An Iraq war veteran’s SpongeBob SquarePants headstone has been removed from her resting place because Cincinnati cemetery officials deemed it inappropriate for their traditional grounds.
The headstone of Kimberly Walker, 28, was made in the likeness of her favourite cartoon character and erected at Spring Grove Cemetery on Oct 10, almost eight months after she was found dead in a Colorado hotel room.
Despite getting the cemetery’s prior approval of the headstone’s design — a smiling SpongeBob in an army uniform, with Walker’s name and rank — her family said cemetery staff called them the day after it was installed to say it would have to come down.
The 7ft headstone, along with a near-exact duplicate erected for Walker’s living twin sister, have been removed and will not be allowed back up, said cemetery president Gary Freytag.
“We’ve decided that they aren’t appropriate for our historic cemetery and they can’t be displayed here,” Freytag said, adding that the employee who approved the headstones made an inexplicable error in judgment, given the cemetery’s traditional, stately appearance.
He acknowledged that the cemetery is at fault and that staff members would be meeting with Walker’s family to try to find a solution, which could include a more traditional gravestone bearing small likeness of the character.
Walker was an army corporal assigned to the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion and served two year-long tours of Iraq in 2006 and 2010 as a petroleum supply specialist, her family said.
Walker was found dead in a hotel room on Valentine’s Day, beaten to death. Her boyfriend, an army sergeant stationed nearby, was arrested and charged with her killing.
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