San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 1st, 2011
City invites public to dedication ceremony at cemetery

SUBMITTED REPORT

The public is invited to a dedication ceremony focusing on improvements to the historic San Marcos City Cemetery’s fence and gates, the Serenity Garden project funded and completed by the Leadership San Marcos Class of 2011, and a plaque that pays tribute to the late Helen Wier Van Gundy’s cemetery beautification efforts.

The ceremony will be at the cemetery (at 1001 Old Ranch Road 12) on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 10 a.m.

The program is jointly sponsored by the San Marcos Cemetery Commission, Leadership San Marcos and the Friends of the San Marcos Cemetery. The dedication will focus on improvements to the cemetery’s fence and gates, the Serenity Garden project funded and completed by the Leadership San Marcos Class of 2011 and a plaque that pays tribute to the late Helen Wier Van Gundy’s Cemetery beautification efforts. Friends of the San Marcos Cemetery commissioned the plaque and provided funding to plant additional crepe myrtle trees in honor of Mrs. Van Gundy.

Leadership San Marcos’ Serenity Garden offers a place at the cemetery where the loved ones of those who have chosen cremation over traditional burial can scatter their ashes and, if they choose, place a marker in their memory. The garden, enclosed by a six-foot fence, features a pathway, crepe myrtles and will eventually have four benches.

The Leadership class’s outreach for community support resulted in close to 100 in-kind and cash contributions, which made the project possible. Leadership Class Officers include Bonnie Hughson, Chair; Mitsi Benton, Vice Chair; Denise Collazo, President; and Jeff Caldwell, Serenity Garden Project Director.

City improvements to be celebrated in the dedication include more than 500 feet of wrought iron fencing installed since 2004, majestic gates and columns. In 2004, a plaque was placed at the gates giving a brief overview on the cemetery history. In 2008, the Woodlawn addition was opened, new roads were installed and the water system improved.

In addition to Chair Robert Cotner, a longtime cemetery advocate, the San Marcos Cemetery Commission is composed of Vice Chair Lee Mitchell, Patty Sullivan, Martha Jackson, Mary Williams, Jacque Allbright and Leah Molina.

The commission and the city cemetery are under facility management of Parks and Recreation, a division of the city’s Community Services department, administered by Rodney Cobb. Assistant Director of Community Services is William Ford. Gene Bagwell of Maintenance Management provides upkeep of the cemetery.

“The improvements to the cemetery could not have happened without the support of Parks and Recreation,” Cotner said.

The San Marcos City Cemetery, founded in 1876, is located on 45 acres at 1001 Old Ranch Road 12 in San Marcos. The cemetery is the burial ground for many Texas pioneers and Veterans of Wars dating back to the War of 1812. The land where the current cemetery is located was purchased by the City of San Marcos Cemetery Association from Judy and Shadrack Dixon for $300 in silver coins.

The original San Marcos Cemetery was located on Hutchison Street where the old San Marcos Library building still stands. The first burial there was in 1846. It would become the official “City Cemetery” when William Lindsay donated the land for that purpose.

Over the next 30 years, the community’s growth would push the need for a larger site. After the current cemetery land was purchased, many families had the remains and headstones of their loved ones moved to the new location. Additional land purchases would bring the total area to almost 45 acres.

The Friends of the Cemetery is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the cemetery and to promoting its historical significance. Contributions to the Friends organization are tax deductible and monies go to projects such as removing ball moss from the oak trees, planting trees and other improvements to the cemetery.

The Friends group recently contributed $1,500 to the cemetery Commission to plant additional crepe myrtles and commissioned the plaque recognizing Helen Van Gundy for her love of crepe myrtles and her dedication to cemetery beautification.

Friends’ Officers include Pat Murdock, President; Nancy Scott, Vice President; Jane Hughson, Secretary; and Rose Ayers, Treasurer.

In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will move from the main entrance of the cemetery to the historic chapel within the cemetery.

For more information on the joint dedication, call the City of San Marcos at 393-8400 or Pat Murdock at 353-1943.

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