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Donation funded cemetery fencing, road work
lee family
Joyce Lee — daughter of the late Tsuneko and L.P. Leonard — and members of her family gather after Saturday’s dedication.

Editor’s note: The following are part of the remarks made Saturday at East Union Cemetery during the dedication of a memorial for Tsuneko and L.P. Leonard Farrow in recognition of their donations to install wrought iron fencing and upgrade roadways at the 150-year-old cemetery at Union Road and Louise Avenue.



East Union Cemetery board

Joyce told me that her parents met in Japan, and they moved to Manteca around 1963. Her father, L.P., was in the Navy for 20 years, and then became an electronic technician for the Stockton Unified School district.

Her mother, Tsuneko was a homemaker, and often volunteered to help in Joyce’s classrooms’ when she was a young girl. After L.P. retired, her parents did a little traveling. 

Joyce told us that her mother very much wanted to help improve the cemetery, ever since L.P. was put to rest here.  She really wanted to make it as nice as possible; her wish was for it to be a place for others to enjoy. This may not be an exact quote, but I was told that Sue saidf , “didn’t want to live in an ugly place!”

Her suggestion for us to replace the fencing and re-do the roadways – and the substantial donation that allowed both of those things to happen – certainly went a long way toward taking East Union out of the ‘ugly’ category.

Joyce noted that her dad always supported her mother 100%, and he would have been pleased with the improvements Sue suggested. Joyce believes that her mother and father would be very happy with the outcome of all the changes we see around us today.

Donations have defined East Union Cemetery right from the outset, with a gift in 1872 of 2 acres of land from a county supervisor named Alvin Shedd, who lived in Lathrop–Manteca didn’t even exist ye.

After about 50 years, a woman named Henrietta Reynolds and the ladies of the tiny little East Union Church held a fundraising drive – they put up a nice fence, and installed the arch that we still see out there today. That fence was later replaced by more functional chain link – you can still find two of the older fence posts if you know where to look.

The cemetery has always been overseen by a board of directors; it’s still a private entity; but is now run entirely by volunteers.

We have people from Scout troops, service clubs, schools, churches, retirees, and most especially local American Legion and VFW veterans who help in so many ways, including maintaining the grounds, and with burials.

It’s easy to see that one or two positive changes influences others.

I think your parents would be pleased to know what a groundswell of change their donation started. We received a grant last year to improve and highlight this area behind me, where a lot of babies are buried – we added curbing, trellises, and the beautiful climbing plants you see. The Sierra High band donated proceeds from a benefit concert to buy those statues of little children you see.


We received a donation from the Farrow family to re-design the area west of the patio – we replaced the fountain, planted new trees and other landscaping, and added new architectural features. We’re just about to install a bamboo fence and rocks that will match this memorial, which will complete that area.

The biggest project we’ve been working on over the last 2 years is the creation of a Columbaria area, with above-ground niches for ash interment, available to all. Featured in the center of this project will be a Veteran’s Memorial Plaza, which will be dedicated to the 480 plus veterans who are interred here.

As you can see, the cement pad and flag wall are completed; and black granite is scheduled to be installed over the whole wall area in August. As soon as the granite is in place, we’ll be able to install the US flag and military service flags & flagpoles, plus military seals to correspond with each flag- I just ordered those yesterday! Fundraising is currently underway for the above-ground niches, which will be the final step; they’ll allow for the interment of up to 1500 sets of ashes.

Those of us who volunteer are often asked why we do it – often by our own children. Why devote so many hours to a cemetery? I think we do it for reasons that would seem very familiar to Sue and L.P. - it brings us joy to be in a quiet, sacred space, to see people able to bury and then visit their loved ones, and to serve the community in a quiet but valuable way.

Joyce said that she’s sure her parents would be happy with simply stating that they wanted to help improve the cemetery, and just make it a nicer place to visit. She believes that even though they didn't live to see any of the improvements,  they would be very happy that their contribution helped to make that vision a reality. She expressed appreciation for all that has been done so far, and ended by saying, “My parents would be proud.”


We are so pleased to honor them today – we truly would not have been able to make many of the positive changes you see today without them.