History of The 24 hour Assoc

A Little History

Since it’s humble beginnings in 1965 when Admiral Alex Charlton, U.S.N. (ret) sent out a short memo to members of the foreign community, the Association has grown to around 500 members. The memo is  worth quoting in part: “As most of you know Mexican  law requires burial within 24 hours of death.” (Actually that is not true today.) “This presents immediate  problems which cannot await the arrival of executors no matter how carefully pre-arranged. Therefore, a committee of year round residents is being  set up to take action in accordance with directions  ... specifying all wishes of the deceased who will have deposited in the Association a sum sufficient to cover the type of services required. .....”  In those days Celaya was the nearest place where place where embalming could be done and for cremation it was Mexico City. To transport a body to {Mexico city} and the ashes back to San Miguel necessitated the payment of six state taxes and lots of paperwork.

Until 1973 members were interred in the pantheon (cemetery)with the general population. In that year the city expanded the cemetery and granted the Association  it’s own plot. The Association was allocated  approximately1000 square meters of land. In exchange the Association paid $30,000 pesos for  certain improvements including the brick wall encompassing  the entire expansion. Stirling Dickinson and Florence Howard devised the original layout and planting plan and the Board stated: “The 24Hour Plot shall  conform  to a general overall plan, rather than specific and individual.”

The Association in 1999 decided it was in its best interests to be in full compliance with Mexican law and  to that end was duly registered as a nonprofit Associacion Civil. Alfredo Zavala drew up the legal documents  and Alberto Carbajo was hired as our accountant. Also  that  year the comprehensive plot renovation was begun under the direction of Tim Wachter. Well, we now  have computer files, an emergency cellular phone, and  a website.

The Association is still faithfully fulfilling the wishes of it’s membership in it’s usual low key manner. The cemetery and our plot are open to the public 7 days a week from 9am to 6pm.  Both the Mexican and foreign communities come and enjoy our quiet oasis.