Brothers move mother to hometown cemetery

Photo provided by Steve Patton Brothers Steve Patton, left, and Gordon Patton make preparations to bury their mother, Bill Ward Patton, on Saturday at Hope Cemetery. The brothers moved their mother, who died seven years ago, to the cemetery to honor her dying wish to be buried next to her father.

Kevin Wilson

Seven years after their mother died, two brothers made good on a promise.

Clovis natives Steve and Gordon Patton buried their mother, Bill Ward Patton, Saturday in Hope Cemetery. It was the seven-year anniversary of the date she was buried against her wishes at Mission Garden of Memories in Clovis.

“My mom passed away seven years ago, the 21st of January 2005 (three days shy of her 84th birthday),” Steve Patton said. “Her dying wish was that she was to be buried where she grew up.”

But that didn’t happen, Steve said. Their father, W.G. Patton, decided to have her buried at Mission Garden of Memories in Clovis. The brothers never figured out what his reasons were, but they weren’t happy about it.

“My brother and I looked at each other and said, ‘There will be another day,’” Steve Patton said.

That day came in June, after their father died. The two worked with Steed-Todd Funeral Home on a New Mexico Vital Records and Health Statistics disinternment-reinternment permit.

The permit required signatures from the superintendents of Mission Garden of Memories and the Hope Cemetery, located about 20 miles west of Artesia.

Mission Garden of Memories Superintendent Rodney Muffley said the procedure is rare but is usually done when a family wants to move a relative to a family plot. Depending on the paperwork finished, a body can be moved within the state or across state lines.

The brothers took about two-and-a-half hours to exhume their mother Friday morning. The headstone, coffin and vault were placed in the back of Steve’s truck, and taken Saturday morning to Hope. They arrived in Hope around 12:30 p.m. and left at 4 p.m., with their mother lying next to their grandfather, John C. Ward.

“A promise made,” said a tearful Steve Patton, “is a promise kept. We told her we’d do it, and we did it.”

The family grew up in Clovis. Steve lives in the Ranchvale area, while Gordon lives in Roswell.