By Sara Beth Williams–
Many prominent men and women have been laid to rest in two large cemeteries in Citrus Heights, including the daughter of a former United States President and an acclaimed artist.
Other names are of local leaders and landowners from long ago, for which parks and streets have been named. Some were servicemen who bravely fought for their country.
Calvary Cemetery and Funeral Center, located off Verner Avenue and visible from Interstate 80, was established and dedicated in 1953 by Bishop Robert Armstrong. The location is the second-largest cemetery owned by the Diocese of Sacramento.
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The cemetery’s first burial took place on July 30, 1953. President and CEO of Catholic Funeral & Cemetery Services of the Diocese of Sacramento Jerry Del Core said in an email there are over 17,000 souls buried in the cemetery to date, including the daughter of former president and California Gov. Ronald Reagan.
Maureen Reagan, daughter of Ronald Reagan and stepdaughter to former actor Nancy Reagan, was buried in Calvary Cemetery in 2001. According to an SFGATE article dated Aug. 9, 2001, Maureen Reagan died at the age of 60 after a five-year battle with cancer.
In an article dated Aug. 18, 2001, Reagan was remembered as a “champion of women in politics, a relentless crusader against the Alzheimer’s disease that has stricken her father and a woman who lived up to the code name Secret Service agents gave her: ‘Radiant.’”
A photo showcasing her memorial at Calvary Cemetery can be seen on the Famous Graves Facebook page.
Acclaimed artist Martin Ramirez, whose work is featured in an online collection by The Guggenheim Museum in New York City, is also buried at Calvary Cemetery. Born in 1895 in Jalisco, Mexico, Ramirez is considered one of the 20th century’s “self-taught masters of drawing,” according to a biography posted on the Guggenheim Museum’s website.
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The bio says Ramirez immigrated to the United States at the age of 30, working on railroads and in mines before becoming a drifter during the Great Depression. He was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent to DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn, California in 1948.
During his 15 years at the psychiatric institution, he produced 450 known drawings and collages before he passed away. He was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Citrus Heights in 1963.
Del Core said that the cemetery currently has over 5,000 available graves, cremation niches and crypts available to those wishing to lay their family to rest.
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Construction on a new funeral center is also underway, located nearest the Interstate. The center was slated to be operational in May, but Del Core said that due to pandemic-related delays, completion has been pushed back to January, 2023. The new center will offer mortuary, funeral and cremation services.
While Calvary Cemetery is nearing its 70th anniversary, Sylvan Cemetery on Auburn Boulevard recently celebrated 160 years. Though Sylvan Cemetery doesn’t boast nationally prominent names, well-known local names like the Van Maren family and more than 1,400 veterans are buried at the site.
According to a prior report by The Sentinel, Sylvan Cemetery offers a free headstone to veterans. The stories of veterans and other local figures buried at the site are highlighted in the book “The Sylvan Cemetery: A Living History” by Jim Monteton.
Related: Local author talks about his new book on Sylvan Cemetery