A good addition to the Images of America graveyard books. As is typical, the text is circular and no doubt leaves much out, but if it inspires a true guide (with color pictures!) to Seattle’s lovely Lake View Cemetery, then it will have done its job.
It did guide my own visits to the graves of Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Lee, despite the typo in the listing of Hendrix’s final resting place. Lucky for me, there is no Evergreen Cemetery in Renton, Washington.
The author did a good job with the Seattle pioneers buried in Lake View, including both photos of the people and of their tombstones. Some cemetery books actually forget to show you what you’re looking for.
Lake View Cemetery
1554 15th Avenue E
Seattle, Washington 98112
Telephone: (206) 322-1582
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Founded: October 16, 1872 Size: 40 acres Number of interments: 17,000 or more Open: 9 a.m. to dusk daily (4:15 in winter, 6 p.m. in spring, 8 p.m. in summer)
As opposed to Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery, which looks out onto Lake Erie, Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery looks down from Capitol Hill toward Lake Union, Portage Bay, and Lake Washington.
Established as Seattle’s Masonic Cemetery in 1872, the cemetery was renamed in 1890. It lies adjacent to Volunteer Park, which served as Washelli Cemetery until Leigh Hunt, editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, demanded that the bodies lying there be moved so that the area could be enjoyed by the living. Some of these people had already been moved once before, when the city took over an original pioneer graveyard to make Denny Park.
The Denny family plot
Among those buried in Lake View Cemetery is Princess Angeline, the eldest daughter of Chief Sealth who gave his name to Seattle. Angeline’s given name was Kikisoblu, but after her conversion to Christianity, she was given a new name because she was “too handsome a woman to carry a name like that.”
At the crest of the hill rest four generations of the Denny family. Arthur Armstrong Denny and his wife Mary Boren Denny are credited with founding Seattle. Also in Lake View are Washington’s first governor (Elisha P. Ferry), Seattle’s first mayor (John Leary), Seattle’s first banker (Dexter Horton), and Seattle’s first shopkeeper (Dr. David Swinson Maynard, who declared his first wife dead so he could marry his second. Things turned awkward when wife #1 moved in with them, claiming half of Maynard’s land).
In the northeast corner stands the Nisei War Memorial Monument, dedicated in 1949 to Japanese Americans who volunteered to fight in World War II as a way to escape internment camps like the one in Puyallup, Washington.
Some of Lake View’s most interesting monuments draw from a wide variety of ethnic traditions, from Japanese, to Chinese, to Native American. One of my favorites was this one:
Lake View’s most famous permanent resident is Bruce Lee, who died in 1973 at the young age of 32 from cerebral edema caused by a bad reaction to a headache tablet. Beside him lies is son Brandon, who perished 20 years later at the age of 28, after being shot with an improperly loaded gun on the set of the original The Crow movie.
Bruce and Brandon Lee
Bruce’s large red granite slab identifies him as the founder of Jeet Kune Do (the Way of the Intercepting Fist), but his fans adore him for his movies: Enter the Dragon, Fists of Fury, and for upstaging the Green Hornet when he played Kato in the 1960s TV series. San Francisco-born Bruce Lee opened martial arts studios in Oakland, California and in Los Angeles, where he taught Steve McQueen and James Coburn, both of whom served as his pallbearers.
Brandon Lee’s monument is even more striking. Made of polished black granite, it has a swooping protuberance as if a shrouded figure is stepping clear of the stone. It includes a long epitaph which says in part: “How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems so limitless.”
Flowers, coins, pebbles, and other tributes often surround both graves, which lie just beneath the crest of the hill facing the water.
The photo prompt for this week is another one that’s tough to illustrate in a cemetery. I want to write about Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery for tomorrow’s Cemetery of the Week, so I’ll stick close geographically, if not in the same immediate grounds.
During my trip to Washington in February 2009, I wanted to visit Hendrix’s grave because his guitar-playing was so influential for my husband. We were staying with two musician friends in Seattle, so they were kind enough to chauffer me out to Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton. The weather was chilly and gray, but the rain held off while we poked around.
My host William chuckled about the conversation he’d face at work on the Monday after our visit. “Oh, what did you do this weekend?” he’d be asked. “Oh, nothing,” he’d say. “Just hung out in some cemeteries.”
I didn’t immediately recognize that some people might find such a thing unusual. I’ve been going to graveyards so long that it’s second nature. I always seek out graveyards when I travel. Even at home, I may spend as much time in graveyards as I do in the park. If I have some time on my own to kill, I often find the closest graveyard to explore.
I wasn’t sure if I should apologize to William, but he just laughed at me. “I know how you are,” he said. “It’s no problem.”
Greenwood Memorial Park
350 Monroe Avenue NE
Renton, Washington 98056
Telephone: (425) 255-1511 Founded: Late 1909 First burial: February 25, 1910 Size: 40 acres Approximate number of interments: 12,000 Open: Dawn to dusk daily
When Jimi Hendrix suddenly died in London on September 18, 1970, his father James “Al” Hendrix barely had the money to bring his body home. Among the fans attending the Seattle funeral were Miles Davis, Johnny Winter, and drummer Buddy Miles.
The elder Hendrix had purchased a small family plot in Greenwood Memorial Park near the family home in Renton, Washington, south of Seattle and east of Sea-Tac. Jimi was the first Hendrix to be buried there, under a simple granite headstone illustrated with a Stratocaster guitar and the epitaph “Forever in Our Hearts.”
Hendrix’s original tombstone
In 1995, Al Hendrix finally regained control of Jimi’s music with the help of Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, founder of the Seattle Experience Music Project and owner of the largest collection of Hendrix memorabilia in the world. With these new funds, the senior Hendrix bought a 54-plot space in Greenwood and had plans drawn up for a suitable monument to his son. Unfortunately, he didn’t survive to see it completed.
Sundial and one of the portraits, with family headstones surrounding the outside.
The monument, designed by architect Mark Barthelemy of Cold Springs, is a granite-capped gazebo. Each of its three supporting pillars features a laser-etched portrait of Hendrix and some of his lyrics in his handwriting. The breathtaking monument is handicap-accessible.
On November 26, 2002 (the day before his 60th birthday), Jimi Hendrix was exhumed and reburied with his father in a vault beneath the new monument. His original headstone, newly restored, was encased in granite in the center of the memorial. His original burial site was then marked with a simple bronze placeholder.
A life-sized bronze statue of Jimi had been commissioned to stand atop the plinth built around the old headstone in the new monument. According to the memorial’s website, as of 2003, the statue was being constructed in Italy. When I visited in 2009, it had not yet been put in place. (This is not the same statue erected in front of the AEI Music Networks on Broadway at Pine in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district, which was completed in 1997. For several years, there have been rumors that the statue by Darryl Smith might be moved to the park that bears Hendrix’s name beside the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle’s Central District. Nothing concrete seems to have been announced yet.)
Up to 15,000 fans visit Hendrix’s grave each year. Before Hendrix was moved, fans trampled adjacent graves and caused some damage. Now they leave flowers, lipstick kisses, and drug paraphernalia.
Greenwood follows the memorial park style in that it is a large, flat green plain. Highlights include a modern carillon, a Veterans of Foreign Wars monument, crowned with an anti-aircraft gun, and the Garden of Eternal Peace, which features a large pagoda and a fountain surrounded by large carp. Hendrix’s tomb is easy to see when you enter the graveyard.
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