People
2:41 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

The Celebrities Buried In Kansas City Cemeteries

The tombstone of Charlie "Bird" Parker buried in Lincoln Cemetery.
Credit CoolValley / Flickr - CC

Do the ghosts of Jesse James, Cole Younger, and Annie Chambers still haunt us? What about the apparitions of Carrie Nation and Tom Pendergast?

These folks all have one thing in common — they're all buried right here in Kansas City. So, for a brief moment, let's resurrect these long-slumbering souls and explore the fascinating lives of some of Kansas City's famous dead:

Goodman Ace (1899-1982) and Jane Ace (1900-1974)

From 1931 to 1945, Goodman Ace and his wife Jane performed as the "Easy Aces" on a radio serial program for CBS. Both Goodman Aiskowitz and Jane Epstein lived in Kansas City prior to their radio show; Goodman was a radio film critic for KMBC and legend has it that on one particular night when there was time to fill, Goodman chatted with his wife about their weekly bridge game. The audience enjoyed it so much, it became a recurring show eventually being picked up nationally. They are buried at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Raytown, Mo.

Ralph Barton (1891-1931)

Born in Kansas City, Ralph was one of the most famous artists of the 1920s. His work was frequently published in Vanity Fair and Puck Magazine. He became notable for drawing celebrity caricatures in large group shots. Ralph is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Kansas City, Mo.

A drawing in 1921 by Ralph Barton entitled "When The 5 O'Clock Whistle Blows in Hollywood."
Credit Wikimedia Commons - CC

Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)

Born in St. Joseph, Mo., Cronkite will always be remembered as the face of CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981. He reported on many life-changing moments like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the violence during the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the Moon Landing. At one point, he was called "The Most Trusted Man in America." Walter is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery. "And that's the way it is."

Harold Ensley (1912-2005)

A lifelong resident of the Kansas City area, Harold had a television show called "The Sportsman's Friend" which began airing on KCMO-TV in 1953. It was one of the first syndicated television shows about hunting and fishing. The show lasted for twenty-one years. Harold is buried at Longview Memorial Gardens in Kansas City, Mo.

Rufus R. Jones (1933-1993)

Rufus "Freight Train" Jones was a professional wrestler who wrestled for the St. Louis Wrestling Club and the National Wrestling Alliance. He received the nickname "Freight Train" for his immovability and sheer power. After his wrestling career ended, he opened up a restaurant in Kansas City called Rufus' Ringside Restaurant and Bar. Rufus is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, Mo.

Betty Peterson (1918-2006)

A songwriter born in Spurgeon, Mo., she wrote the lyrics for "My Happiness" which has been recorded by The Pied Pipers, Connie Francis, and Elvis Presley. Betty is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kansas City, Mo.

There are many more celebrities buried in Kansas City's cemeteries including those that had a hand in building Kansas City — Jacob Loose, John Wornall, the Armour Family, William Rochill Nelson and J.C. Nichols.

An excellent resource is available at FindAGrave.

The content for this post originated from KCUR's talk show, Central Standard. You can listen to the broadcast at the top of this post.

Guests:

  • Bruce Matthews, Author of The Kansas City Spirit and director of the Elmwood Cemetery
  • John Mark Lambertson, former director and board member of Union Cemetery