Remaining a Die-Hard ’09er Through Eternity

by | July 10, 2017 | '09 Home


It’s no secret that 78209 is a great place to live. With its charming, welcoming neighborliness coupled with myriad, exceptional amenities, why would anyone want to be anywhere else? Yep, having a permanent residence in the ‘hood is definitely pretty wonderful!

The new columbarium garden at Alamo Heights Presbyterian Church on Broadway.


But what happens when death comes knocking on the long-term ‘09er’s door? Will those afflicted be forced to leave their cherished community at this inevitable, unavoidable point? In other words, just what’s a body to do if he or she has that “passing” fancy to simply remain here, at or near home, even in the hereafter?

Well, fortunately for those so deeply rooted, accommodations can be made. While you can’t bury Uncle Joe or Cousin Betty in that Heights or Hills backyard (city and county ordinances prevent this), after a professional cremation, the resulting ashes can be legally retained at a private residence. Note, however, that the Catholic Church has issued a recent ban on home storage, which dictates that final placement be in a church-approved, sacred location. Protestant denominations don’t have this constraint, so a spot on the mantel in a suitable container, if desired, is just fine for many. Also be aware that if the deceased has requested that his or her ashes not be kept but rather spread at a specified location (for example, across the AHHS football field), please check first with the appropriate City Hall because there may be restrictions.

Regarding a more traditional, casketed burial for those who wish to maintain an ’09 address, the options are extremely limited. The only availability is within the very distinctive and much lauded National Cemetery at Fort Sam Houston, but having a non-dishonorably discharged veteran status is mandatory before acceptance. If that is met, the ex-serviceman or woman is welcomed, along with certain immediate family members. Beyond that, with the exception of the private cemetery on the University of the Incarnate Word grounds, which is reserved exclusively for the order’s sisters, there are no other conventional cemeteries in the ZIP.

So, if you truly want to stay but aren’t a vet and don’t like the idea of being on display in some jar in the house, what’s left? Well, fortunately, there are a number of sanctioned, very convenient (often consecrated) area-based facilities where a beloved one’s cremated remains are invited to respectfully, sacredly and permanently reside, forever if desired, in 78209.

Recognizing the obvious need for the provision of high-quality, neighborhood-centered repositories, multiple area religious institutions and/or churches (see the following list) have constructed on-site columbariums. A columbarium is a specific edifice tastefully designed and built for the permanent placement of cremated ashes (called cremains, really!) Each of these has been created to pay homage to the deceased while also considering the needs of the entire affected family. Generally, they consist of a number (sometimes only a few, sometimes more than 1,000) of small, individual sealed niches that can house one or two urns (for a married couple, for example) with names and dates inscribed on the exterior sealed face. Proximity seating is often provided for the bereaved to remember and contemplate the loved one. Some columbariums are in a relaxing outdoor setting. Others are comfortably ensconced inside a shelter. To participate, a one-time, modest cost (that often covers the actual cremation) is generally assessed. Also, there are various rules to maintain a consistency of appearance throughout the columbarium that deal with what floral decorations can be displayed and the inscription typefaces used or that pertain to other issues that may affect the overall look. Each institution has its own stipulations.

Of greater importance, during these times of need, many of these providers will gladly assist with all of the arrangements, including the actual cremation. And be aware that at most of the offering churches inclusion is restricted to members of the congregation and their family members. However, there is at least one that is open to all in need.

So, in death as in life, staying a part of 78209 is an option if you have that “passing” fancy. Really, why would anyone want to be anywhere else – at any time?

78209 Available Spaces:

Alamo Heights
Presbyterian Church
– open to any in need
(210) 824-0271
6201 Broadway

Alamo Heights
United Methodist Church
– restricted to congregation only
(210) 826-2412
825 East Basse Road

Christ Lutheran Church
– restricted to congregation only
(210) 822-3394
6720 Broadway

The Episcopal Diocese
of West Texas
(210) 824-5387
111 Torcido Drive

National Cemetary
at Fort Sam Houston
– restrictions
(210) 820-3891
1520 Harry Wurzbach Road

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
– restricted to congregation only
(210) 828-6425
11 St. Luke’s Lane

By Ernie Altgelt

Read the latest edition of 78209 Magazine!

Cover 78209Magazine July2022 copy
Cover 78209Magazine July2022 copy

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