Widow of retired Lakeland officer paid $1,575 for headstone that was never delivered

Better Call Behnken

Headstone was to include husband's badge number and honor his service in the US Air Force during the Vietnam War

LAKELAND, FLA. (WFLA) – After spending most of her life married to the love of her life, visiting his gravesite is supposed to bring comfort to June Kessler. But she’s sad and angry about his undelivered headstone.

“We were married 51 and a half years and I just want our tombstone to fit both of our graves,” she said.

So in September, she paid $1,575 in full for a specialized headstone. It’s supposed to join the marker he received from the VA for his time in the US Air Force in Vietnam and would also include Kessler’s badge number from the Lakeland Police Department, where he served for nearly 20 years.

She still has no headstone, after paying for it almost eight months ago and can no longer reach the business.

June and her son, Jason, tell Better Call Behnken they were promised in February that it would be a couple more weeks … but now, no one answers the phone or returns emails.

The Lakeland Police Department confirmed that Neil Bruce Kessler worked as an officer from 1977 until he retired in 1995.

An internet search for the business indicates it could possibly be permanently shut down, although there is no sign indicating that.

On the front door of the business is a homemade sign notifying customers that the office is closed, however, the business phone has a greeting that says the business is experiencing difficulty with its phone lines and to send an email.

Investigative Reporter Shannon Behnken sent two emails and left a voicemail message. None of which were returned.

A nearby business owner indicated numerous customers have stopped by recently looking for National Memorials and concerned about undelivered headstones.

A spokesman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office says they will look into this situation.

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