In 1981 several members and pastors of local churches called upon John Cooper the developer of Bella Vista Village to discuss building a columbarium at their churches. Mr. Cooper suggested that it would be more practical to study the need for a local cemetery and, if the study proved to be what the people of Bella Vista wanted, Cooper Communities would provide the land.
In 1982 a “Development Committee” composed of representatives of churches in the Ministerial Alliance was established. Each church and the Alliance pledged donations; these funds were matched by Cooper Communities and the incorporation plans proceeded. Cooper Communities donated 27 acres which included the old Buxton Cemetery (circa 1845 resting-place for 126 pioneers) and adjacent acreage.
In 1984 each church appointed two members to serve on the Board of Directors which then incorporated as “Bella Vista Cemetery Association,” a nonprofit organization, and Bella Vista Memorial Garden Cemetery became a reality. Board members obtained the services of E. Fay Jones, architect and designer of Throncrown near Eureka Springs and Mildred Cooper Memorial Chapels, to draft plans for the cemetery in keeping with a garden setting. Directors began membership participation sales to individuals and Cooper Communities generously matched funds. These original funds provided for markers and the initial development. Road construction began followed by water lines, grading, surveying of 334 burial plots and building of the first columbarium in the south section. In August 1985, the cemetery was officially dedicated and development continued.
Today, Bella Vista Memorial Garden Cemetery is operated by 10 Bella Vista area churches and still operates as a nonprofit service. Full participation of the entire community is encouraged and necessary in this unique ministry work. Each church seeks to appoint two directors to serve on the governing Board for a three-year term. The Board actively handles everything connected with running the cemetery. This, at times, becomes very "hands on," as our directors often find themselves performing physical labor. BVGMC is not a perpetual care cemetery; however funds are set aside for long-term maintenance.
The cemetery receives annual monetary support from our ten member churches which is used for our operating costs, and we encourage and are very grateful for all individual and organizational gifts and donations. Bella Vista Garden Club members spend many volunteer hours planting flowers, including our board members, using their individual time and talents contributing to a beautiful, peaceful pastoral setting.