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A nearby resting place

Michael Schiavo said he would bury his wife in Pennsylvania. He chose Clearwater, and a plaque: "I kept my promise."

By GRAHAM BRINK and JACOB FRIES
Published June 21, 2005

[Times photo: Jim Damaske]
Schiavo's grave sits by a pond under an oak tree at Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park in Clearwater. Sand obscures words on the plaque. Next to the grave is a granite bench with her name.

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CLEARWATER - Michael Schiavo buried his wife Monday under a sprawling oak tree, near a kidney-shaped pond at a Clearwater cemetery.

Schiavo prevailed earlier this year in a bitter battle to have Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed. He said she told him before her collapse in 1990 that she would not want to live in a vegetative state.

The engraving on the stone marker reads:

BORN DECEMBER 3, 1963

DEPARTED THIS EARTH

FEBRUARY 25, 1990

AT PEACE MARCH 31, 2005

And then, under an engraved bird carrying a branch:

I KEPT MY PROMISE

The final line of the inscription recalls a controversy that garnered worldwide attention.

Even the burial location - Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park on Sunset Point Road - comes as a surprise.

Schiavo had said before his wife's death that he intended to inter her cremated remains in her home state of Pennsylvania.

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, objected. They wanted their daughter buried in Florida.

A judge sided with Michael Schiavo, but ordered him to give the Schindlers "notice of any memorial services and the location of cemetery where the ward's remains are interred."

The Schindlers received notice of the burial spot on Monday. The notice did not say why Schiavo had changed his mind, nor did a short statement issued by Schiavo's lawyer.

A priest conducted a service at the cemetery. It was attended by Schiavo and at least one of his brothers, according to the statement.

Neither Schiavo nor his lawyers could be reached Monday for comment.

David Gibbs III, attorney for Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said some of the Schindler family likely would have attended the ceremony if they had known about it.

The family, though, was pleased about Schiavo's change of heart to bury his wife in the Tampa Bay area, he said.

"Most of the family lives here," he said. "It gives them the opportunity to visit the grave site."

He was not as happy about the inscription. "Obviously, that's a real shot and another unkind act toward a grieving mom and dad," Gibbs said.

Schiavo died March 31, 13 days after the court-ordered removal of her feeding tube.

Her plight, and the struggle between her husband and her family, made headlines around the world and drew hundreds of strangers to the Pinellas Park hospice where she eventually died.

Autopsy results released last week showed that Schiavo had profound and irreversible brain damage and that she also was blind. The autopsy revealed no signs of abuse or traumatic injury.

It is still unclear what led to Schiavo's collapse in 1990.

The grave site was deserted Monday evening.

A polished stone bench inscribed with the name SCHIAVO stood just behind the marker.

Six pink roses and some white lilies overflowed from a vase. The soothing sounds of a fountain floated over the pond. The wind rustled through the oaks.

Terri Schiavo, the source of so much conflict, was finally laid to rest.

--Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Graham Brink can be reached at 727 893-8406 or brink@sptimes.com

[Last modified June 21, 2005, 12:23:24]


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