Planning to visit Grand View Memorial Park on Memorial Day weekend?
Hours will be the same as regular visitation dates: 12 noon to 4pm each day, with gates closing to incoming traffic at 3:45pm.
Grand View Memorial Park has been closed for regular business since June 13, 2006. A class action suit was settled in early 2010. Improvements to the property were made in early 2011 and the cemetery is currently for sale.
Until it is sold, it will be OPEN to the public EVERY SUNDAY from 12-4pm, staffed by volunteers. If you would like to become a volunteer, contact David Baum at (310) 914-0188.
This is an independent website that works in cooperation with but does not formally represent Grand View Memorial Park, Inc., law firms representing plaintiffs or defendants in any related cases, and/or all state and city government entities involved with the cemetery case to-date.
It was created by and continues to be written & maintained by Lisa Burks who began covering this story for Valley News in 2006.
Planning to visit Grand View Memorial Park on Memorial Day weekend?
Hours will be the same as regular visitation dates: 12 noon to 4pm each day, with gates closing to incoming traffic at 3:45pm.
In January family and friends of Velia "Val" James gathered at Grand View Memorial Park from near and far during the cemetery's once a week visitation afternoon to mark what would have been her 69th birthday.
Instead of simply leaving traditional floral tributes, 31 of Mrs. James' loved ones chose to honor her by spending the afternoon cleaning up the entire Garden of Memory, where her cremated remains were interred during a burial service 12 years ago.
Mrs. James' daughter, Felicia James-Ceberio, traveled with her husband Julio from their home in Las Vegas. Her only grandchildren, Monique and JC, flew in from Northern California. Felicia's in-laws, Eddy & Caridad Ceberio flew in from Miami, Florida. "The rest of the group are great friends that joined us from all over Southern California," Felica told me.
While cemetery representatives pursue a sale of Grand View under terms reached in 2007 with the state's Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, the public continues to have limited access to loved ones buried there. The gates are opened by volunteers each Sunday between 12-4 p.m.
Many families have told me that, like it or not, they work around the weekly schedule, marking special dates on the nearest possible Sunday to spend time at grave sites remembering occassions that hold deep personal meaning.
For the James-Ceberio family, the Sunday schedule worked out well this year. "The day was particularly special, because it was January 15, my Mom's birthday," Felicia said.
Felicia explained that she had not been to visit her mother's resting place for a few years and found out about Grand View's closure and legal problems when she looked up directions to the cemetery online. When she arrived in person, she was not happy with what she encountered.
"Needless to say I was heartbroken when I saw the condition of the park. When I was unable to locate her [grave marker] due to the roots I vowed to return and clean-up her final resting place. I called a few friends, my kids and in-laws and everyone said they wanted to help," she said.
The Garden of Memory is a circular portion of Section B, one of Grand View's oldest sections that dates back to 1891. The garden was developed separately in 1949 and has approximately 450 burial spaces, most of which are marked with small, uniform granite memorials. It features a vintage sundial at its center. Part of the walkway around the garden is damaged from the roots of an old shade tree that was removed in 2011.
To paraphrase a popular saying, sometimes it takes a village to accomplish big goals. Felicia found that she had just that kind of support for her idea.
"The owner of my company, Lincoln Spoor and his wife Sarah, as well as our director of finance, Jen Morse, donated money so that we could purchase gardening equipment and supplies. In addition, our company, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, donated doughnuts for all of the volunteers," she said.
"It was a great day and I know that my mom is proud of what we accomplished in her memory. It was hard work. However, we made such a difference. The before and after pictures speak volumes," Felicia added.
See Felicia's entire collection of photographs from Mrs. James' Birthday Clean Up here.
Do you have a visitation story you'd like to share with readers? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details.
Volunteer-facilitated Sunday visitation days at Grand View Memorial Park continued on April 8 for the 45th consecutive week since ground renovations were completed there last year.
Family and friends of loved ones buried there, including local residents and some vacationing out-of-towners, took advantage of the warm spring day to commemorate Easter Sunday by bringing holiday flowers and other grave site decorations.
While most people were able to be at the cemetery during the four hour window of public visitation, others were left on the outside of the gates looking in, due to travel schedule conflicts.
Diana Meinhold from Santa Ana had hoped to arrange for her parents, aged 85 and 87, to visit relatives' graves while they were on what was likely to be their final trip to California from Ohio.
Unfortunately, they were unaware of the restricted visitations until after their trip was already booked. Their flight arrived too late to make it last Sunday and they were already on their way back home when the gates opened on Easter. Private off-hours visitations have not been permitted since Grand View closed for regular business in 2006.
As an alternative solution, last Sunday Volunteer Kathy S. located, cleaned and photographed the relatives' grave markers and provided digital images to Diana who was able to show them online to her parents who do not have a computer at home.
"This made my parents so happy! Since I know my parents will never be able to make another trip to California in their lives, having these photos for them to see each Memorial Day will be so meaningful," Diana wrote via email.
Status of Cemetery Sale
Exactly when Grand View will return to full operation remains unclear. Cemetery representatives continue to negotiate with potential buyers but say that further details are confidential. They are required to sell the cemetery to a state-approved, licensed cemetery operator under settlement terms made with the California Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau (CFB) in October 2007.
In the meantime, the limited visitation hours on Sunday have been extended until the end of May, with those dates subject to change without notice.
Stop The Rumors
On a side note, some visitors have told me that they've been approached by cemetery neighbors who say that once Grand View is sold it will be turned into a park, condos, etc. These rumors are false, according to everyone I've spoken to who is in-the-know. Not only are they false, they hurt and worry people with loved ones buried at Grand View and they've already been through quite enough. Grand View will remain a cemetery. If you hear of anyone spreading this gossip, please send them here to be straightened out.
Court Updates - Restoration Fund, Claimant Checks and Cemetery Protocol
The class action lawsuit filed against Grand View in 2007 was settled in late 2009. As part of the settlement, $500,000 was provided for restoration projects at the cemetery. The four primary projects identified were restoration of cemetery records, identification and appropriate storage of previously unidentified and improperly stored cremated remains, installation of a modernized watering system and rehabiliation of the grounds and landscaping.
According to documents filed in January with the Los Angeles Superior Court by plaintiff counsel and designated restoration manager Paul Ayers, work began in May 2010 and was completed in November 2011. All four projects were completed and remaining funds were used to also organize the cemetery records and to repair a hole in the roof of the West Mausoleum, exhausting the full $500,000 plus $1,690.68 accumulated interest income.
An accounting of the funds expenditure, Exhibit A, was included with the brief. Read it here. (PDF file)
Also in January, Judge Anthony J. Mohr, who has been presiding over the Grand View situation, requested a report on what, if anything, is left undone prior to closing the case completely. In February, Ayers filed a report that cited two matters:
1. Residual Monies In Class Claimant Fund: Approximately 30 class claimant checks were never cashed ("reasons unknown") and they have since expired, leaving approximately $44,044.12 in the claimant fund. Per order of the court, after reimbursing $5,941.25 to the claims administrators Desmond Marcello & Amster for additional expenses incurred by this development, the balance of the funds were deposited to Grand View's endowment care fund.
2. Orders Establishing Protocols For Cemetery Procedures: Burials of decedants who had already purchased pre-need burial rights/property at Grand View before it lost its Certificate of Authority have been conducted at the cemetery through a court order process. Court orders have also been required for disinterments, marker placements and marker alterations.
The court approved an order in March 2008 establishing these protocols as the only legal means to accomplish this work, as well as a way to preserve evidence at the cemetery while there were open lawsuits. Since the class action and all individual cases have been settled or dismissed, preservation is no longer an issue.
As such, Ayers reported that he has been having ongoing discussions with the CFB about state-issued permission rather than going through the court, and that the CFB is willing to implement a new method but that would not be finalized for 30-60 days.
Until then, the court order process remains in effect.
Santa Ana winds ripped through Southern California on Wednesday night, gusting upwards of 60 mph or more in some parts of the San Fernando Valley and causing thousands of dollars worth of damage throughout Glendale.
While officials report that about 110 trees were uprooted around the city, I can thankfully report that none of those trees were at Grand View Memorial Park.
However, Grand View trees, which were all trimmed earlier this year during the restoration process, did suffer hundreds of broken branches and large limbs. Overall, the cemetery weathered the storm quite well compared to other parts of the city and neighboring communities.
Volunteers were on scene Thursday and Friday to start the clean up process which also included picking up signs, potted plants and other debris scattered around the property by the fierce winds. Miraculously, no markers were negatively affected by the wind or debris! :)
Limb and branch clean up is about half done but that will not affect this week's Sunday visitation, Dec. 4 from 12 noon - 4 p.m. Gates WILL be open!
A crew of four volunteers (myself included) worked several hours on Friday, picking up branches by hand, loading them on a volunteer truck and moving them next to the garage. The pile measures about 4 feet high and a couple dozen feet wide.
Volunteers are urgently needed on Sunday to collect the remaining branches so that mowing can continue. Last week volunteers mowed three and half sections, and the rest needs to be cut next week to keep the lawn managable.
Volunteers will gather at 10 a.m. on Sunday, two hours prior to opening, to continue the clean up and will work throughout the afternoon as needed.
I recommend bringing work gloves and wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts to avoid scratching your arms and legs. Trucks to haul branches would be appreciated and very helpful. Wood-chippers are welcome, too. Please and thank you!
For more information, contact cemetery representative David Baum at (310) 990-3660 or via email at email@example.com.
Visitors to Grand View Memorial Park ask a lot of questions each week. Here's a few that I can report answers on at this time:
Will Grand View be open during the holidays?
Grand View Volunteers are prepared to continue opening the gates every Sunday for visitations until the cemetery is sold, and that includes Christmas Day on Sunday, December 25 and New Year's Day on Sunday, January 1.
If you'd like to visit for Thanksgiving (observed Thursday, November 24) or Armenian Christmas (observed Friday, January 6) please plan to do so on the Sunday before or after those holidays.
Visitation hours each Sunday are from 12 noon until 4:00 p.m. Gates are closed and visitors inside the park are given a 15 minute courtesy alert at 3:45 p.m. in order to meet the 4:00 p.m. closing. Please plan your arrival and departure times accordingly.
When will Grand View be sold and resume normal operations?
The million dollar question! According to cemetery representative, attorney David Baum, "Grand View is in discussions with potential buyers and will provide updates in the coming weeks regarding the sale of the cemetery and restoration of full time visitations and regular business operations. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have volunteered to make the current openings possible."
Stay tuned to this blog for developments.
A loved one has passed away, can they be buried at Grand View these days?
Yes, but only if you already purchased burial rights to a plot here.
According to David Baum, "Grand View is entering its fifth year of restricted operations. While still prohibited from selling new burial sites, Grand View will continue to honor existing contracts. Burial services are now being performed pursuant to court order. This procedure will continue until a new owner takes over operation of the cemetery."
If you have a question about burial rights, contact authorized representatives David Baum (310-990-3660, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Reg Duran (714-473-3323, email@example.com) for more detailed guidance and information.
Why are so many of the flat gravesite markers covered in grass?
The new class action-funded watering system has been in place for five months, which means the grass is growing quite well, and that includes over many flat markers in each section.
Cemetery officials have arranged for a crew to cut the lawns with mowers but keeping markers groomed has obviously been a challenge under current operating conditions. Cemetery representatives tell me that they are working on a solution to this problem, and when that plan is finalized I will report on it here.
In the meantime, visitors and volunteers alike have been bringing their own gardening tools each Sunday to uncover and trim markers manually. Recommended tools include weedwhackers, clippers, hand shovels and scrub brushes. Water for washing markers is available in the blue tubs outside the Administration Office.
Here's a question (?) from the electronic mail bag, regarding individual memorial pages for Grand View burials on Findagrave.com:
"If you are going to give the information of the gravesite, the least you can do is give the dates. For [E.E.Z.], the dates are on the headstone." [Signed] Her granddaughter, [A. S.]
Grandaughter, it sounds like you're wondering why many of the nearly 40,000 memorial pages on Findagrave.com, entered by dedicated volunteers, don't provide complete information, and the least I can do is give you the inside scoop.
The Findagrave project is an on-going team effort that got a jumpstart in 2010 using information from a variety of incomplete sources. As volunteers receive specific information, they spend hours layering it in, memorial by memorial.
Because none of the base sources included birth and death dates, the only current way to add that data is to physically check each and every burial record, or, making a note of it when a marker is cleaned and photographed.
This is an adhoc operation and if a loved one's dates are not available yet, please know it's not because volunteers are asleep at the wheel.
I'd like to volunteer my time helping out at Grand View. What do you need and how do I sign up?
Grand View is currently accepting volunteers to work each Sunday in the office assisting families find grave locations, assisting families care for grave sites, picking up garbage, handing out informational flyers from time to time, trimming markers, fulfilling Findagrave.com requests and other miscellaneous projects.
Please contact David Baum (310-990-3660, firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to become a Grand View Volunteer.
Do you have questions you'd like answered about Grand View Memorial Park? Submit them to me at email@example.com and I'll seek out the answers for you.
Volunteers will be on hand again tomorrow to facilitate the regular Sunday opening at Grand View Memorial Park, August 28th, from 12 noon - 4pm. Gates close to incoming traffic at 3:45pm. Please and thank you for planning your arrival time with this in mind.
Extreme heat is in the forecast. I'm writing this on Saturday afternoon, two miles down the road from the cemetery, and it's currently a scorching 101 F. So if you plan to attend tomorrow, bring lots of drinking water to keep yourself hydrated and be sure to take advantage of the shade trees, avoiding prolonged periods in the direct sun and/or physical exertion.
Also, as a gentle reminder, we love pets as much as anyone but for safety reasons the powers that be tell us that pets are not allowed in the cemetery, even on a leash, and volunteers must enforce that rule. We don't want to see pets left in cars in this heat, so please leave them home in the A/C.
There's lot of information on the internet about heat exhaustion including how to avoid it, its symptoms and treatment. Here one site - MedicineNet - that I found to be educational and helpful.
Stay cool, stay safe and see you tomorrow!
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We discovered these two lovely roses on the gates this morning when we arrived to open for visitation.
There was no note attached so we didn't know who they were meant for. Whoever left them, please know we put them in water and a vase and placed them on the table just inside the office door so everyone who visited today saw their beauty.
Visitation Sundays continue to be busy but not hectic. Lots of regulars make weekly pilgrimages to spend time at the graves of loved ones and leave flowers. We also meet a lot of folks who are coming out for the first time in years, and who tell us that they are pleased at how well the grounds look and that they appreciate all the work that everyone has done. Thank you to all who come in the office to say hello and offer feedback!
One comment we hear often is that folks are noticing that many of the flat grave markers are covered with grass. The good news is that the watering system is working and the grass is green and growing! The bad news is that the grass is growing! The system is constantly being tweaked to address brown spots and to ensure all the grass is getting hydrated, but we don't have enough volunteers to do weekly weedwhacking.
The lawn is being cut once a week with regular hand and riding mowers, however the crew doing the work is not a typical cemetery grounds crew that manicures around each marker. We expect things to change when the cemetery is sold and it resumes regular operations -- we have no new information about when that will happen, but when we do you'll read about it here.
In the meantime, if you plan to visit, bring along gardening gloves and clippers, and be sure to stop in the office for guidance and maps if you have problems locating the marker of your loved one.
Grand View Memorial Park is opened by a staff of volunteers every Sunday until further notice, from 12 noon until 4pm, with gates closing to incoming traffic at 3:45pm.
Over the years Grand View Memorial Park had several flag poles. The first one was installed in 1906. Today there is one left -- a 40' pole in Section M near the North Mausoleum that is inoperable because the rope and pullies are broken.
One of our volunteer projects is to attempt to fly Old Glory again over the cemetery, in time for July 4th would be nice, but we're realistic about running out of time to meet that wish-list date.
However, we will not give up!
We have obtained a huge, gorgeous American flag and can purchase the replacement hardware but need to find a way to get up that flagpole to make the repairs. We're good at a lot of things, but shimmying isn't one of them.
Cost estimates to rent a sissor or bucket lift that could reach the top of the pole are prohibitive, so we're putting out the call to network with Grand View family and friends to see if anyone has connections that can help us.
We're not a 501c3 so we don't have a tax ID for donation write-offs but what we can offer in exchange is publicity on our website (story, photos, video of the work being done) and to make sure local media is aware of any assistance we are offered. We'll also give you a permanent listing on this site as a Friend of Grand View.
If you own a company that rents this type of equipment or know of anyone who does and would like to help us, please contact me, volunteer Lisa Burks, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-972-9950.
UPDATE 6/30/2011- THANK YOU to A.O.Richardson Equipment Rentals in Glendale (who have family buried at Grand View) for answering the call to help lift us up to fix the flagpole! Stay tuned as this story unfolds!
Back in 2006, Paul Ayers generously helped out Grand View Memorial Park volunteers who were working to locate, clean and photograph grave markers by providing large copies of sectional maps of the grounds.
From what I've been able to determine, those maps were created in the late 1990s using older maps, some dating back to 1927. They've been extremely helpful but along the way we've discovered some inaccuracies.
Now, thanks to the hard work of volunteer LaRae (with assistance from Charmaine) we have updated maps, and more of them -- we started with 20 and now have 33!
To say that LaRae has spent several hundred hours in the past year on this project is no exaggeration. She and her team walked each of the sections taking detailed notes and measuring grave sites, then she went to work at the computer to recreate each map (and create new ones where we needed them) with the necessary adjustments.
These maps are used every day we're at Grand View to help visitors locate the grave sites of their loved ones. They're also used by Findagrave.com photo request volunteers. They're an invaluable research and sourcing tool which we make available at the Administration Office to visitors and volunteers alike each Sunday.
And now, we present them online: download the complete set (PDF file) by clicking here.
Findagravers please remember, starting in July we will be going back to normal photo request procedures (no premade packets) so please use these maps to do advance research before you come to the cemetery.
We're extremely proud of our fellow volunteer LaRae's huge accomplishment and grateful for her dedication and skills, as well as Charmaine's work that helped to make this happen. Thank you all very much!
Hey, what are those strange markings spotted on the curbs of Grand View today?
All new Lot & Tier Number Guides! (You know, like normal cemeteries have.)
Volunteers extraordinaire LaRae and Charmaine (with an assist from SVH) worked five full days last week on the project.
They used new and improved sectional maps (created by LaRae, which will be available online here shortly) to pinpoint lot and tier numbers along the cemetery roadside before spray painting the numbers on the curb using stencils.
Anyone who has tried to find a grave without these guides will tell you just how difficult that has been, so we're very excited and grateful to our Curb Team for making this high-priority wish-list item a reality. Thank you ladies!
Today's opening was rather leisurely, with about 50 cars of visitors between 12 noon and 3:45 p.m. (when we close gates to incoming cars to ensure we can close by 4 p.m.) The weather started out June-Gloomy but it soon warmed up close to 70 degrees and the sun even popped out.
With nightly watering and weekly mowing, the lawns are looking wonderful. Many of the sections still have a lot of markers that need hand trimming or weed-whacking. Thank you to volunteers such as brothers Tom and Frank Dowens who have been helping us out with that. They're very fast, I didn't even get a photo of them in action. I'll get them one of these days!