Ohio dad at odds with cemetery over memorial

KENT, Ohio (AP) – A northeast Ohio man is locked in a legal fight over an elaborate shrine he erected in a cemetery at the grave of his adult son.

The city of Kent, which operates Standing Rock Cemetery, has taken issue specifically with two large pictures of Fred Molai’s son that hang on poles more than 8 feet high. The cemetery says they were put up without permission, and people have complained.

Molai sued the cemetery and Portage County to try to keep the photos up, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. A judge ruled earlier this month that the case should be decided by the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Committee, part of the Ohio Department of Commerce. Molai said he plans to file a complaint with that agency.

Kent Law Director James R. Silver said he couldn’t comment on the pending litigation.

Molai’s son Adam was a U.S. Navy petty officer when he died in a rafting accident nearly three years ago. He had been stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore, not far from Fresno.

Fred Molai, 57, said he has visited the grave every day for more than 2½ years. He said he bought 15 cemetery plots at $500 each and is using only five of them for his son’s monument, meaning there is green space on all sides.

He and Adam’s mother, Bridget Sanders, created the memorial that includes numerous silk-flower arrangements, 10 American flags, a granite marker inscribed with Adam’s picture, an image of a Navy F-18 Super Hornet, like the one he worked on as a technician, and his drum kit. The two tall poles hold photos of Adam in uniform. The memorial is 16 feet wide and 4 feet deep.

The cemetery trustees, in an effort to compromise with Molai, asked that he remove the taller poles and have the pictures reinstalled on smaller posts so that they would not “tower over the headstone.” But Molai did not agree to the compromise.

“I cannot have a limit for the love I have for my son,” he said.

He said the daily visits and the shrine help with his grief.

“If I don’t come here, I just go crazy in my head,” he said. “It is the closest I can get to him.”

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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