Troubled Memphis area cemetery addresses complaints, promises to clean up

Problem Solvers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Evidence has been mounting against Forest Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park, which has three Memphis locations.

The cemetery faces numerous citations from Tennessee regulators and a long list of unhappy customers.

Merdis Pewitt regrets what she sees every time she visits her husband at the Midtown location’s mausoleum.

The building has a dirty exterior covered in decaying and crumbling material.

“There’s a lot of it falling off, all along the bottom here,” she said. “It makes me feel pretty bad because I’m gonna be buried there and I wanna make it look right.”

She tried to get the cemetery officials to fix it but says no one could give her a straight answer about what to do.

“I didn’t know where to call or who to call,” she said.

So instead she called the WREG Problem Solvers. We got to work, digging into state records that show Pewitt is not alone.

Complaints to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance reveal the depth of the issues; state regulators say they routinely wouldn’t file death certificates on time and never delivered on items customers had paid for.

The issues resulted in six fines from the state in 2020 and one so far in 2021.

WREG has also spoken with other family members in the past who expressed frustration.

“I didn’t know they had those many complaints. If I had known… I didn’t check it out,” Pewitt said.

It’s a warning for others, but for Pewitt it’s too late. She’s already paid $8,000 for her and her husband’s plot. She wants the mess cleaned up.

When we visited the mausoleum with her, we noticed yellow caution tape around the building. She said she’d never seen that before. So we went to management to ask what’s happening.

The man at the office insisted we get in touch with their corporate owners.

Lindsay Granson, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Forest Hill’s Pennsylvania-based parent company, StoneMor, contacted us.

Pewitt didn’t even realize that’s who owned the cemetery. She had never heard of StoneMor.

In an email, Granson said they’re “in the process of fixing the mausoleum” by ordering new materials and making updates “as soon as possible.” She clarified that “due to the age of the mausoleum, it has been difficult finding replacement marble” but promised progress in the coming weeks.

She clarified to say construction would start May 10.

“I just would like them for them to keep it up,” Pewitt said.

In response to the multitude of additional complaints, Granson sent this statement: “We have a team of people from all over the country on planes now to head to Memphis for the next two weeks. We have hired all new management and have split our funeral and cemetery operations to make sure that we can work through issues quickly and serve our families better. We are making every effort to quickly get the locations back to exactly what the families are expecting. I am certain that with the new management team in place as well as the assistance from others on our team that we will have this fixed as soon as possible.”

StoneMor declined the WREG Problem Solvers’ request to interview any of the visiting team or new managers.

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