Fresno's Chapel of the Light celebrates its 105th anniversary

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno's Chapel of the Light is celebrating its 105th anniversary on Wednesday night with a reception.

It is a full-service funeral home and includes a mausoleum, crematory, and cemetery.

And when you look around, you notice the building is rich in Fresno history

The chapel opened in July of 1914.

Families come every day to pay their respects to loved ones, but General Manager Michael Rabara says visitors often notice all the notable names which trace Fresno history.

"As you walk around, it's like a museum in itself because you start seeing old Fresno names, especially in our columbarium."

The ashes of M. Theodore Kearney are interred here. He had everything from a boulevard to a park named in his honor.

Back then, many of Fresno's affluent chose to be cremated.

"Just walking through the hallways and you see, 'oh I know this person', or 'this person' had an impact on Fresno this way and you start piecing together old Fresno," says Rabara.

Thomas W Patterson was a real estate capitalist. The building he put up in downtown Fresno still stands.

Celebrated photographer Claude 'Pop' Laval is laid to rest here. So is Oscar Woodward. The banker had Woodward Park named after him.

Dr. Chester Rowell was Fresno Mayor between 1909 and 1912.

"He's the only silver urn that's in our mausoleum," says Rabara.

But Rabara says the urn is empty.

A sculpture of Dr. Rowell sits in Courthouse Park right across the street from the building named in his honor.

It is also his final resting place.

"The cremated remains are said to be in the left boot of Dr. Chester Rowell," says Rabara.

Chapel of the Light is holding an open house for all the families they have served over the years.

Hors d'ouvres, wine, even a visit by Santa is planned.

"Just a more upbeat event to let families know they're not alone this holiday season," says Rabara.
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