Cemetery Says Family Can't Put SpongeBob Headstone Over Daughter's Grave

Kimberly Walker loved SpongeBob SquarePants.

The 28-year-old Army sergeant was an avid collector of SpongeBob items — for toys to clothes to shower curtains — and they followed her wherever she went.

So, after the Ohio native was found dead in a Colorado hotel room, allegedly murdered by her soldier boyfriend on Valentine's Day, her family knew she'd want SpongeBob following her into the next life as well.

After burying Walker with a SpongeBob doll, her family purchased six plots at the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, and, with the cemetery's blessing, set out to design two 7,000 Sponge-Bob-themed headstones for Kimberly's grave.

After months of waiting, the $26,000 monuments finally arrived.

"They stand 6 feet tall and he’s 4 feet wide and he’s on a platform of eight inches, so it makes him 6 feet 8 inches tall," Kimberly's mom Deborah told WLWT.

One of the SpongeBob statues wears an Army uniform in honor of Kimberly; the other wears a Navy uniform just like Kimberly's twin sister Kara who is an IT Specialist.

And both monuments have been fitted with an American flag and the number 24, representing Kimberly's favorite racecar driver, Jeff Gordon.

"I thought it was the greatest thing in the cemetery," Deborah told News 5. "I even told the people there that I think this is the best monument I’ve ever seen. It’s the best headstone in the cemetery and they all agreed."

The cemetery also agreed — but then abruptly changed its mind.

A day after the Walkers installed the monuments over their bought-and-paid-for plots, cemetery officials ordered their removal.

"Although the family chose a design with the guidance of a Spring Grove employee, unfortunately the monument did not fit within Spring Grove Cemetery guidelines," cemetery President and CEO Gary Freytag said in a statement. "As an historic cemetery, we must constantly balance the needs of families who have just suffered a loss with the thousands of families who have entrusted us in the past."

Freytag claims the cemetery is attempting to work with the Walkers to design a solution "that will properly memorialize Kimberly, within the context of Spring Grove’s historic landscape and guidelines."

But Deborah and the rest of the family believe they shouldn't have to compromise. "I feel like, and we all feel like, SpongeBob should stay there," she said.

[screengrab via WLWT]