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San Diego
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Bonita and San Diego Cemeteries Expanding

DEVELOPMENT: Construction Part of $14M Project

Two San Diego County cemeteries – Glen Abbey Memorial Park in Bonita and El Camino Memorial Park in Sorrento Valley – are undergoing a $14 million expansion.

Ryan Samarripas
San Diego Market Director
Dignity Memorial.

“We’re really looking for the needs of the community,” said Ryan Samarripas, San Diego market director of Dignity Memorial.

Dignity Memorial is a brand of Houston-based Service Corporation International, which owns Glen Abbey and Camino Memorial.

“Times have changed from kind of our more traditional settings, so we’re kind of looking at doing things that families want,” Samarripas said. “Historically, cemeteries can be very gloomy and glum. We’re really trying to look at it as a place for people to gather, for people to have that permanent space, knowing where your loved ones are.”

The expansion will include the addition of a Bell Terrace Cremation Garden at El Camino Memorial, which will include family columbariums, more than 400 cremation niches and a new mausoleum  that will have a room for glass and stone-front niches for cremains and more than 2,500 casket spaces.

Glen Abbey Memorial Park will add a rosary garden with companion and individual monuments, a new water feature, a mausoleum and a chapel

The rosary garden at Glen Abbey “will literally have the rosary built into it,” Samarripas said, with a granite cross embedded in the ground at one end and granite niches forming the rosary beads, leading to a statue of Mary on a granite pedestal.

Designed by Clark and Green and Associates based in Orange County, the new two-story mausoleum at Glen Abbey will be built on a hilltop and include an outdoor deck on the second level.

“It will be enclosed, but there will be the ability to go out on the terrace or deck. That will have an ocean view,” Samarripas said. “It is a beautiful site. You’ll be able to see downtown San Diego and the Coronado Bridge.”

Celebrating Life

According to Dignity Memorial, about 68% of families in California opt for cremation, but don’t know of the options available for taking care of the cremains.

“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, I have to take them home, I have to have them scattered,’” Samarripas said. “It’s just one of those things people aren’t aware of.”
The additions to Glen Abbey and Camino Memorial are meant to offer more choices, he said.

Glass fronts on some of the new niches will allow families to personalize them by including photographs or objects that help tell a story about the people whose cremains are placed there.

“It kind of shows a little bit of the personality of who they were, how they liked to celebrate, what their life was all about. It’s to give families options that they didn’t think were possible,” Samarripas said. “It provides more meaning, it gives more context to the person.”

The design fits in with changes in funeral ceremonies. “Families are leaning more toward a celebration of life, more contemporary as opposed to traditional,” Samarripas said. “They’re talking more about how they lived their lives.”

Opened in 1924, Glen Abbey has about 52,000 people interred on the site.

The 211-acre El Camino Memorial Park, opened in 1960, and has about 40,000 people interred.

Combined, an estimated 100,000 people visit the two cemeteries annually, according to the Dignity Memorial.

Service Corporation International

Founded: 1962
Headquarters: Houston
CEO: Thomas Ryan
Business: Funeral and cemetery services
Employees: 25,000
Contact: 713-522-5141
Notable: Service Corp. International operates more than 1,500 funeral homes and 400 cemeteries


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