Memory Gardens raises funds

By Beth Foley

Staff Writer

As funeral costs continue to rise, more people are choosing cremation rather than traditional burials.

In an attempt to offer more options to grieving families, the Memory Gardens Cemetery is raising funds to add a granite columbarium to hold up to 72 niches for urns with loved ones’ ashes.

A columbarium is similar to a mausoleum, but is smaller and designed to hold urns with cremated remains above ground. Each niche can hold two urns and would be sealed, with an engraved plaque with the interred person’s name and dates.

The cemetery already has raised $38,000 for the columbarium itself through two grants from local organizations and individual donations. Now it needs an estimated $7,000 to $7,500 to pay for the 24-foot square concrete slab that will support the columbarium, said cemetery president Jo Ann Blanar.

Jeff Woodring of Edna is acting as a consultant and has volunteered to oversee the construction of the cement slab, Blanar said.

“We’ve had several people calling,” Blanar said. “We did have calls wanting to know if we had this columbarium
in our cemetery because there are so many people that are, instead of burials, they are cremating.”

During one particular funeral, she said, a funeral director who had brought a body for burial from the New Braunfels area said that his company is seeing as much as 60 percent cremations now.

“We had talked to some other funeral directors and they said oh yes, the cremations are the way to go now because, one thing, for land, they’re running out of spaces, and the cost, the rising cost of funerals," Blanar said. “So we just thought we would try to keep up with the other cemeteries around. Locally, none of them have columbariums. They do in Victoria and some of the other cemeteries do. We just thought it would keep up with growing demand, we’re just trying to keep up with times.

The cemetery is a nonprofit 501-C3 and depends on grants and donations.

It was originally named Prairie White Cemetery, since it was located on a prairie, and later renamed Memory Gardens of Edna, Inc., in 1954. Its oldest recorded grave dates to 1855, a two-year-old girl born into one of the county’s pioneering families, and it also has a special gray marker for Lucy Dever Flournoy, considered the “Mother of Edna,” whose grave was never officially marked.

Approximately 6,100 people are buried at Memory Gardens, including approximately 900 veterans, such as some from the Spanish-American War, the Civil War, and World War II. It hosts the remains of several law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, including Texas DPS Trooper Bill Da- vidson, killed in 1992; Sheriff Huey White, killed in 1941; Sheriff George Wharton, 1903; and sheriff’s deputies Frank Milby and Frank Brugh, also killed in 1903.

In addition, graves from the Texana Cemetery were moved to Memory Gardens when Lake Texana was built in the early 1970s.

The cemetery received a state historical marker in 2017.

“The people of Jackson County have been very generous when it comes to our cemetery,” Blanar said. “When we ask for donations they’ve been very generous.”

The cemetery made its down payment on the columbarium in December and the company building it began work at that time, she said. It is expected to be completed and ready for installation later this spring.

When completed and installed, the columbarium will stand about seven feet tall and weigh approximately 10,000 pounds, she said, which is why it needs the sturdy concrete base to prevent it from sinking into the ground.

Anyone wishing to donate can contact the cemetery office at 361-782-2931. The office is located at 1300 N. Kleas St. in Edna and is open by appointment only. Their mailing address is Memory Gardens, P.O. Box 396, Edna, Texas 77957.

Jackson County Herald Tribune

306 N. Wells
Edna, TX 77957