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The What, Who and How of the 24 Hour Association

24 Hour Association Annual Meeting
Tue, Mar 11, 10:30am
Sala Quetzal
La Biblioteca
Reloj 50A

What is the 24 Hour Association? This fine, not-for- profit association was formed in 1965 when a certain San Miguel resident, retired Admiral Alex Charlton, USN, saw the need for foreign residents to have a support group to negotiate the legal intricacies of handling their deaths in Mexico. A committee of 11 was selected to see to the final wishes, as indicated on an association member’s application form. To participate in this group, one must be a member. The officers then handle the required Mexican legal documents; they communicate with relatives and friends of the deceased here and abroad, and they assist in arranging the funeral services as specified in the member’s file.

The association was granted land for foreign burial in 1973, when the city expanded the Pantheon, located beyond the parking area of the Real de Minas Hotel, near Stirling Dickinson. Stirling Dickinson himself devised the original layout and planting plan, and the Board of Directors agreed that the cemetery should conform to a general overall plan rather than specific and individual plots and stones. Consequently, visitors to this ground will see a tranquil, uniform series of graves, niches, stones and plaques, which add to the overall effect of peace and rest.

As recently as 1999, the association had grown to several hundred members, and the officers decided it was in everyone’s best interest to be in full compliance with Mexican law. It was duly registered in its current status as an “asociación civil.” We have progressed from the original card files (similar to old library cards) to the current computerized files and an emergency 24-hour cellular phone to fulfill the wishes of our members in our traditional punctual but low key manner.

Who are the people who make this happen? There is a Board of Directors with up to eleven members. They are dedicated and committed individuals who believe in the importance of such an association. Some of our members have signed up literally decades ago. But as you may have noticed, we live longer in San Miguel, so their membership and its one-time application and fee, simply last a lifetime. One Board member, Marthe Fraser, the current Treasurer, has been serving for 20 years. Another, Natalie Hardy, the current Vice President, is completing her tenth year after experiencing the advantages of membership when her husband died in 2004. The Executive Secretary, Linda Cooper, is the one vested with the lion’s share of the work. She carries a 24-hour cell phone wherever she goes, just in case there is someone in need. She is the go-to person for membership, information, and the ultimate service of the association. It is challenging work, and Linda is up to it. She loves problem solving, which most of our cases involve on one or another level. Sue Gearhart is our current President. She said at a meeting a few days ago that years ago, when she became aware of 24 Hours, she wanted to be a part of it. There are several “at-large” Board Members: Judith Chaikin, Pat Frey, Dr. David Rowe and Pat Hirschl. Melanie Nance will soon rejoin the Board after a year’s absence from San Miguel. Two positions remain available for any Board member who wants to participate in such a worthwhile venture.

How does one become a member? The Annual Meeting our Association takes place on March 11. Aspiring members can come to the meeting and receive answers to all questions and procedures for membership. Those who cannot make the meeting time can go to our web site on the Internet: or contact Linda Cooper, Executive Secretary, specific membership information: The 24 Hour Association will celebrate 50 years of existence in 2015. The track record of service is there. Ask those who are part of it. Membership is open to all residents of San Miguel. Fees are refundable upon request should your plans or geographic location change. How can you lose?

Natalie Hardy is the current Vice President and Public Relations Director of the 24 Hour Association. She has been a member for 14 years and a Board Member for 10 years. She is happily giving back to this organization, which was so supportive at the passing of her husband, Derrick, in 2004.


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