Scattering Rose Garden at Fallbrook Masonic Cemetery provides new option


Last updated 7/1/2019 at 12:45pm

Lucette Moramarco photo

The rose garden at the north end of Fallbrook Masonic Cemetery, for the scattering of ashes, is dedicated to Daniel and Virginia Sanchez.

The manager of Fallbrook's only cemetery with remaining plots said its new Rose Garden scattering area is becoming an attractive option for families opting for cremation of a loved one.

"I enjoy helping families and seeing all their needs are met," Kathy McGoldrick, manager for the last 18 months of Fallbrook Masonic Cemetery, said.

It is nearing its 100th anniversary. A new feature at the cemetery is their Rose Garden scattering area, located on a hillside with grass and a giant pine tree in the center and four cement benches. And of course, they have rose bushes. Instead of headstones, an individual's name can be engraved on the back of the bench.

She described the Rose Garden as a peaceful, beautiful and quiet area with a nice breeze. An additional plus is that can help with keeping cemetery expenses to a minimum.

After all, it can be expensive to die. With the separate mortuary cost and a full casket burial in Fallbrook Masonic Cemetery, she said the price tag could easily total $15,000. However, McGoldrick said that she knew for many families, it's an expense that may be difficult to handle. She said she likes to help people with end-of-life decisions – including cost-saving options.

Both mortuaries and cemeteries have pre-purchase plans that make it easier during that difficult period when a family has to make difficult choices. The ad for the cemetery in the Village News doesn't mention pre-need purchases, but it's becoming more common occurrence for local families.

"I'm not a salesperson, but my personal experience is that people randomly come to me about their death arrangements. They are brave enough to talk about it, so their children don't have to worry about it," McGoldrick said. "When they come in, I show them the cemetery, the different areas. We have a large book of maps and pinpoint a plot, dual plot or family plot. They get an invoice and deed – a certificate of purchase. Some prepay and others go with 12 monthly payments without finance charges."

McGoldrick said there are many options, including full-body burial and cremation, for people to consider as well as costs for formal gravesite services and an open or closed casket.

She said that nationally, about 65% of people choose cremation and that percentage is about the same here. She also mentioned that more than half of the people elect to take the ashes of their loved one home in a container, rather than interment.

"I feel I'm helping give people an ease of mind, so when they need our services, decisions are already made and it's taken care of," she said.

The cemetery is separate from the mortuary. While Fallbrook Masonic Cemetery is the only local cemetery with plots available, Berry Bell & Hall is the only mortuary in Fallbrook.

The Rose Garden is dedicated to Daniel "Danny" Sanchez and his wife Virginia. Sanchez is a longtime member of Fallbrook Masonic Lodge 317 and worked at the cemetery.

"When Virginia died two years ago, Danny spoke to my husband John to ask what could be done to memorialize her," she said.

The garden was built over a two-year period and, in May 2018, Virginia's ashes were scattered at the new site.

McGoldrick has been manager for a year and a half. Her involvement started with husband John McGoldrick, a Mason, being on the board of directors. Kathy McGoldrick said her husband noticed the grass was dying, and the property seemed to be poorly managed. After giving that update to the board, the members suggested he become manager. He assumed that role in September 2016 and changes for the positive occurred, but after a year and a half, he was offered a job in another profession that she said he couldn't refuse.

"I had helped during that time," Kathy McGoldrick said. "Mostly with cataloging the plots, and was offered the position of manager."

There is new grass on half the property, and 10 new trees are on order. Other improvements are also planned.

The cemetery has 7,000 interments, with eight of its 10 acres developed. McGoldrick said there is enough property for another 5,000 burials.

Helping grieving families is part of the job, but that part of the job is less intense than she expected, she said, and described her demeanor as being more patient and understanding.

"By the time they work with the mortuary and come here for the burial, many are over their serious grieving, especially when it's an elderly person who dies. Often, the family is prepared," McGoldrick said. "They are more distraught when it's not expected or, even more difficult, when it's a child."

The sign over Fallbrook Masonic Cemetery lists it as having opened in 1921. McGoldrick said the cemetery's first major event was a Memorial Day service in 1922. The cemetery has veterans buried from World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

She said the most famous person buried there is Edwin "Duke" Snider, who passed Feb. 27, 2011. The longtime Fallbrook resident is best known as a Hall of Fame baseball player for the Dodgers, but he was also a World War II veteran.

Fallbrook Masonic Cemetery is located at 1177 Santa Margarita Road. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with visiting hours seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, call (760) 980-0013 or find them on Facebook.


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