gladiolus BY RANDY ECONOMY/Los Cerritos Community News:  For Evelyn Hileman of Bellflower, the Sept. 13 death of her father, Michael Henry Gregory, after a short bout with cancer was a shock that only became more shocking at his Sept. 20 memorial when the mortuary and cemetery harangued her about an outstanding bill during the ceremony, eventually causing her to miss part of the service.

Gregory had purchased a “Pre-Planned Funeral Package” through Luyben Family-Dilday-Mottel Mortuary, which has offices located in the city of Long Beach.

But when Hileman arrived for the memorial service a bit before 11 a.m. on Sept. 20, she said she was greeted by a funeral director who informed her that “the cemetery says you have an unpaid bill and we need $1,250 before we can conduct the burial.”

“I tell her no problem and I go sit down in the front row,” Hileman said.

However, Hileman said that after the pastor began conducting the service the employee walked up to her and handed her a bright yellow note that read: “Per: Forest Lawn. Fees need to be paid before service.”

Hileman said she was “stunned” by the note.

“I had paid them more than $10,000 the day before, and I was not told about a remaining outstanding balance of $1,250,” she said.

Hileman said that she informed the employee that the credit card was at home.  “The employee literally stood there in front of me until I told her that I will go home and get the credit card.”

Hileman said her husband left the service and went home to retrieve the credit card, but when he returned with it funeral staff members would not process the card because the it was in Gregory’s name, even though she contends that she was a co-signer on the account.

“The day before, they gladly accepted the card and our money, and charged me $10,000 but the next day they didn’t accept the same card,” she said.

While all of this was taking place, Hileman said that the pastor had concluded his graveside service and a Military Honor Guard had unfolded the American flag and had refolded it, and that 20 white doves had been released and the service was over.