(ODD)yssey, Blog Post

This Key West Cemetery has some of the world’s strangest epitaphs

I was lucky enough to visit Key West once, for one night and one day. A friend with a daughter Baby Girl’s age lived in Miami and we drove there to see them, then we all headed to Key West. I’ve written before about touring Hemingway’s house and seeing his polydactyl cats. Click here to read more. We loved the cats and the feral chickens on the island were also fun to watch.

The chickens loved to hang out in Key West Cemetery, where there were no living people to shoo them away. The cemetery was on my list of must-sees during our very brief stay because it is known for interesting epitaphs, with the most famous being the one of “B.P. “Pearl” Roberts’ grave: “I Told You I Was Sick.”

I came across some others while wandering through the historic cemetery, and another funny inscription has been added since our visit.

There are lots of locally famous people buried there; Key West is filled with colorful characters who shaped its quirky history. One famous man buried there is “General” Abe Sawyer (1862-1939). He was 40-inches tall and traveled with various circus sideshows in his time. Sawyer, who had always wanted to be taller, requested to be buried in a full-sized grave, and he was, according to the book, The Streets of Key West: A History Through Street Names.

Another interesting monument is dedicated to the victims of the U.S.S. Maine explosion in 1898. It blew on February 15, 1898, killing 260 American sailors. The cause remains a mystery but people at that time blamed Spain, leading to the US to declare war on Spain.

Now time for a few epitaphs:

“I Told You I Was Sick”
B.P. Roberts
May 17, 1929-June 18, 1979

“Her Life Was a Beautiful Morning”
Minnie Elizabeth Otto
March 28, 1868-September 14, 1945

“If You’re Reading This, You Desperately Need A Hobby
Alan Dale Willcox

“I’m Just Resting My Eyes”
Gloria M. Russell
May 22, 1926-December 27, 2000

“Devoted Fan of Singer Julio Iglesias”
Edwina Lariz
I saw this grave and this inscription when I went to Key West in 2005, but visitors can no longer see the epitaph. I did a little checking and learned that when Edwina’s son, Harry Domingo Lariz Jr., died in 2013, the epitaph was covered. Harry’s etched plaque was cemented over it (see photo below). I’m not sure why. Perhaps the family didn’t care for Iglesias, or maybe they got tired of people asking about the grave.

gen abe sawyar fag sheryl

gen abe sawyer fag Donna Jean Robinson
General Abe Sawyer, who traveled with circus sideshows, was 40 inches tall but buried in a full-size grave. (Donna Jean Robinson/FindaGrave.com)
A detail of B.P. Robert’s grave, which says “I Told You I Was Sick.” (Thomas Watkins/FindaGrave.com)
roberts fag thomaswatkins
The mausoleum with two interesting epitaphs: B.P. Roberts with “I Told You I Was Sick,” and Gloria M. Russell with “I’m Just Resting My Eyes.” (Thomas Watkins/FindaGrave.com)
russell fag candice xo
The plaque on the grave of Gloria Russell that says, “I’m Just Resting My Eyes.) (Candice xo/FindaGrave.com)
otto fag keywester
The grave of Minnie Elizabeth Otto is inscribed “Her Life Was a Beautiful Morning.” (Keywester/FindaGrave.com)
willcox key west
The grave of Alan Dale Willcox bears the epitaph: “If You’re Reading This, You Desperately Need A Hobby.” (Donna McCurley-Thiel/FindaGrave.com)
edwina lariz
The grave of Edwina Lariz. An inscription on her grave – “Devoted fan of singer Julio Iglesias – was covered by a plaque when her son died.

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