Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cemetery plots at center of Dade City dispute

DADE CITY — The owner of six grave sites in a city-owned cemetery is threatening to sue the city after discovering two people he doesn't know have been buried in plots he inherited from his grandfather.

William "Buddy" Rogers Jr. of Orlando, through his attorney, informed the city that he either wants the remains of Frank Hatcher and his wife, Bessie, removed, or to be paid for the two plots and two more empty adjacent grave sites he owns in the cemetery, located off Martin Luther King Boulevard.

"This situation is entirely unsatisfactory to my client," Orlando attorney Mark Koteen wrote in a letter to city attorney Karla Owens.

The letter, sent March 1, was something of an ultimatum, threatening a civil action if the demands are not agreed to by April 1. Owens brought the matter to the commission last week.

Rogers' grandfather, L.G. Rogers, died in 1966 and left the six grave sites to his grandson, but the titles to them were not formally transferred until November 2011, according to Koteen's letter. Since L.G. Rogers' death, three people were buried in the plots. Rogers' great-uncle, Jessie Sumner, was buried earlier, in 1952.

Three plots down from Sumner, the husband of L.G. Rogers' sister, the Rev. Bayless Porter, is buried. The Hatchers are buried between the two — Bessie in 1983 and Frank in 1990. The plots on the other side of Porter are empty.

Owens told the commission the city has pored through cemetery records trying to find information on the Hatchers' burial to no avail. The city did, however, speak to the Hatchers' son, Frank, who said permission was given by L.G. Rogers' sister for them to be buried there. In a response to Koteen, Owens wrote that as a result of that information the city "will not either disinter Mr. and Mrs. Hatcher or make payment for the cemetery lots."

Koteen responded that if that is the case, "Rev. Porter's wife greatly overstepped her authority as the sister of L.G. Rogers," and the city should not have allowed the burials without permission from his client.

Buddy Rogers, through Koteen, declined to comment for this article.

During the meeting last week, Owens sought commissioners' advice on how to proceed. Commissioner Scott Black offered to continue to research the issue.

"I just think I need to know more," Black said Tuesday.

Cemetery plots at center of Dade City dispute 03/18/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 8:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. North Korean missile launch may be testing rivals, not technology


    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's latest missile test Monday may have less to do with perfecting its weapons technology than with showing U.S. and South Korean forces in the region that it can strike them at will.

    A woman watches a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday,. North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in Japan's maritime economic zone Monday, officials said, the latest in a string of test launches as the North seeks to build nuclear-tipped ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland. [AP Photo/Lee Jin-man]
  2. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Samantha Bee on Florida felonies

    State Roundup

    Comedian Samantha Bee traveled to Florida, where she says "retirees and democracy go to die," to shed light on how the state makes it difficult for felons to regain the right to vote.

    Samantha Bee hosts Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS. Bee portrayed some of Florida’s felonies as not so serious on her show.
  3. For some, Memorial Day comes around more than just once a year


    ST. PETERSBURG — It is shortly before nine on a Friday morning, and the heat is already approaching unbearable levels at Bay Pines National Cemetery.

    Iles carefully digs up the St. Augustine grass so that it will continue to grow when it is placed back on the gravesite. He tries not to disturb the root base.
  4. State budget uncertainty has school districts 'very concerned'


    While waiting for Gov. Rick Scott to approve or veto the Legislature's education budget, the people in charge of school district checkbooks are trying hard to find a bottom line.

    It has not been easy.

    The unsettled nature of Florida’s education budget has left school districts with questions about how they will make ends meet next year. []
  5. Ernest Hooper: Removing Confederate symbols doesn't eliminate persistent mindset

    Human Interest

    The debate has begun about removing a Confederate statue from outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse, and its removal is long overdue.

    Robert E. Lee Elementary, 305 E. Columbus Drive in Tampa, originally opened its doors in the early 1910s as the Michigan Avenue Grammar School. [Times file]