Same-sex couple claims area cemetery removed marriage date from headstone

YELLOW SPRINGS — A man feels as if Calvary Cemetery in Dayton is trying to erase his same-sex marriage.

Darrell Frye told News Center 7′s Haley Kosik he believes they purposefully defaced his husband’s headstone.

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Frye met Jason Neto in 2007 and planned to spend the rest of their lives together until Jason died from a heart attack in 2020.

“Suddenly and unexpectedly,” said Frye. “We were two weeks into the lockdown at that time.”

The pandemic slowed down the burial process but after more than two years, Jason was cremated and laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery.

“And I chose the sanctuary preserve, because that was very much what Jason,” Darrell told Kosik. “In the spirit of what Jason as a person.”

Jason was brought up Catholic and was gay.

“I knew that this (Calvary Cemetery) was a Catholic cemetery and I point blank asked, I said, ‘is it going to be a problem that we’re a gay couple and buying a plot here?’”

They rest assured him it was not an issue and Darrell then bought a memorial boulder for his husband’s grave.

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“And with a 30 character limit, it was difficult,” he said. “So I just decided to keep it simple and put our marriage date. Married July 23rd, 2016.”

It took about a year for the boulder to be complete and was placed on Jason’s grave in August of this year.

“It looked good,” Frye told Kosik. “It had exactly what I had sent, you know, names, dates and then the line about how we were married.”

Then, on Labor Day weekend, Frye visited the cemetery and the headstone was gone. So, he drove to cemetery’s office and asked why.

“And they told me at that time the engraver had done a tour and done an inspection and had notice that some of the text, the edges were crumbling,” said Frye.

And it was brought back to the shop for repairs.

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About a month went by and then the headstone reappeared but not in its original condition.

“The line about our marriage is just erased,” said Frye. “They dug into rock to erase our relationship, yea.”

As if losing his husband was not hard enough, now this.

“I mean it’s part of life as a gay man in America in 2022.”

Darrell has been trying to reach the cemetery for more than a week.

“Nobody from Calvary will talk to me.” said Frye.

He’s talked to an attorney because Frye wants what he paid for.

“Between the funeral and burial plot, almost five figures.”

News Center 7′s Haley Kosik heard back from Calvary Cemetery.

“In consideration of the family, we will communicate directly with them, and release a statement at the appropriate time,” the cemetery’s executive director said in an e-mail.

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