- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) You can call it going to college on the eternity plan.
At the University of Richmond, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, students, spouses and dependents can now opt for a final resting place in the new columbarium and memorial garden on campus.
The columbarium, a vault with niches for cremated remains, and the memorial garden, where the remains can be interred, was dedicated Saturday.
Robert A. MacDonald, 75, a professor emeritus who taught Spanish to UR students for four decades, said the columbarium is a better choice for him than having his remains shipped to his native upstate New York.
"I picked out a niche on the top row with a nice view so I can look out and see what's going on," he said with a laugh.
The private university has signed six contracts since February and has about 25 other families expressing interest.
"For so many of our graduates, the University of Richmond is home. They have fond memories of this place. They have developed good friendships here," said Ron Inlow, assistant vice president of auxiliary services.
A serpentine wall, limestone planters and a fountain have replaced a steep, somewhat-overgrown garden on the east side of Cannon Memorial Chapel where many brides-to-be have made their way to the chapel's front entrance.
David Burhans, university chaplain, said the garden and columbarium are a natural fit with the chapel's purpose. The chaplaincy will maintain a journal featuring biographical information on those whose remains rest there.
"It will become a sort of running history of the university," he said. "Fifty years from now I think it will be quite fascinating."
John Hoogakker, the university's assistant vice president for facilities, spearheaded the planning and construction of the columbarium and designed its entrance gates. The gates feature a leaf motif with a spider, the university mascot, climbing the iron branches.
Mr. Inlow said columbariums on campuses are unusual, but some other colleges have them in the works and a few have contacted UR for information.
The University of Virginia added a columbarium to its cemetery in 1991. Even with strict eligibility requirements, less than a third of its 180 niches are now available. A second phase is planned for an additional 180 niches, said Laura Wilmore, a clinical secretary in the department of cardiology who handles columbarium requests.
At UR, each of the about 3,000 niches can hold two urns of cremated remains. A niche costs $3,000 and a garden interment costs $350.
The first person to write a check for a niche was H. Gerald Quigg, vice president emeritus for development and university relations.
"I am 65 years old," he said. "I have spent more than a third of my life at the university. It has been an integral part of my life."
Mr. Quigg said his wife, Lorraine, and he had decided long ago that they wanted to be cremated.
"Everything is paid for and taken care of. When my time comes, I just want everybody to drink a few beers for the old guy."

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