12 Investigates: Family removes headstone after lawsuit

Published: Sep. 3, 2012 at 8:38 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2012 at 8:38 PM EDT
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GLOUCESTER, VA (WWBT) - - A Gloucester family has decided to remove a controversial headstone, rather than fight a church in court.

The family of Wilmer Frank Soles will remove Soles' headstone from his grave at a cemetery owned by Salem United Methodist Church in the next two weeks.

The church sued after Soles' family denied their request to have a picture of a liquor bottle buffed from the headstone, even after the church offered to pay for the removal.

Wilmer Frank Soles died of throat cancer in June of 2011. The Soles family said it paid $4,000 for the marker.

On it is a picture of 'Soles,' as he liked to be called, a picture of his favorite pick-up truck and a photograph of Soles playing cards and drinking with his friend Butch.

Lawyers argue the family "had no right to erect a monument or stone that is offensive to the members of Salem United Methodist or to those who have loved ones buried there."

The story generated a firestorm of controversy as property rights were argued in court. The family said it owns the burial plots. In court documents, the church said neither the family or Soles have any property rights.

Church trustees declined to comment.

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