Mar 4, 2006

Grave Inflation


(Detroit, MI) The Detroit Free Press reports that the interment of the late civil rights icon Rosa Parks has created a spike in the prices of vaults in a memorial mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Spaces in the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel were priced at $17,000 before the cemetery gave free spots to Parks, her husband and her mother. The spaces are now priced at $24,275, while the slots nearest to Parks' crypt may fetch $65,000.

Family members of Mrs. Parks are not pleased with the way that events have unfolded.

"Her burial was supposed to be private matter, not a spectacle," said nephew William McCauley, the closest living relative to Rosa Parks. "I know some people might want to be buried near her, but we're just private people and so was she. When will people stop taking advantage of her legacy?"

"No, no, I don't think we're profiteering at all," said Wade Reynolds, CEO of the management company that operates Woodlawn and many other Michigan cemeteries.

Reynolds said that the new prices will cover maintenance costs, improvements to the chapel, and bring a "reasonable" profit. No buyers have yet placed bids on the crypts.


Mrs. Phoenix said...


Sometimes I wonder why God continues to be merciful with the human race...

White Mormon Patriot said...

I can't believe it! Another predatory speculator is trying to transform Rosa Parks' corpse into a cheque! I second Mrs. Phoenix's question.

Give the relatives of Rosa Parks credit for speaking out against this piracy. In contrast, it's disgusting the way the relatives of Martin Luther King have tried to gouge every last penny out of the memory of Dr. King.

Stephanie said...

This is outrageous, yet... The facility did offer the service free, if I recollect your article properly, so something like this might have been suspected. A company offering something free is often a form of advertising.

liberal_dem said...

'Location, location, location.'

-Sepp said...

It is a rather strange "coincidence" that the price goes up. On the other hand, the cemetary will have increased costs to cover general maintenance (IE lawncare, cleaning, removing mementos people leave) around Park's gravesite. Parks will indeed generate a lot of people paying respects and increased wear and tear. Even though it's a cemetary, it's still someone's business and livlihood.

historymike said...

What surprised me most about this story was that there seem to be people willing to pay this kind of money for a couple of square yards of space.

We live in a market-focused world, so I understand the behavior of the cemetery owners.

What is to be gained by the dead people? That's easy - nothing. They can't take the crypt with them to their next destination.

For the surviving family members, the decision to buy such a high-priced item such a must revolve around vanity.

The Media Can Be Wrong said...

Woodlawn Cemetery Honors Rosa Parks

DETROIT -- March 11, 2006

Woodlawn Cemetery Statement:

“The Woodlawn family feels very strongly that Mrs. Parks’ final resting place should be a secure and dignified environment where generations can come to revere her memory. It was to honor Rosa Parks, and only to honor her, that we dedicated the mausoleum as the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel. We regret that the misinformation contained in recent news stories has caused additional heartache and pain to her family and to all who revere this great woman.”


To honor the legacy of Rosa Parks, Woodlawn Cemetery and its parent company Mikocem, LLC, dedicated a mausoleum and donated crypts and entombment services for Mrs. Parks, and for her husband and mother who were buried elsewhere in the cemetery.

Woodlawn originally presented a proposal to dedicate the chapel and donate crypts in 2004.
Three days after her passing, the legal representatives of her estate graciously accepted the offer. It was the Cemetery’s understanding that Mrs. Parks’ family was consulted, and offered an opportunity to purchase crypts in the chapel.

In the week before her funeral, Woodlawn Cemetery made major upgrades and enhancements to the chapel necessary for a person of Mrs. Parks’ stature. Most importantly, a high-level security system was installed, allowing the chapel to be open to visitors wanting to revere her memory. Additionally, the chapel was painted and new carpet, improved lighting, benches and monuments were installed. The area was landscaped, trees were cut down and roads were patched. A major underground upgrade to the electrical system is underway.

Mikocem donated crypts, disinterment and entombment fees and bronze inscriptions for the Parks family, and is absorbing more than $60,000 in renovation costs. Also, they are staffing the chapel when opened to provide additional security.

Although the crypts in the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel have never been marketed, a private party contacted Woodlawn expressing interest in the seven remaining couch crypts near Mrs. Parks. They understand they will benefit from the recent enhancements, and are honored to have this opportunity to support these efforts.

Built in 1895, this structure was renovated in 1999 to serve as a mausoleum and has 10 couch crypts (the last remaining crypts of this prominence in the cemetery), 60 single crypts, and a seating area for services.