Welcome to my world. It is a world filled with history, architecture, pastoral beauty, and of course death. My interest in cemeteries is a direct result of my long career as a funeral director. If I have learned anything, it is that each and every life is unique and deserves to be remembered. That is what I strive to do on these pages.
My latest book, Gardens of Stone, offers a mix of famous and obscure New Yorkers, along with a bit about their distinctive stories.
Hungarian-born journalist and newspaper publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, was born Jozsef Politzer in 1847. Several years after the death of his father--and after the family’s reversal of fortune--Pulitzer emigrated to the united States. Trying his hand at a variety of jobs, Pulitzer eventually found his true calling as a journalist. In his lifetime, he owned both the New York World and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Yet, it was what his considerable wealth made possible after his death that has made the Pulitzer name synonymous with Journalism: In 1912, the fist school of journalism was established at Columbia University and in 1917, the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded.
In October 1911, Pulitzer died unexpectedly aboard his yacht in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor, at the age of 64. The boat had been en route to Pulitzer’s winter home in Jekyll Island, Georgia, when a hurricane threatened. “Leise, ganz leise, ganz leise (softly, quite softly), were said to be his last words.
One of the most ornate monuments in Green-Wood is that of Charlotte Canda, who died in 1845, on her 17th birthday. Canda’s death was the consequence of a freak carriage accident that occurred on the way home from her birthday celebration. A tablet by the entrance to the monument makes note of this accident which took her life. Her Gothic monument, which --ironically --she helped design as a monument to her aunt, was personalized for young Canda and for years was the most popular monument in Green-Wood. Constructed of white Carrera Mable in the style of a tabernacle, the monument is decorated with 17 rosebuds, flowers, birds and musical instruments. A large statue of Canda in her birthday gown predominates beneath a marble canopy. In an 1893 article, The New World made reference to her “fair form still preserved in Marble.”
Charles Albert Jarrett de la Marie, said to be Canda’s fiancé committed suicide a year after her death and is buried nearby.
At the 1972 funeral of Jackie Robinson, 2,500 people packed Riverside Church in New York City. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, NY City Mayor John Lindsay, Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins were just a few of the dignitaries to join family and friends in saying good-bye to the baseball legend. Rev. Jesse Jackson told the 2,500 strong throng that “The body corrodes and fades away, but the deeds live on.” Indeed, the legacy of Robinson, the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball, has never left us.
The Georgia-born Robinson was a member of the Negro League when he was recruited by Dodgers VP, Branch Rickey, to help integrate the game of baseball. After playing a few seasons for the Dodgers farm team, Robinson made history on April 15, 1947, when he played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in Ebbets Field. That same year he was named the National League Rookie of the Year and, in 1949, he was its MVP. With Robinson on th…