Woman upset, confused that loved one’s bronze grave marker appears to be rusting

Problem Solvers
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. —  A Missouri woman wants answers after visiting her great grandmother’s grave. She says the bronze plaque appears rusted and it’s hard to read the name. Because bronze is never supposed to rust, she called Problem Solvers for help determining why this permanent burial marker appears to be disappearing.

Beth Berger remembers her great grandmother Mary Wyman as perfect and she wants to make sure she’s not forgotten. That’s why Berger was upset when she visited her grave over Mother’s Day and saw that her bronze marker appeared to be rusting.

“I cried,” Berger said. “I was upset.”

She was particularly shocked at the difference between her great grandmother’s marker and that of her great grandfather. He died 10 years earlier, but his marker is still in nearly pristine condition.

When she complained to Floral Hills Cemetery in Kansas City, she said she was told that this was the natural weathering process and if she wants a new marker, she’ll have to pay for it.

“Bronze and copper are guaranteed to never rust, no matter what the weather,” said Berger whose great grandmother died in 1992.

Besides, why would the weather so severely affect her great grandmother’s grave, but not her great grandfather’s, lying just a few inches away? That’s when Berger decided to call FOX 4 Problem Solvers, a call her great grandmother would have advised against.

“She would probably say don’t fuss over it,” Berger said. “But I’m going to fuss over it. She raised me from a baby.”

Problem Solvers talked to several grave-marker experts who pointed out that her great grandfather’s grave was military issued since he was a veteran. Those markers are among the highest quality bronze with the heaviest lacquers.

They said often the spouse’s marker will be ordered from a different company and may not be the same quality. In fact, there are a lot of faux bronze markers being sold and because they contain metals other than bronze they do rust.

FOX 4 Problem Solvers then paid a visit to DW Newcomer’s which owns Floral Hills. Newcomer’s general manager Kirk Kinsinger visited the grave site with us to inspect the marker. He noticed that even the date of death portion, which is also made of bronze, and is the most recent addition to the grave, is also now orange.

That led him to believe that what might be happening to the grave is not rust at all, but the patina developing in the bronze. But since even he wasn’t sure, he is asking a representative from the marker’s maker, Granite Bronze, to inspect the marker and make sure it meets the standards that both Newcomer’s demands (88 percent bronze) and the family expects.

A representative of Floral Hills has since contacted the Berger family and, after further review, believes what is happening to the marker is just part of the natural patina process. But since the family is upset, the cemetery has decided to go ahead pay to rebronze the monument.

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