Tarpon Springs to move forward with proposal to change restrictive headstone rule

Better Call Behnken

The rule is keeping the daughter of a World War II veteran give him a proper headstone

TARPON SPRING, Fla. (WFLA) – The Tarpons Springs City Commission is moving forward with plans to change an old city rule that some say hurts grieving families who just want to honor their loved ones.

The commission approved the proposal by Vice Chair Jacob Karr but denied his second proposal (4-2) to make an exception in the meantime for the Bridges family, profiled in a Better Call Behnken investigation.

“I do feel that requiring somebody to spend thousands of dollars to go through probate isn’t something that we should be doing from a city side and we should really be looking towards a humanitarian side of someone losing somebody,” Karr said during the public board meeting.

Margie Bridges wants to put up a headstone to honor her father, Williams Bridges, a World War II veteran who is buried in Cycadia Cemetery.

“All I want to do is put a rock on that grave,” Bridges said. “That’s it. I just want his name, and the fact that he’s a World War II veteran carved for everyone to know how special he was.”

Under the current Tarpon Springs city regulation, she’ll have to get a court order.

The problem? Tarpon Springs requires “the owner” of the gravesite to give permission for the headstone. Mr. Bridges did not have a will, so there is no executor of the estate to make that decision.

Bridges said she has consulted with lawyers and going through probate could cost her thousands of dollars just in order to be able to buy the $1,200 headstone.

“At 17, he enlisted,” Bridges said. “He fought. He was on the beaches of Normandy and on the day he died, he had shrapnel in his chest. He fought for this country and now fighting for him to be recognized.”

Karr said he expects a final vote by the end of the year.

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