COLMA (BCN) – It’s difficult for Renee Sallein-Roehm to visit her parents’ grave at the Hills of Eternity Cemetery in Colma.

There’s a mistake on her parents’ headstone. It’s been wrong for more than a decade, but no one realized it until last summer.

“This is just wrong. It’s just wrong,” Sallein-Roehm said during a recent visit to the cemetery.

Sallein-Roehm’s father, Arno Sallein, is buried on the right side of the double plot. But the Holocaust survivor’s inscription is on the left side of the double headstone at the gravesite.

“Most troubling for me is knowing that my mom and my sister was crying over this side, and he wasn’t even on this side,” Sallein-Roehm told Consumerwatch.

Just as troubling was how the problem came to light. Sallein-Roehm said the cemetery uncovered the mistake as it was preparing to bury her mother last summer.

“We had no idea until the night before we buried my mother. I got a call from Hills of Eternity saying there’s been a mix-up,” she says.

So while the grieving family watched, Arno Saline’s widow was buried on the left side of the double plot under her husband’s inscription.

Neither the cemetery, “Hills of Eternity Cemetery” nor “Art in Stone,” the company that made the monument would appear on camera. But each said, the other company should have caught the mistake.

The cemetery and the monument company also both said the Saline family bears some responsibility because the family approved the final design.

“We just figured they knew. I didn’t know we were supposed to know what side they were on. I didn’t think that was our responsibility,” Sallein said. “We thought two reputable companies would at least talk to each other before they did it incorrectly.”

It has become a painful situation that is keeping this family from resting in peace.

“I just hope this never happens to anyone else,” Sallein said.

Once ConsumerWatch became involved, the monument company and the cemetery agreed to split the cost by turning the stone, and re-engraving it correctly so it can accurately reflect where each person is buried. But the correction has not happened yet.

ConsumerWatch will update this story when it is fixed.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (5)
  1. Mrs. Thomas Fenwick (on the right side!) says:

    This is something they have always asked me BEFORE the stone was etched and set – who would be on the right and who would be on the left. Had they asked this it would have been in the paperwork. The sad thing is that a time when the two daughters of Mrs, Sallein just lost their Mother, these girls have to argue with the cemetery and the stone people, who, by the way, must have made a bundle on this double site and stone. Fix it and get it finished. This is totally ridiculous that you are not very apologetic and have this finished immediately. Jewish people are very respectful of the bodies of their loved ones.

  2. Michael Rader says:

    My name is Michael Rader, and I am the VP at Art in Stone. I am the person who has been handling this matter, and I feel that I must respond to this report because it paints my firm in bad light, without proper justification.

    After being contracted to manufacture the Sallein memorial, being given the grave location by the Sallein family, having a contract indicating where the inscription was to be placed, submitting to the cemetery a drawing of the memorial indicating where the inscription was to be placed, and having the family inspect and APPROVE the design template prior to any etching…..Is the monument firm supposed to dig up every grave to make sure someone is buried there prior to creating a memorial?

    Also, this being a Jewish cemetery, there are specific customs that are usually observed. Customarily, in the Jewish faith, the husband is buried on the left and the wife on the right. Almost 99% of all Jewish headstones in Colma are produced in this fashion. Being Jewish myself, I can vouch for the accuracy of this tradition.

    Art in Stone went above and beyond taking reasonable precautions to ensure a situation like this never happens, Unfortunately, in this instance the family needs someone to blame for this situation, but we are not the ones at fault. Furthermore, when this issue was initially brought to our attention, we were willing to work with family in resolving this issue until the point they decided to involve an attorney, making threats of litigation. Those threats rapidly closed the lines of communication that were necessary to have resolved this issue quickly.

    Upon being contacted by a KPIX reporter, and explaining the entire situation to her, we once again offered to cover half of the associated costs. We did not do this because we erred in any way…we did this in an attempt to assist a grieving family find some closure. After numerous reassurances, the reporter (and KPIX) failed to honor their promise, by producing this report painting us in a negative light. I used to appreciate ConsumerWatch and the service they provided, but after seeing how information provided to them was so easily twisted around, and promises not honored, I will think twice about trusting any of their future reports.

  3. Art in Stone says:

    This headstone has been fixed and reinstalled in the cemetery, a long time ago. Perhaps its time to update the story!

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