Fre­mont pet ceme­tery brings back mem­o­ries

Warm Springs ap­pears aban­doned but not ne­glected or for­got­ten

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - AN­I­MAL LIFE Joan Mor­ris

In Septem­ber, I wrote about the small Warm Springs Pet Ceme­tery, tucked into a cor­ner of a park­ing lot off In­ter­state 880 in Fre­mont. A reader had no­ticed the quiet, rather lonely place dur­ing a lunchtime walk and was cu­ri­ous about its ori­gins.

Thanks to read­ers and peo­ple who re­mem­ber bury­ing pets at the ceme­tery, I now have a lit­tle more back­ground on the ceme­tery.

A July 21, 1973, ar­ti­cle in the Argus re­vealed that the orig­i­nal owner was Floyd “Mac” McClure, a 42-year- old dis­abled vet­eran whom the news­pa­per de­scribed as a “pet ceme­tery evan­ge­list.”

McClure had a spe­cial place in his heart for pets and in 1971, af­ter read­ing a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle about dead pets be­ing dumped in ar­eas of Santa Clara County, he de­cided to open the Warm Springs Pet Ceme­tery on a 5-acre plot of va­cant land on Braga Av­enue in Fre­mont. He had big plans for the ceme­tery, in­clud­ing a chapel and me­mo­rial foun­tain, and room for 17,500 dearly de­parted pets.

I don’t know what hap­pened to McClure, but in 1976, a por­tion of the ceme­tery was taken over for high­way con­struc­tion, ease­ments and de­vel­op­ment, and the size of the ceme­tery shrank to just un­der 2 acres.

It ap­pears own­er­ship and man­age­ment of the ceme­tery changed hands of­ten in the mid- to late 1970s. A 1978 Oakland Tri­bune story had an interview with a new owner, Steve Watkins, and at one time Jiggs and Hazel Ber­ry­man were listed as “res­i­dent man­ager.”

While the par­tic­u­lars of the ceme­tery re­main a lit­tle hazy, the mem­o­ries of the pets in­terred there are sharp. Here are two let­ters from peo­ple about their pet ceme­tery ex­pe­ri­ences.

DEAR JOAN » In the late 1970s, my par­ents buried their dog, Pierre, in the Warm Springs Pet Ceme­tery. I only went there once with them to visit the grave so I had never been sure where it was lo­cated.

My par­ents have been gone for many years but the mys­tery of where that ceme­tery was re­mained un­til I read your ar­ti­cle. I drove from my home in Cu­per­tino to Fre­mont and found the ceme­tery. The gate for main­te­nance ve­hi­cles is chained but there is a gate next to it and I was able to go in and find Pierre’s grave. It is very dif­fer­ent now.

The orig­i­nal ceme­tery was on a large piece of land with lawn. Now the graves run along the side and back of a park­ing lot and are sur­rounded by gravel.

I was pleased to see how neat and clean the graves are be­ing kept be­cause we all loved that lit­tle dog. My dad rode a mo­tor­cy­cle and he made a seat, gog­gles, hel­met and a leather jacket for Pierre so he could join Dad and Mom for trips.

I’m sure that the pet ceme­tery made los­ing Pierre a lit­tle eas­ier for my par­ents. — Elaine ( War­ren) Rosin­gana, Cu­per­tino

DEAR JOAN » My fa­ther buried our lit­tle minia­ture schnau­zer at Warm Springs in the early 1970s. On the back of the busi­ness card that I found in an old trunk, my fa­ther wrote: Sec­tion 11, Space 8, Row 1.

I never knew where our fam­ily pet was buried and the busi­ness card an­swered my ques­tion. It ap­pears that 47000 Braga Ave. was ab­sorbed into the com­mer­cial prop­erty, but I was happy to see that the small pet ceme­tery was pre­served. — Carolyn Bel­lamy, North Salt Lake, Utah

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