Archive for March, 2014

Van Stephenson

Posted in Woodlawn Memorial Park (TN) with tags , on March 28, 2014 by Cade

stephensonNovember 4, 1953 – April 8, 2001

Van Stephenson was a notable Nashville songwriter who wrote hits for the likes of Crystal Gayle, Dan Seals, Kenny Rogers and the band Restless Heart. But, beyond writing, he also had a career as a performer and recording artist. He had a number of solo albums in the 1980’s, but is perhaps most remembered as one third of the 1990’s country act, BlackHawk. Stephenson enjoyed success with the group for the better part of the decade. He left the group in 2000 due to being diagnosed with Melanoma. He died from the disease the next year at the age of 47.


Woodlawn Memorial Park – Nashville, TN

Specific Location

Cross Mausoleum, Third Floor – Enter the main entrance on the south side of the mausoleum, go left up the flight of stairs, then take your second right, Van’s crypt is in the second to last (fourth) alcove on your left, just above head height.



John Hancock

Posted in Granary Burial Ground with tags on March 28, 2014 by Cade

hancock1January 23, 1737 – October 8, 1793

The first governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, president of the Second Continental Congress and an important figure in the American Revolutionary War, John Hancock could be remembered for a number of things. But, it is, of course, his giant signature on the Declaration of Independence (he was the first to sign it) for which is is most closely associated. So much so, that the term “John Hancock” is nearly synonymous with “signature” in the U.S. even today. Hancock was a wealthy businessman in Boston who was involved with local politics. He worked closely with his mentor, Samuel Adams, and dealt directly with the aftermath of many of the pivotal pre-Revolution events such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. He was an immensely popular figure in Massachusetts, yet upon his death at the age of 56, and despite a grand state funeral, his legacy quickly faded with history. In fact, his now-unmissable grave marker wasn’t even installed until a century after his death. History can be cruel.  At least he had that signature that was sure to live on.


The Granary Burial Ground – Boston, MA

Specific Location

At the southwestern end of the cemetery, Hancock’s large monument is right along the fence.


Dred Scott

Posted in Calvary Cemetery (MO) with tags on March 27, 2014 by Cade

scott4Circa 1799 – September 17, 1858

Perhaps the most famous slave in American history, Dred Scott sued his owner for freedom citing time spent living in free states. Unfortunately for Scott, he filed suit in Missouri (the family’s permanent residence) which was a slave state at the time. Local courts ruled against him. His case, however, eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme court where it also went against Scott. Having unsuccessfully tried gaining his and his family’s freedom through legal avenues, it wasn’t until months after the court decision that the Scotts were sold back to their original owners, the Blow family, who subsequently freed them. A now free Scott went to work as a porter in St. Louis, but his time was short-lived. He died of tuberculosis a little more than a year later. The outcome of his case would enact a lot of action from both pro and anti-slavery groups, but ultimately, the case helped garner support for Constitutional amendments not only abolishing slavery, but granting U.S. citizenship to former slaves.


Calvary Cemetery – St. Louis, MO

Specific Location

Section 1; This section is made up of 4 smaller areas, Dred’s penny-laden grave is in the westernmost of these areas near the road that separates it from the area to the east (also Section 1).


Frances Bay

Posted in Mt. Sinai Memorial Park with tags on March 25, 2014 by Cade

bay1January 23, 1919 – September 15, 2011

Frances Bay (née Goffman) was a Canadian actor whose early career involved radio programming for troops during World War II. She studied acting under famed coach, Uta Hagen in South Africa before settling in Los Angeles. Her career didn’t really take off until she landed parts in a number of movies and TV shows in the 1970’s and ’80’s including a turn as Fonzie’s grandmother on Happy Days. She became best known for her extensive work with surrealistic director, David Lynch. Her most broadly notable performances would follow as Adam Sandler’s grandmother in Happy Gilmore and as the “old bag” from the classic Seinfeld episode “The Rye.” Bay continued to work into her 90’s appearing on shows like Grey’s Anatomy and The Middle. She died of pneumonia at the 92.


Mt. Sinai Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills, CA

Specific Location

Garden of the People of the Book, Lot 1062, Space 4; In the enclosed garden (behind the large mural) Frances and her husband are buried on the west side 2 rows and 2 spaces in from the northwest corner.


John Quincy Adams

Posted in United First Parish Church with tags , on March 19, 2014 by Cade

adams2July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848

John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States. While his presidency was unremarkable, even by early standards, his life in national politics was certainly impactful. He is the only U.S. President to serve in the House of Representatives AFTER leaving the presidency. He represented Massachusetts in Washington D.C. for the final 17 years of his life. Prior to being elected President, he served in the U.S. Senate and as Secretary of State under James Monroe. Despite all of this, he is probably best remembered for his service and prowess as a foreign diplomat. He was instrumental in the treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the U.S. and Great Britain. Adams also worked to acquire Florida from Spain in 1819. In addition, he was one of the chief architects of the Monroe Doctrine, which put a stop to European colonization of the Americas. In his last years in Congress, Adams warned of the impending crisis that would arise as a result of the slavery issue. At the age of 78, Adams suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in the congressional chamber. He died two days later. He was buried in a temporary vault in Washington before being moved the the family plot in Quincy, MA…only to be moved again into the now expanded vault across the street he had originally built for his parents. So far, that move has stuck.


United First Parish Church – Quincy, MA

Specific Location

Basement vault specifically built for the Adamses; Give the nice ladies a few dollars, take the short tour of the church and pay your respects to both John Q., his wife and his father.


Sergei Rachmaninoff

Posted in Kensico Cemetery with tags , on March 18, 2014 by Cade

rachmaninoff1April 1, 1873 – March 28, 1943

The last of the great Romantic Russian composers, Sergei Rachmaninoff was born into a prominent, if broke, old-aristocratic family. He overcame a torrid childhood filled with dying siblings, a deadbeat father and multiple homes. Through it all, his love for the piano endured. Despite being a below-average student, Rachmaninoff went on to study at the Moscow Conservatory where he excelled. A gifted musician and composer who was influenced by predecessors like Tchaikovsky, he wrote the majority of his catalog before the age of 35. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Rachmaninoff emigrated, by way of Scandinavia, to the United States where he took on a lengthy career as a conductor and touring performer. His time in America was lucrative, but lacked the inspiration of his homeland. He spent a significant amount of time in Switzerland and planned to be buried at his home there. But, he died of melanoma in Los Angeles…during World War II, so he somehow ended up in Westchester County, New York. As one does.


Kensico Cemetery – Valhalla, NY

Specific Location

Section 187; At the southeast corner of the circle in Pocantico Ave., directly across from the Actors Fund Plot.


Wilt Chamberlain

Posted in Cremated with tags , on March 18, 2014 by Cade

wilt1August 21, 1936 – October 12, 1999

Whether referred to as “Wilt the Stilt” (a name he hated) or “The Big Dipper” (a name he liked) or any of the numerous other nicknames he had, Wilton Norman Chamberlain could be called one, simple word: “Dominant.”

The 7′ 1″ basketball superstar literally changed the way the game was played. Because of Wilt, offensive goaltending became a no-no. Because of Wilt, dunking a free throw from a standing position (yes, he could do that) became a no-no. Because of Wilt, inbounding the ball OVER the backboard to a dunking big man became a no-no. He forced rule changes so that others could keep him in check. In his collegiate debut for the Kansas Jayhawks, Chamberlain scored 52 points and grabbed 31 rebounds. And that was just the beginning. During his career in the NBA, he averaged 30 points and 23 rebounds per game. Some seasons, he averaged 40 and 50 points. No one else has done that. Ever. He is the only player in NBA history to score 100 points in a single game (1962 for the Philadelphia Warriors.) Wilt won two NBA Championships, earned four MVP awards and held countless single-season performance records. He played for the Warriors, his hometown Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers. He also played for the Harlem Globetrotters for a bit. Off the court, he was a shrewd business man and dabbled in acting. In his 1991 autobiography, he claimed to have slept with 20,000 women in his life. He never married, obvs.

Despite an entire life of being very fit – rumors of an NBA comeback well into his 40’s were persistent – Wilt died of congestive heart failure in his Bel-Air mansion at the age of 63. Many of his records stand to this day.



James “Cool Papa” Bell

Posted in St. Peters Cemetery (MO) with tags , , on March 14, 2014 by Cade

bell1May 17, 1903 – March 7, 1991

“Cool Papa Bell was so fast that he could turn out the lights and be under the covers before the room got dark.” – Satchel Paige

James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell was a Negro Leagues center fielder who is widely regarded as one of the fastest men to ever play the position. His 28-year career in both the U.S. and Latin America garnered plenty of attention during the height of the popularity of the Negro Leagues. A feared baserunner, Bell was known to steal 2nd and 3rd base in a single play. Pitchers tried to avoid walking him as, once he was on base, he would almost assuredly score a run. On defense, it was thought to be impossible to hit the ball over his head because of his speed. Though many of the stories of his speed are mythical, his skill and talent certainly were legitimate. He batted .337 lifetime, was an 8 time All-Star and was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 – just the 5th Negro Leagues player to achieve that honor. Since such records were not kept at the time, it’s impossible to know exactly how many stolen bases he had, but it was undoubtedly a lot. After his playing career ended, he was a scout for the St. Louis Browns. He died of a heart attack in 1991 at the age of 87.


St. Peters Cemetery – Normandy, MO

Specific Location

Outside of the small, outdoor mausoleum at the southeastern corner of the cemetery.


Alexander Hamilton

Posted in Trinity Churchyard with tags on March 14, 2014 by Cade

hamilton1January 11, 1757 – July 12, 1804

Along with Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton was probably the most famous non-presidential founding father of the United States. Hamilton served as the first Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington. He was an instrumental public interpreter of the Constitution and his Federalist Papers remains one of the most important documents in American history. Hamilton was able to remain influential (despite significant disagreements) to all of the first three Presidents. He resigned from office in 1795, however, after evidence of a previous extra-marital affair surfaced. So, he was also the first political scandal in the U.S. Always the trailblazer, I guess. His support of rival Thomas Jefferson over Senator Aaron Burr gained Jefferson the 1800 election. This, of course, ended poorly for Hamilton when an increasingly angry and embarrassed Burr challenged him to a public duel after Hamilton cost him the 1804 New York governor’s race as well. In the duel, Hamilton was shot through the abdomen. It is said that his intentions were to intentionally miss Burr (which he did) but he failed to follow the common procedures of the day and Burr didn’t get the memo. A paralyzed and agonized Hamilton was moved to a friend’s house in lower Manhattan where he died of his wounds the following day.

Years later, Lin-Manuel Miranda would read a biography about Hamilton while on vacation.


Trinity Churchyard – New York, NY

Specific Location

On the south side of the church, Hamilton’s large monument is easy to spot, even from outside the fence on Rector St.


Eddy Arnold

Posted in Woodlawn Memorial Park (TN) with tags , on March 13, 2014 by Cade

arnold2May 15, 1918 – May 8, 2008

In the vast landscape that is American country music, few artists – if any – had the type of unbelievable success that Richard Edward “Eddy” Arnold had in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Arnold played the radio station circuit for years before breaking into the country charts with 1945’s “Each Minute Seems a Million Years.” Over the next decade, he would chart more than 40 singles on the country charts – many of which hit and stayed at No. 1. The 1950’s brought Rock ‘n’ Roll to the forefront and Eddy’s career waned. But, thanks to TV shows and some savvy studio experiments, Arnold was able to remain in the public eye and create songs that had appeal beyond the country audience. His foray into more “pop-friendly” recordings created (can be blamed for?) the so-called “Nashville Sound” – replacing traditional honky tonk instrumentation with popular string/orchestral arrangements – that would eventually give rise to modern country-pop music. Eddy Arnold continued to produce music and perform for decades. He received a number of awards and recognitions for his work in the industry and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. He died in a Nashville nursing home of natural causes in 2008. He was 89 years old.


Woodlawn Memorial Park – Nashville, TN

Specific Location

Chapel Garden H; Two rows in from the main road, a few yards north of the sidewalk.