By Verna Gates
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - An Alabama man lost his fight on Friday to keep his wife buried in the front yard of the home they shared for decades.
The remains of Patsy Davis, who died in 2009, were removed from the unusual grave in Stevenson, Alabama on Friday morning.
The grave was filled in and only the headstone remained after widower Jim Davis complied with a court ruling earlier this week and agreed to cremate his wife's remains at a local funeral home.
"He was disappointed, but he felt he had done all he could do to keep her at their home," Davis' lawyer Timothy Pittman said.
Davis, a 74-year-old former Marine, had vowed he would never remove his wife's body from the property. He also said the burial place was on his "piece of America" and in keeping with his wife's last wishes.
But his legal battle with the Stevenson City Council, which objected to the grave has been an uphill struggle since it began last year.
The Alabama Supreme Court had already ruled 5-3 last month that the remains of Mrs. Davis be removed from the grave. A court order issued on Wednesday, reinforcing that ruling, was just a formality.
Family cemeteries are not unusual in rural Alabama, but Parker Edmiston, an attorney for the city of Stevenson, said unlicensed cemeteries violate Alabama law. All burial sites must pass health department inspections and get approval from local governing bodies, he said.
In rural Stevenson, drainage or runoff from the Davis grave could have seeped in to nearby wells or into the system of the restaurant 100 feet away, Edmiston added.
Davis could not be reached for comment on Friday.
(Editing by Tom Brown and Leslie Gevirtz)