Virginia church sues family to force them to remove “offensive” gravestone

Wilmer Frank Soles died on of throat cancer on June 24, 2011.  His last request was for his daughter to make sure he had a nice headstone on his grave.  She carried out his wishes and spent over $4,000 on a tombstone. Mr. Soles’ tombstone included two pictures. The first picture is of his truck. The second is of Mr. Soles playing cards and drinking Kentucky Gentleman bourbon with his friend Butch.

But the church that owns the cemetery found the content in the pictures  offensive and informed the Soles family that the tombstone would need to be removed, NBC12 reports.  The family initially refused to change the headstone. The church then sued the family to get them to either remove the pictures on the headstone or replace the headstone altogether.  The church demanded that if the headstone was not changed, the family should move the body to another cemetery. According to news reports, lawyers for the church claimed that the Soles family “had no right to erect a monument or stone that is offensive to the members of Salem United Methodist.”

Rather than fight the church in court, the family decided to remove the headstone.  This outcome is pretty disappointing.   I can’t really understand what was so offensive about the images at issue.  Pickup trucks, whiskey and cards are held in high esteem in much of the southern United States.

My heart goes out to the Soles family. The next time I go to my local wine shop, I am going to find the smallest possible bottle Kentucky Gentleman and buy it. Then, I am going to have a very tiny sip (I’m a bit of a bourbon snob) in honor of William Soles.

Bonus video: Jimi Hendrix – If 6 was 9
Mr. Soles tombstone includes a quote from the late, great Jimi Hendrix: “I’m the one that has to die when it’s time for me to die so let me live my life the way I want to and that’s just what I did.”

Lyrics at this link.

A photo of the so-called “offensive” headstone is here.


~ by siouxsielaw on September 8, 2012.

One Response to “Virginia church sues family to force them to remove “offensive” gravestone”

  1. good lawyers wear black? aren’t the first 2 words of that sentence an oxymoron? shouldn’t it instead be: good lawyers give other people excuses to wear black (at their (the lawyers’) funerals)?

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