Grave marker stolen from veteran’s grave

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 24, 2011

By Karissa Minn
ROCKWELL ó A temporary marker on the grave of a World War II veteran was reported stolen Wednesday morning from Brook Hill Memorial Gardens in Rockwell.
According to the report from the Rowan County Sheriffís Office, the 50-pound bronze marker was worth about $800.
It bore the name of Pfc. Ken Whitley, who served in U.S. Army communications for three years during World War II. He died May 15 and was buried May 18.
ěI could not believe that anyone would do that,î said his son, Wayne Whitley, on Friday. ěIf someoneís passed away, and you go in and disturb their resting place, you canít replace that.î
June Isaman, who works at the cemetery located at 8625 U.S. 52, reported that the theft occurred between 10 and 10:45 a.m. Wednesday. The grave marker is the property of the cemetery.
The temporary grave marker is a 24-inch by 12-inch bronze block with slide-on letters, Isaman said Friday. It wasnít the only one on display at Brook Hill Memorial Gardens at the time, but no others were taken or tampered with.
ěWe were just shocked,î she said. ěWhen the permanent marker comes in, weíre hoping theyíll leave it alone.î
Wayne Whitley said he doesnít know why someone would steal his fatherís marker in particular.
ěMy dad was 89 years old. There were not many people who didnít like him,î he said. ěIt would take somebody hard up for a dollar to do itî for money.
The Rockwell family has ordered a permanent marker from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to honor him. One part already has arrived, and now theyíre just waiting on the base.
But until then, the grave of Ken Whitley wonít bear his name.
ěIíd just like to know who would do something like that,î Wayne Whitley said. ěIíd like to see the people come forward.î
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.