Truckee cemetery adds cremation to services |

Truckee cemetery adds cremation to services

Most people in Truckee call it spring, summer and fall, but people in the cemetery business call it “the burial season.”

“When the snow melts, we have five or six funerals in two weeks,” said Don Colclough, a trustee for the Truckee Cemetery District.

Until now, burial season was also in effect for cremated remains, which the undertaker couldn’t put in the ground until the snow melted at Truckee’s Sierra Mountain Cemetery.

This month the cemetery district opened a new option for those who want to be inurned. The district built 96 double niches, which hold two urns each, in the gazebo on the cemetery’s property.

“This was just in the past few years that public cemeteries were able to bury cremated remains above ground,” said Sharon Arnold, trustee for the Truckee Cemetery District, which oversees Sierra Mountain Cemetery. “Also, this way we could actually hold services in the winter.”

The district installed the niches, which cost approximately $22,000 to build, to conserve space in the cemetery.

Colclough estimated there are currently 80 to 100 grave spaces left in the cemetery, which is open to all residents and property owners in Truckee within Nevada County.

“[The addition of the niches] will keep the cemetery going for more generations,” he said, adding that the district plans to expand the cemetery sometime in 2004.

The niches will also save people money.

Joe Aguera, who operates Tahoe-Truckee Mortuary with his wife, Claire, said the niches will save families roughly $350, compared to an underground burial.

So far, Aguera has sold three double niches, and he said he expects to sell a lot more. For residents, the double niches at eye level on the wall cost $740 and $640 above and below eye level.

Truckee-resident Ed Rocca recently purchased a double niche for himself and his wife, Gail.

“We’re both in our 70s and it’s time to start thinking about that,” he said. “Since we like Truckee so much, we’d like to stick around, even after we’re gone.”

Rocca and his wife are part of a growing national trend slowly leaning toward cremation. In 1985, approximately 15 percent of deaths in the United States resulted in cremation, according to the Cremation Association of North America. Now roughly one in four of all Americans choose cremation.

The number is even greater in California, where 42 percent of the deceased are cremated, according to Cremation Association statistics.

For cemetery trustee Arnold, who sees the cemetery as a place for families to connect, the niches will mean a lot more than cost and space savings – especially during the winter.

“This will give people more closure when they bury their friends and relatives.”

For more information on the gazebo niches at the cemetery, contact Tahoe-Truckee Mortuary at 587-4342.

Sierra Mountain Cemetery facts

— Sierra Mountain Cemetery was built by the Masons and Oddfellows in the late 1800s;

— The first recorded burial was in 1869;

— Many of Truckee’s earliest occupants are buried at Sierra Mountain Cemetery;

— Truckee’s “undesirables” and Catholics were excluded from the cemetery;

— Catholics couldn’t be buried in Truckee until roughly 1870, when the Sanders family, which owned property adjacent to the cemetery, allowed Catholics to be buried on their land;

— Approximately 20 to 25 people are buried each year at Sierra Mountain Cemetery.

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