Family: Cemetery trustees dispute approval for headstone of Clark Co. boy who died of cancer

CLARK COUNTY — Two years after a Clark County boy died of cancer, his family members are still trying to get a headstone to mark the boy’s grave.

>> PHOTOS: Headstone design center of ‘impasse’ between family of Barrett Fitzsimmons and cemetery

Barrett Fitzsimmons died in 2019 at 9-years-old after a three-year battle with cancer. However in the months since he passed, Barrett’s parents said they have been in a battle with the cemetery to place a headstone to mark his grave. His family said the holidays always mark a tough time.

“This will be our third, our third Christmas (without Barrett),” Barrett’s father Brad Fitzsimmons said.

Barrett was 6-years-old when he was diagnosed with a rare childhood liver cancer. He died in May 2019, two months shy of his 10th birthday. He was buried at Myers Cemetery but over two years after his death only a metal cutout of a t-rex and a Barret Strong poster mark his grave, with no headstone placed yet.

In a Facebook post posted Monday afternoon, Barrett’s mother Lana said the headstone battle with the board at Myers Cemetery has been over the design of the headstone. In the post, Lana said board members called the headstone design “distasteful” that features a picture collage of Barrett.

Lana and Brad spoke to News Center 7′s John Bedell Tuesday. Since submitting the headstone design for approval, the cemetery board approved the size of the headstone and took payment from the monument company to pour the concrete footer. However the family said the cemetery trustees rejected the design they came up with.

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“We were not out to trailblaze a path with what we’re trying to do. We wanted a respectful, traditional monument with some unique and modern touches on it,” Brad said.

Brad and Lana said the board told them the issue is with the number of pictures on the monument and that there were too many. The cemetery board said no other headstone on the property has more than four images on it.

The family then requested a vote on the design during the board’s yearly meeting in June. Brad and Lana said the design was approved by a vote of 17 to 4.

“The next Monday I called the monument company and said he go ahead with the monument, we got approved to design it,” Brad said.

Shortly after that call, the board told the family the vote was no good and the headstone was still a no-go. The family requested a copy of the meeting minutes and that document from the board shows the vote was 14 to 4 and said the measure on the headstone design “does not have a majority vote needed.”

A copy of the letter the board sent to the monument company, provided to News Center 7 by the Fitzsimmons family, shows the board mentioned their rules and regulations and said “there has not been any approval for such monument from your company by Myers Cemetery trustees.”

Now the Fitzsimmons say they’ve paid the money for a concrete footer that hasn’t been poured and are on the hook for over $3,600 in storage fees for the headstone with the monument company. And that tab grows by the day as the headstone sits in storage.

“We want to go to the cemetery and we want to grieve - like everyone else,” Brad said. “We want to go to the cemetery and not think of how are we being wronged?”

News Center 7 reached out to the president of the cemetery board of trustees Tuesday, who deferred comment to their lawyer. News Center 7 left a message with that attorney Tuesday and we have not received a response.

Nathan Stuckey, the lawyer representing the Fitzsimmons family, told News Center 7 in a statement Tuesday it is clear that both sides are at an impasse and that litigation appears to be imminent. Stuckey added that a lawsuit will be filed in the very near future.

We’ll continue to update this story with developments as we learn them.

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