Saturday, July 22, 2023

Cartoons in a Cartoon Graveyard


Back in 2018, this blog brought you the final resting place of artist Bil Keane, famous for creating the long-running comic strip The Family Circus. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, Keane's grave is notable for its use of his many iconic characters and artwork.

Keane is not the only cartoonist to have a memorial to his creations.  Charles M. Schultz has an entire park devoted to his grave and his characters from the classic comic strip Peanuts.  One day, this blogger will visit that site in Sonoma, California.

I have however been to two similar graves honoring classic cartoonists and their creations, both of which are on the East Coast.

Addison Morton "Mort" Walker created not one but two iconic comic strips, Hi and Lois and Beetle Bailey, the latter of which adorns his headstone in Westport, Connecticut's Willowbrook Cemetery.  Walker died from pneuemonia on January 27, 2018.  He was 94 years old.

Prior to his passing, his two sons Brian and Greg assumed production responsibilities for Beetle Bailey, which still runs in more than 1,800 newspapers today.

George Gallagher, sometimes credited as George Gately, created the comic strip Heathcliff in 1973.  He continued to do so until his passing in 2001, at which time his nephew Peter continued production of the series.  Today, Heathcliff appears in more than 1,000 newspapers every day.

The orange mischievous cat, a model that would be perfected five years later by Jim Davis's Garfield character, adorns Gallagher's headstone, which you'll find in Tenafly, New Jersey's Mount Carmel Cemetery.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Ryan White


Ryan Wayne White was born in Kokomo, Indiana, on December 6, 1971.  He was born with hemophilia, a genetic disorder that impairs the body's ability to make blood clots. As such, he required regular blood treatment sessions.  During one such episode in 1984, he contracted HIV from a contaminated blood source and was given just six months to live.

In response to his health status, White was barred from attending in-person classes at his school, instead having to listen in via telephone.  A legal battle ensued for nearly a year, but on April 10th, 1986, he was ultimately allowed to return to class.  As a result of the media generated by the case, White became a national figure and the face of AIDS, a disease that was still being understood.

On March 29th, 1990, White was admitted to an Indianapolis hospital with a respiratory tract infection and was placed on a ventilator.  His condition only worsened, and he ultimately passed on April 8th.  He was just 18 years old.  He had outlasted his doctor's expectations by more than five years.

Ryan White was laid to rest at Cicero Cemetery in Cicero, Indiana, near his mother's home.

Rest in peace.

  • More than 1,500 people attended White's funeral, a standing-room only event.  Notable attendees included Donald Trump, Barbara Bush, Michael Jackson, Phil Donahue and Howie Long.  Elton John performed his hit "Skyline Pigeon."

  • As noted in the pictures above, White's memorial was donated by actor Matt Frewer, most famously known for his portrayal of Max Headroom.

  • A year before his death, White's story was told in the made-for-TV movie The Ryan White Story, starring Judith Light and Lukas Haas.  You can watch it in its entirety on YouTube.

  • The autobiographical book Ryan White: My Own Story, was released two years after the author's death.  Pick up a copy on Amazon.

  • Four months after White's death, President George H.W. Bush signed the Ryan White CARE Act into law.  It provides grants to improve the quality and availability of care for individuals and families affected by HIV.  It has since been re-authorized twice.

  • White passed just one month shy of his high school graduation.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

President Abraham Lincoln


This blogger loves taking road trips, finding famous graves and unique roadside attractions. A recent trip through Springfield, Illinois, provided the opportunity to see both, as the city is home to not only Lincoln's Presidential Library (see Trivia below) but his final resting place as well.

The Lincoln Tomb is pretty unique as far as celebrity graves go.  It has a tall, one-story base shaped like a trapezoid with an obelisk rising nearly 120 feet into the air.  Construction began on April 16, 1865 - one day after Lincoln died at the hands of actor John Wilkes Booth.

Following his assassination, Lincoln lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda for two days, allowing visitors to pay their final respects to the fallen president.  His casket was then placed on a train for his final journey back to Springfield, taking a circuitous route that lasted three weeks, allowing citizens in a number of cities to pay their respects as well.  He was finally laid to rest in Oak Ridge Cemetery, in this unique mausoleum, which is today its own tourist attraction.

Rest in peace, Mr. President.


  • Lincoln's remains lie ten feet below the granite structure that bears his name.

  • Springfield is also home to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  This blogger cannot recommend it enough.  Go today.

  • Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is home to another unique attraction, the Lincoln Train Museum.  Here you will board a railcar and re-create Lincoln's final journey following his assassination.  You'll ride with a sarcophagus covered in flowers while a holographic Lincoln tells you of that fateful journey.  This is another attraction that is not to be missed!

  • Not to be forgotten is the Lincoln Museum in Hogdenville, Kentucky, the 16th President's birthplace.

  • As noted in the photos above, Mary Todd Lincoln and three of the couple's children are also entombed in the shrine.