The San Marcos City Cemetery is providing new options for residents to remember their loved ones.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held last month to celebrate the construction of a serenity garden on the east side of the entrance to the cemetery. The garden will provide a place for community members to gather and honor deceased loved ones, and scatter ashes.
Bill Pennington, director of Pennington Funeral Home, said there has been a need for a place to scatter ashes in San Marcos for some time.
“We felt there was a need for an alternative other than burial,” said Robert Cotner, Cemetery Commission chair. “The trend is going more towards cremation and not always does the family want to put remains in an urn or a crypt.”
Cotner said relatives of the deceased will have the option to purchase placement of their loved one’s name, birthday and date of death on a plaque in the garden. Pennington said recording significant dates is important for helping future generations studying genealogy to learn about their history. Often when ashes are scattered over parkland or waterways, dates and names are not recorded, Pennington said.
The serenity garden was presented to the Cemetery Commission as part of the Leadership San Marcos organization’s 2011 class project. The nonprofit organization informs area residents of important historic, economic, government, business and social service issues while preparing future leaders.
Jeff Caldwell, local business owner and Leadership San Marcos class member, said the class toured the cemetery during the heritage session and learned about historical figures buried there. Caldwell said he and other class members felt the serenity garden would positively impact the area while providing a way for the cemetery to maintain utilization. The location for the garden was chosen because of thick limestone in the section of the cemetery nearest Ranch Road 12, which made for difficulty in digging graves.
“We’re going to beautify an area at the San Marcos Cemetery and utilize a piece of land that’s hard to cultivate,” said Alex Villalobos, University Police Department investigator and Leadership San Marcos class member. “This will be something that will be able to service a myriad of different types of people. (It is) not just for the scattering of ashes, but also as a reflection area.”
Class members developed a plan for crushed granite pathways, wrought-iron fencing and shrubbery to line approximately 16-by-100 square feet and create a peaceful environment.
Lorenzo Garcia, aspiring Eagle Scout and San Marcos High School student, was largely involved in the creation of the project. Garcia said to fulfill scouting requirements, he needed to create, plan and raise funds for a project showing his dedication to the community. Garcia originally planned to enhance the gravesite of W.E. Merrem, the first Eagle Scout west of the Mississippi, but his idea turned into a memorial garden because it could provide greater service.
Garcia needed additional funding and support to make the idea a reality, and his mother told him about the Leadership San Marcos project. Garcia and Leadership San Marcos class members are collaborating on the creation of the serenity garden.
“Funding (for my project) was hard to find over the summer,” Garcia said. “When I found out Leadership San Marcos was doing a similar project we decided to collaborate because my project had stalled.”
Garcia and Leadership San Marcos are working together to raise funds through community members and presentations at organizations. Caldwell said they are looking to San Marcos residents and asking for volunteers interested in providing labor to help move the project along.