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Residents upset Abbey Mausoleum leaking, staining tombs

Posted: 8:23 PM, Oct 13, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-14 09:17:26-04

The state's largest mausoleum is under fire after residents say they found loved one's tombs covered in water damage from a leaky roof, paint chipping from walls and standing water on the floors.

Previous owners dealt with the issues at the Abbey Mausoleum inside the Rose Hill Cemetery, and now the problem lies in the hands of the new owners.

Resident's who have laid loved one's to rest there call it a place of serenity, but there's something unsightly.

"It was the most disgusting thing I've ever seen," said Ron Weindorf who has a loved one entombed at the mausoleum. Weindorf is also a KJRH employee relative.

Behind these doors of the Abbey Mausoleum lies the history of Tulsa.

Names like "Skelly" and "Leland Schumway "- an architect who designed the fairgrounds pavilion and several schools.

Many other names too, all overshadowed by the condition of their resting place.

"There's peeling ... all the paint's peeling off the walls, there's water on the floors, there's stains on the marble that covers the tombs," Weindorf said.

It's a disturbing sight for some and the mausoleum owner's say they agree, it's a frustrating sight, but they're doing the best they can to restore it.

"My wife and I purchased the Rose Hill funeral home and cemetery Oct. 31 of 2013," Hal Ezzell, owner of Rose Hill Cemetery said. "It was a package deal, we purchased it out of receivership."

The owner's agreed to include the Abbey Mausoleum, built in 1926 as is, and in need of major repairs.

"Unfortunately over a long period of time, the mausoleum was allowed to go into a state of disrepair," Ezzell said.

He says before he bought the place, the roof went out, causing major leaks.

A repair estimated to cost $350,000.

"There's supposed to be perpetual care for the families and it's not, not at all," Weindorf said.

Ezzell tells 2 Works for You that Oklahoma law requires you to create a fund called a perpetual care trust fund to deposit a percentage of sales into.

"But what it is really designed to do is provide for the care and maintenance for the cemetery after it fills up," Ezzell said.

Rose Hill Cemetery says that fund isn't large enough to cover even a third of the annual grounds keeping expenses, leaving no money for mausoleum repairs.

Meanwhile, families wait, as the cemetery's 100-year anniversary approaches.

The owner says he's been paying out of pocket for minor repair repairs to the mausoleum, things like lighting.

But he says it could be years before all the work gets done. We'll continue to track the progress.

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