Widower receives refund for late wife's headstone

Man signed contract with Granite Knight Monuments in 2015

By Mike DeForest - Investigative Reporter

MAITLAND, Fla. - Days after contacting News 6 for help, a widower who says he waited more than three years for a monument company to make a headstone for his late wife received a $650 refund from the business.

"I met Joyce when she was 14 years old and I was 16," said Seymour Fox. "I saw her sitting on a couch at a party, and I sat down alongside of her."

The couple had been married for 56 years when she died in 2013.

"She was my 'Earth Angel,'" said Fox, referring to the hit song that came out shortly before their 1957 wedding and that was one of his wife's favorites. "She was the best."

Nearly two years after Fox's wife was laid to rest at Glen Haven Memorial Park, Fox signed a contract with Granite Knight Monuments to create a headstone to mark her gravesite.

Fox paid a $500 deposit for the headstone, the contract shows. He said he later gave the monument company salesman an additional $150 to add a vase to the headstone.

"Initially, he said (it would take) about three months," Fox said.

Yet more than three years after Fox signed the contract, work on the headstone has not yet begun, a company official confirmed to News 6.

"I call him. He doesn't return my calls," Fox said of his attempts to contact the president of Granite Knight Monuments to get a refund for the incomplete headstone.

Phone records provided by Fox, which News 6 could not independently verify, indicate that he called the company at least 16 times between July 2017 and April 2018.

Fox, 81, claims he also stopped by the company's Orlando office several times in search of the proprietor.

"I would drive up, his car would be out front, but he wouldn't come to the door," said Fox.

When a News 6 reporter visited Granite Knight Monuments to inquire about Fox's refund, he had to knock loudly on the front door over a period of several minutes to alert workers in the back of the building.

Shane Moore, the president of Granite Knight Monuments, immediately acknowledged that Fox was entitled to the $650 refund.

"It was 'out of sight, out of mind,'" Moore said in response to a question about the delay in refunding Fox's deposits.

Moore claims he left a voicemail for Fox about the refund sometime last year but did not place a follow-up call to ensure Fox received the message.

According to Moore, various design issues caused the headstone to be delayed, including the addition of Hebrew writing requested by Fox.

More significantly, Moore said the cemetery requires the edges of headstones to be beveled, something his company could not do.

That beveling work was subcontracted to a Georgia monument company that did not do the job, said Moore.

At the time Fox signed the contract for his wife's headstone, Granite Knight Monuments did not have a valid Florida license required to sell monuments that are placed in cemeteries, state records show.

According to the agency that regulates the cemetery and funeral industry, Florida's Division of Financial Services,  Moore's license expired in 2013.

Moore was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine as part of a 2016 settlement agreement related to the expired license, state records show.  

However, later that year the state agency issued an emergency license suspension after it claims Moore failed to pay the fine in time.

Moore declined to tell News 6 whether the fine was eventually paid or whether his license to sell cemetery headstones was ever reinstated.

"I'm working with the state, trying to figure things out," said Moore.

He insists his business was properly licensed at the time Fox paid him, despite what state records show. 

Moore's company does not currently appear in a license search on the website for the Department of Financial Services.  An agency spokesperson confirmed the company's licensed was revoked.

Although the website for Granite Knight Monuments displays numerous photos of cemetery headstones, Moore told News 6 he has temporarily stopped selling such items.

Instead, Moore said his company is only manufacturing memorials and other stone products for non-cemetery use, which does not require a state license.

Less than two weeks after News 6 contacted Granite Knight Monuments, Fox was invited to the company's office to pick up his $650 refund check.

"He was a nice guy," Fox said of Moore. "He said he just couldn't do the job."

About a year ago, Fox found a different company to create and install a headstone at his wife's gravesite.

Per Jewish custom, Fox leaves a small stone on her grave marker whenever he visits the cemetery.

"When you put them down, it's to say 'I've been here. Somebody is thinking about you. Somebody loves you,'" he said.

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