Safeway plaque
A memorial plaque for Cherese Henderson in the parking lot of the Safeway and College and Claremont. Photo: Ted Friedman

If you happen to park in a particular spot in the parking lot of the College Avenue Safeway, near the Claremont Avenue exit, you might stumble on what seems to be a grave marker.

Someone buried in Safeway’s lot on the Oakland-Berkeley border? Unlikely, given California’s burial restrictions — some of the strictest in the nation.

The plaque is in fact a memorial for a young woman who died in 1998 at the age of 29, and whose birthday happened to fall on the day Berkeleyside came across the plaque last week.

Cherese Henderson worked at Safeway in the late 1990s.

Linda Jordan is one of four remaining Safeway employees who worked with Henderson. She recalled the day she died. “Cherese and I were on the way to taking food to a funeral for the son of a customer who had been killed at Jack-in-the-Box,” she said. “Cherese called the next morning, saying she wasn’t feeling well.” Cherese died about an hour after that call of a blood clot in her throat, Jordan said.

The memorial marker was donated by then Safeway store manager, Rich Matasage, said Jordon. After Berkeleyside noted that memorial markers can be expensive, Jordan said: “She was worth it. She was a special person: warm, loving, caring.”

Last week, Henderson’s mother talked to a Safeway employee about the fate of the parking lot memorial when Safeway begins its major renovation — which was green-lighted in December and could begin as early as May, according to the store’s manager, Gino Tacto.

Reached Friday, Wendy Gutshall, Manager of Government and Public  Affairs at Safeway, said the Henderson memorial would be spared during renovation.

New Safeway on College green-lighted: designs revealed [12.20.12]

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Freelancer Ted Friedman, B.S. Journalism, 1961, University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, was kicked out of photojournalism in 1959. “Turn in your Speed Graphex,” the award-winning photographer/professor...