CINCINNATI — Army Sgt. Kimberly Walker survived two tours of duty in Iraq — only to be killed back home, allegedly by her boyfriend.
Now, eight months later, her family is mourning again because they can’t keep two SpongeBob Squarepants memorials at her gravesite.
To say Walker loved the cartoon character may be an understatement.
“Every year, my sister had a SpongeBob birthday party,” Walker’s twin sister Kara said. “Everything she had was SpongeBob.
Even her curtains and bathroom were decked out with the underwater fry cook’s image, her mother told CNN affiliate WLWT.
“The funeral home actually bought the pillow of SpongeBob and we asked if they could put it in her casket,” Deborah Walker said.
So the family decided to spend $26,000 on two massive SpongeBob monuments at Walker’s gravesite — one in an Army uniform for Walker, and another in a Navy uniform to honor Kara, an IT specialist for the Navy.
Each of the monuments stands more than 6 feet tall and weighs 7,000 pounds.
Before the family ordered the SpongeBob memorials, it got the go-ahead from a cemetery representative, Deborah Walker said.
“They came and said, ‘Yeah, we can go ahead and do SpongeBob.’ She gave us a statement, we signed a contract, and then they started the design,” the mother told WLWT.
The stone SpongeBobs finally arrived on October 10. But less than a day later, Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati said it was going to remove the statues.
“The family chose a design with the guidance of a Spring Grove employee who unfortunately made an error in judgment,” the cemetery’s president told CNN. “The monument does not fit within Spring Grove Cemetery guidelines, was not approved by senior management and cannot remain here.”
Walker’s family is devastated.
“It was just heartbreaking,” Deborah Walker said. “I just felt we were just trying to honor her wishes.”
The family is going to meet with officials from the cemetery on Tuesday. Spring Grove said it is working with the Walkers to design a solution at the cemetery’s expense “that will properly memorialize Kimberly.”
By Pamela Brown and Holly Yan, CNN