Family devastated after baby’s gifted memorial bench removed; Bible verse offensive?

A park bench, dedicated to the short life of a toddler, was summarily removed by a North Carolina city — allegedly because it had two crosses and a Bible verse engraved on it.

After Heather Roten’s 16-month son Mason was killed in September in a hit-and-run accident, Elkin High School alumni decided to have a memorial bench made in his memory and placed in the park where he used to play.

Local station MyFox8 reported:

Ben Crosswhite, an Elkin High alum and family friend, says he got permission from the town’s parks and recreation director, Adam McComb.

When the bench was removed on Monday, Crosswhite says he was told that it was because the bench had a bible verse and two crosses engraved on it.


“One day we come down here with this beautiful bench and tears of joy and now it’s being taken away as if we haven’t been through enough already,” Roten said.

“I just could not believe that they would take something away from my precious little baby like that.”

“We were just overwhelmed that somebody would memorialize our little baby,” said Chris Leupold, Mason’s grandfather. “Then to have something like this happen, it’s just devastating.”

Elkin Town Manager John Holcomb disputes Crosswhite’s claim that he’d received permission from the parks and recreation director, and issued a statement reading:

In Elkin we have an approval process for any bench to be added to our municipal park that is for a public memorial. This bench was added last Saturday without prior knowledge or approval.


Crosswhite reiterates that he did get prior approval.

“They’re pretty much calling us liars, that they didn’t get permission which they did,” Roten said. “That bench should be there in his honor.”

Holcomb also drew attention to the religious references on the bench.

The bench does have religious  symbols and scripture in its design which no other bench in our park currently has. It is a beautiful bench and we are currently working to find another more suitable location for the bench which is in memory of a young child.


He said the issue will be addressed at the next Elkin Town Board meeting Monday evening.

Watch this news clip, via MyFox8.


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