Montcalm Township cemetery dispute resolved

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 10:06 am on Thursday, December 08, 2011

Friends and family of Helen Peer watched in tears on Tuesday as Peer was lifted from her grave in East Montcalm Cemetery to be placed in the right plot five rows away. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

MONTCALM TOWNSHIP — Helen Peer’s surviving children have reached an agreement with Montcalm Township to move her body without taking a months-long dispute to court.

Peer’s family and friends watched in tears Tuesday as Montcalm Township officials unearthed Peer’s vault and casket. Both were moved to a grave five rows away in East Montcalm Cemetery, where Peer was supposed to get buried 14 years ago.

“It’s like a funeral all over again,” said Terry Witzel, one of Peer’s daughters.

Witzel said the township dug up both graves prior to Tuesday and the family was notified Monday that Peer’s remains would be moved the next day.

Montcalm Township Supervisor Michael Adams gave his condolences to the family at East Montcalm Cemetery. He said it was an unfortunate event for everyone involved.

“I feel terrible for Terry and (her family),” he said.

The township’s expense for reburying Peer was a little less than expected because it didn’t have to take the case to court. Township Clerk Carol Rosebrook said exhuming and reburying Peer will cost the township between $1,500 and $1,800.

The township discovered Peer was buried in a plot that was previously purchased for members of the Lepley family, five rows away from she was supposed to be buried next to her great-grandson.

Township officials in part blamed shoddy records from the 1990s for the mixup. Nobody is sure why Peer was buried in the wrong place.

Witzel said the township offered her family two more cemetery plots free because of the mess, but she is not interested in them.

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