San Tan Memorial Gardens: Making history, keeping history

Cemetery officials plan to establish program to record histories of those buried there


(Courtesy of San Tan Memorial Gardens)

San Tan Memorial Gardens at Schnepf Farms — the first and only cemetery in the Queen Creek area — just celebrated its fourth anniversary.

It opened in January 2013 after the Schnepfs — one of the community’s founding families and owners of Schnepf Farms — donated the land.

Dillon Benavides, manager of San Tan Memorial Gardens, 22425 E. Cloud Road, said it was Mark Schnepf’s father, Ray, who had a vision to bring a cemetery to Queen Creek in order to keep the farming families here in the community.

“We are very new in the cemetery industry. We are very young,” he said. “We have a lot of room to grow. It means we will be around for a long time.”

The cemetery at San Tan Memorial Gardens uses 7 acres of land and will soon expand up to 40 acres. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

San Tan Memorial Gardens takes care of strictly the burial side of funerals, Mr. Benavides said.

The cemetery uses 7 acres of land and will soon expand up to 40 acres. It presently has 300 people buried there.

“Over time we will be able to expand and develop the cemetery to ultimately have plots and spaces available on the full 40 acres,” he said. “Within that 7-acre range, we have several thousand spaces available.”

The cemetery, off Cloud Road, will never expand to the east or west because it is restricted by the farm to the east and a community to the west.

There will be an entry off Signal Butte, Mr. Benavides said.

Future expansion will include more than additional burial sites. Promoting family history will be a priority of the cemetery staff.

The addition of a mausoleum is included in the expansion plans for San Tan Memorial Gardens. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

“We have plans not only to house people’s loved ones, but to make history and keep history,” he said. “In everything we do, to the first burial to the 100th, we’re making history in Queen Creek.”

Mr. Benavides said the company takes yearly pictures of its staff and grounds to keep track of its history.

“We’re hoping to establish a program to allow families to bring in photos and stories to contribute to keep that in the family file,” he said.

“So that generations from now, families can come to the office and say ‘my great -grandma is here, what information do you have on her?’ We want to be able to show the community that we know her, this is her history, here are some stories and pictures,” Mr. Benavides said.

The plan is to not only have the histories available in person but to have them online as well.

Families from Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Florence, south Gilbert and Chandler have laid their loved ones to rest at the cemetery, Mr. Benavides said.

“We pride ourselves on being the first cemetery in the southeast Valley, not just Queen Creek, because we have served so many people,” he said.

Cost of plots range from $170 for infant burials to $3,170.

For more information, visit or call 480-987-2488. Office hours are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Grounds are open 24 hours a day.

Arianna Grainey is a freelance photojournalist.

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