By Selwyn Harris
Roughly two weeks after the official columbarium dedication ceremony, the first remains of a military veteran and his wife were interred at Chief Tecopa Cemetery’s new memorial.
Bruce Cox, a member of the Pahrump Veterans Advisory Board and himself an army veteran, said he is honored to be the first person to place his mother and father’s remains in the columbarium.
“I lost my dad four and a half years ago and my mom last July, so it’s been just a little over a year since we lost her. They lived here in Pahrump for 23 years and this is what they wanted. They wanted to be here in town. They were originally from Oklahoma and they wound up in Pahrump.
“Twenty years ago, they had a recycling business out here called Mac’s Recycling and a lot of people remember him way back in the day,” he said.
Cox noted that his father served two tours in Vietnam as well as serving in other locations around the globe before retiring more than three decades ago.
“He retired in 1980 from Fort Hood. He retired as an E-8, which is a first sergeant. He was the G-4 of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood when he retired. We were in Germany as well,” he recalled.
Cox said the columbarium is not exclusively for those who served in the military.
“Spouses of veterans can be interred here too as long as a veteran has been honorably discharged. There are 72 niches in this columbarium and once this is full, then we will build the next one and then we will have six more total,” he said.
Cox’s father-in-law is also a retired veteran.
Jose Tellas, a former member of the Pahrump Veterans Advisory Board, said the columbarium project has been in the works for several years and he is proud that local families can begin interring their loved ones’ remains at the site.
He also spoke about the process of how to go about getting remains interred.
“They first need to contact the Town of Pahrump to take care of all of the administrative stuff. Families need to talk to someone at the town office about it. Right now there is room for 72, which allows for 36 on each side of the columbarium. We are also planning to build another one when there is no more room for this columbarium,” he said.
Cox also wanted to thank everyone who was involved in turning the columbarium from a mere idea into a reality.
“I just wanted to say thanks to the director of the Nye County Veterans Services Office, Ken Shockley, and especially my father-in-law. He is just a great guy and he was a key player in getting the veterans’ memorial and the columbarium. Before the columbarium, we had my parents’ ashes on the mantle in the house.
“My mom had my dad at home until she passed away. When my mom passed, I took them to the house and they have been together ever since and now they are in their final resting place. My dad passed away in March 2008 and my mom passed away in July of 2011.
“My dad was also the first one to have his memorial service here at the veterans’ memorial and now they are the first ones to be interred at the columbarium. My mom and dad were everything to me. It is just a joyous moment for me but sad at the same time,” he said.
Shockley said the recent dedication ceremony was the result of several years of work and dedication.
“I’m glad that it is finally coming together all in one piece now. Jose Tellas has been working on this for about six years. He started it in 2005, and we actually got the project going in early 2007.
“I was with Jose before the board was originally put together by the Town of Pahrump. I think we have done a lot of great things out here so far with building the cement pad, the memorial section for the wall and also getting the very first columbarium to let the veteran’s dependents know that we do have a columbarium niche there as well as getting the burial site ready as well,” he said.
Family members of military veterans can find out more information on how to get their loved one’s remains interred at the site by contacting the town office at 727-5107.