County Tax Assessor’s Office says there are no delinquent taxes listed for the property.

Founded locally in 1955, business records from the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office now list the cemetery business entity as an out of state corporation, based in Delaware.

Attempts to reach the incorporating agents were unsuccessful Thursday. We’re still trying to pinpoint who owns it and what this might mean for the future of the cemetery.

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