Centerville private land burial ‘unique’ for real estate broker’s widow

CENTERVILLE — The widow of a Dayton-area real estate broker who died in August can bury her husband’s remains on private property in what one city official called a “unique situation.”

Don Wright’s wife of 40 years is allowed a “one-time interment of human remains on private property within the city limits as long as the family owns the property,” says a measure approved by Centerville City Council on Monday night.

Gayle Wright asked the city to allow the building of a 120-square-foot mausoleum on the Wrights’ 13.5-acre property on Centerville Station Road to honor her late husband, a co-founder of Roberds Furniture who also ran Don Wright Realty for decades before his death at 83.

Gayle Wright’s request was “evaluated with existing land use restrictions” and discussed with Public Health–Dayton & Montgomery County, Centerville City Manager Wayne Davis said in a statement.

“This is a unique situation, and we do not anticipate many other properties in the city would qualify in a similar manner,” Davis added.

Public Health spokesman Dan Suffoletto said in an email “as long as the death certificate is properly completed by a doctor, we have no specific concerns about a home burial. Residents would have to refer to their local city for any specific rules they may have.”

The resolution approved by Centerville allows burials only on private properties of 12 acres or more, said Kate Bostdorff, the city’s communications director.

Property size “isn’t always a determining factor, but it could be,” said Melissa Sullivan, executive director of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association.

“This is up to the locale to determine what restrictions they want to put on that,” she said.

Burial on private property is more common “when people have larger farms in rural areas,” Sullivan said.

“But when it comes to metropolitan areas or areas where there might be a little more restrictions, certainly an individual would want to clear that with the proper authorities,” she added. “And it sounds like this family has done just that.”

After Don Wright died, his wife asked Centerville for permission to erect the mausoleum, city records show.

City staff “determined that city council has the statutory authority to regulate the burial of human remains on private property,” a memo from Centerville Community Development Director Michael Norton-Smith states.

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