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When Patty Davis was asked whether she would like to be cremated at death, she responded that she was terrified by the idea and said she would like to be buried in the front yard of her home instead. Being a good husband, Jim Davis put his wife's grave in the front yard when she died in 2009.
Jim Davis lives in downtown Stevenson, Alabama. While the city is not big, Davis reportedly lives in the heart of the city, and not some rural area sitting on acres of land.
As a result, his putting his wife's grave in the front yard sparked outrage from neighbors and local government officials, reports The Associated Press. The city even sued Davis and a county court ordered that Davis disinter his wife. However, Davis appealed the decision and he may be able to keep his wife's grave in the front yard after all.
While putting your wife's grave in the front yard may seem like a strange legal battle, the legal issue really boils down to a property owner's right to use his property as he pleases, reports the AP.
On the one hand, property owners in this part of the country appreciate the ability to be left alone and to have the right to use their property as they please. In fact, a neighbor who got into a fistfight with Davis over the wife's grave, agrees that Davis should be allowed to use his property as he pleases, writes the AP.
However, city officials combat that we are no longer living in the 1800s and that residents shouldn't simply have the right to use property as a cemetery just because they want to.
Given "home rule," or the general right of a city to pass laws protecting public health, safety, and property values, the City of Stevenson likely has the right to tell Jim Davis where he can have his wife's grave. However, an interesting twist may be that the city already has a law on the books that allows family plots on private land.
So if Patty Davis' final resting place is found to be a "family plot" -- and not a "cemetery" -- Jim Davis could win his fight to keep his wife's grave in the front yard.