These people had just enough time to select what they wanted on their headstones. And, let’s just say that they’re anything but ordinary. Some will make you laugh, some will make you really think. Regardless, they meet the deceased individual’s goal….to make a powerful statement.
To be clear, Sir Jeffery Hudson didn’t die from being baked in a pie. It was apparently just his claim to fame—one that follows him even more than 300 years after his death.
Shakespeare’s epitaph was thought to have been written by the Bard himself to prevent his corpse from being dug up for research purposes, which was commonplace at the time. So far, his warning seems to have worked.
Before his death, Academy Award winner Jack Lemmon was able to specify that he wanted his tombstone to be his final marquee. His instructions were followed to the letter—not even dates of birth or death accompany the simple statement
Legendary talk show host Merv Griffin wrote his own epitaph before his death, choosing this one over “I told you I was sick,” a favorite amongst epitaph jokesters. People magazine reports that he chose “Stay tuned,” but “I will not be right back…” must have won out before engraving was finalized
Word to the wise: Don’t anger cat ladies. When Mary Dolencie died in 1985, she wanted the world to know how angry she was at Whaling Port, her housing association. She believed her neighbors had it in for her, complaining about the number of cats she had and how she attracted pigeons to the area by feeding them. To get revenge, she had a curse engraved on her tombstone—but the people of Whaling Port say that so far, even decades later, things seem to be just fine.
According to Snopes, there’s quite the story behind Grigsby’s final words. As Abraham Lincoln’s friend and extended family member (his brother married Lincoln’s sister), Grigsby blamed the Democratic party for his death and, indeed, the entire Civil War. Twenty years after Lincoln was assassinated, Grigsby dictated his own epitaph as he lay on his deathbed and asked one of his sons to make sure the inscription was carried out.
Bill Kugle was a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Can you guess which party he belonged to?
Jerry Bibb Balisok’s epitaph is the story of a heartbroken mother. Balisok disappeared in 1977, two weeks before he was to stand trial for writing bad checks. After not hearing from her son for two years, Marjorie Balisok, his mother, became convinced that she had spotted her son’s body in a picture of aftermath of the Jonestown massacre. The State Department and the FBI investigated Jerry Balisok and concluded that he never left the United States, but Marjorie was positive her son was dead, and furious that she was unable to cash in on his insurance money since there was no body. Unfortunately, Marjorie died in 1983—seven years before her son would resurface under an assumed name. He was convicted of attempted murder and given a 20-year prison sentence in 1993.
While it was once commonplace to put cause of death on gravestones, this particular demise was anything but run-of-the-mill.
The famous funnyman had his epitaph planned for close to 15 years. He died in 2010, but said in a 1996 interview that he intended to put “Let ‘er rip” on his gravestone. There’s also a bench dedicated to Nielsen nearby; it’s inscribed with “Sit down whenever you can.”
Apparently comedian Rodney Dangerfield wanted to leave ’em laughing.