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Carved in stone, laughable lines linger

October 15, 2015
Westfield Republican

These days, genealogy. studying one's ancestral storyhas become a fascinating hobby for many folks, a full-time search for others. And for anyone interested in history, either their own or the history of their community, the best place to start is the local cemetery.

The last time I visited the Mina Cemetery, I stopped by the grave of long-time Fire Chief and friend, George "Bus" Bradley. There, still guarding this special man's final resting place, was a statue of his beloved Dalmatian pal, Findley Lake Fire Department's mascot, "Chief Many Spots."

Such tributes in the form of statues, benches and other mementoes are often a part of the scenery along the winding pathways of cemeteries.

But, as interesting as such tributes to those interred beneath the soil, the most revealing features of any cemetery are the words carved on the headstones. These final tributes can be unexpectedly humorous, amounting to the last words of those who have passed away.

Through the years, I've gathered quite a collection of these final tributes. So, as we mosey toward Halloween, here are some of the most memorable tombstone ticklers I've found.

Many of the famous have gone out of their way to leave last words for the world to see.

For example, actor Jack Lemmon crowned his grave with a stone made up like a movie marquee. The tribute, inscribed in staggered lines, read, Jack Lemmon/in /"The Ground."

Leslie Nielsen, longtime actor who, among his many films, starred in "Airplane," had uttered the famous line "And don't call me Shirley." Friends expected Nielsen would use those words as his epitaph. Instead, he had his headstone inscribed simply, "Let 'er rip!"

Merv Griffin, a famous game show host of some years ago, had his gravestone inscribed with "I will not be right back after this message."

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield got the last laugh with "There goes the neighborhood."

But average folks, too, took advantage of the chance for a final chuckle with their headstone humor.

One gent's stone read "I told you I was sick."

Another seemed to agree when he had his inscribed "I knew this would happen."

George Johnson, who died in the 1880s, left a message for those who had misjudged him. "Hanged by mistake, he was right, we was wrong, and now he's gone."

More modern messages include this one from the new and demanding electronic age, "Died from not forwarding that text message to 10 people."

Some others include: My mother-in-law's chicken really is to die for!"

"This is not what I had in mind when I said 'over my dead body.'"

"Does my butt look big in this coffin?"

"Wait! I wanted a tomb with a view."

"I'm finally thin-maybe a bit too thin."

"OK. Joke's over. Let me out now."

"The GPS is NOT always right, sweetheart."

"Hey! That's not my name. I'm in the wrong grave!"

"My doctor finally did something to stop the pain. But the side effects are murder."

"I was here, now I'm gone. Party on!"

And, the one that seems most suitable for me was inscribed on Billy Wilder's stone. "I'm a writer, but then, nobody's perfect."



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