Widow of Ronnie Van Zant says his final resting place has been moved

Ronnie Van Zant (Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The widow of Ronnie Van Zant, the late lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd, has confirmed to News4JAX that his final resting place has been moved to a new location in the same cemetery.

Originally, he was buried at Jacksonville Memory Gardens in Orange Park, but due to vandalism, was moved from there to Riverside Memorial Park on Normandy Boulevard. He has now been laid to rest in a different family plot.

I spoke with Judy Van Zant by phone on Friday, and she gave me the following explanation why she and her daughter, Melody, made this decision.

Judy Van Zant (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

“In 1977, emotions were high and decisions had to be made quickly, so we laid Ronnie to rest in Orange Park,” she said. “A few years later, some crazies broke into his crypt and tried to steal his body. Again, emotions were high and decisions had to be made quickly.”

“He was moved to Riverside Memorial Cemetery and was buried. Melody and I were never happy with this spot,” Judy Van Zant continued. “After a great deal of time and thought we decided on a quiet, peaceful spot under a big oak tree overlooking a small lake.”

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Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd (Getty Images)

“He has been moved, and we hope that completion of the new site will be early spring,” she said. “A simple memorial for a simple man.”

Ronnie Van Zant, Steve and Cassie Gaines and road manager Dean Kilpatrick of Lynyrd Skynyrd and their pilot and co-pilot were killed when their chartered plane crashed in a Mississippi swamp in October 1977.

About the Author:

Tom Wills joined Channel 4 in 1975 and has co-anchored Jacksonville's highest-rated evening newscasts for more than 40 years.