When Frances “Rita” Eby died in January 2014 at age 96, her daughter knew where she would inter her mother’s cremated remains ”“ she would bury them in the rose garden at St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach.
“Her church was so close to her heart,” said Eby’s daughter, Trish Norman.
Eby, Norman and St. James had a history. Eby was a congregant and volunteer at the church for 60 years. And Norman, 75, was confirmed at the church and attended Sunday school there.
So last month, when the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles shuttered the church on Via Lido as part of a plan to sell the property, Norman was concerned about what would become of the remains of her mother and 11 others buried in the rose garden.
Norman was further disturbed when she heard that the land could be sold to a developer to build luxury townhouses, a sale that might raise $15 million for the diocese.
“Who does that? You wouldn’t go into Pacific View and build townhomes there,” she said, referring to a local cemetery.