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Lee Harvey Oswald’s Grave & the Mysterious Nick Beef

The following is an adapted excerpt from Unexpected Texas, my fun travel guide to quirky, offbeat and overlooked places near Dallas and Fort Worth. Check it out if you enjoy learning quirky facts, or are looking for offbeat road trip ideas in north Texas.

Lee Harvey Oswald Buried in Fort Worth, Texas

Oswald's mom wanted him buried in Arlington National Cemetery
Oswald’s mom wanted him buried in Arlington National Cemetery

Although his mother, Marguerite, requested for her son be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Lee Harvey Oswald’s final resting place is Shannon Rose Hill Cemetery in Fort Worth, Texas.

Officials didn’t waste any time putting the infamous lone gunman into the ground, either:

November 23, 1963 at 1:50 p.m.
Oswald arrested for killing President John F. Kennedy.

November 24, 1963 at 11:21 a.m.
Dallas nightclub owner, Jack Ruby, shot and killed Oswald.

November 25, 1963 at 4:28 p.m.
Oswald buried in Fort Worth. (John F. Kennedy was buried the same day, but unlike Oswald, he was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.)

Lee Harvey Oswald is buried in Fort Worth, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Lee Harvey Oswald is buried in Fort Worth, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Oswald’s Secretive Funeral

Lee Harvey Oswald was shot and killed in Dallas, but no cemetery there would claim him. After word leaked that his body had been transferred to Miller’s Funeral Home in Fort Worth, a crowd gathered outside.

Fearing violence, officials secretly arranged Oswald’s burial in Shannon Rose Hill Cemetery. To avoid publicity, these preparations were made using a pseudonym so that gravediggers wouldn’t spill the beans.

Reporters for Pall Bearers

Finding pall bearers was a bit tricky. Due to the extreme secrecy surrounding Oswald’s hastily arranged funeral, the only people present besides the assassin’s immediate family were federal agents, police, and a crowd of reporters who had been tipped off and were covering the story. This is why members of the press wound up carrying Lee Harvey Oswald’s coffin to his burial plot. (One of these reporters has since written an excellent account of his experience in this article: I was a Pall Bearer for Lee Harvey Oswald)

Reporters served as Oswald's pall bearers
The Fort Worth Press noted that news reporters were Oswald’s pall bearers

A minister from the Fort Worth Council of Churches named Louis Saunders was another last minute addition. Of this event, Reverend Saunders is quoted in the Fort Worth Press as saying that he had, “no more than 20 seconds” to prepare his eulogy.

There is nothing fancy about Lee Harvey Oswald’s headstone, either. His grave is marked by a small rectangular slab that is flush to the ground. It bears no dates or other information, not even the man’s full name. The stone simply reads, “Oswald.”

Look for this mausoleum to find Oswald's grave (photo by Tui Snider)
Look for this mausoleum to find Oswald’s grave (photo by Tui Snider)

Directions to Oswald’s grave

Officials at Shannon Rose Hill Cemetery (7301 East Lancaster, Fort Worth, TX 76112) no longer give directions to any of their interments, but Oswald’s grave is easy to find if you know what to look for. For one thing, the graveyard is divided into sections, and these sections are marked by stenciled labels on the curb.

As you drive west, keep an eye out for the section labeled “Sunset 18.” Once there, look for a mausoleum marked Shannon, which is in a roundabout in the middle of the road. Oswald’s marker is not far from the road. It’s to the left of the Shannon mausoleum, and to the right of a large tree. (Just so you know, Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother, Marguerite, is buried in an unmarked grave beside him.)

Oswald's grave has a mysterious companion (photo by Tui Snider)
Oswald’s grave has a mysterious companion (photo by Tui Snider)

Mysterious Grave Beside Oswald

In 1997, a new grave marker mysteriously appeared next to Lee Harvey Oswald’s. Not only is it the same size and shape as Oswald’s, but like his, this marker is not inscribed with any dates or information beyond a name, “Nick Beef.”

Up until then, the tangled web of conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination bore no mention of a man by this name. When people looked into the matter, they were unable to learn much about the mysterious Mr. Beef’s life, death, or any possible connections to Lee Harvey Oswald. The story I ran across the most claims that two local reporters (or historians, depending on the version) placed the Nick Beef marker beside Oswald’s so that visitors could find it more easily.

Nick Beef's identity was recently revealed (photo by Tui Snider)
Nick Beef’s identity was recently revealed (photo by Tui Snider)

Who is Nick Beef?

Even if this were true, it still begs the question: Who is Nick Beef? In 2013 the New York Times got to the bottom of things by tracking down and interviewing the mysterious Nick Beef who, it turns out, is alive and well. (Full article here.)

Nick Beef is the alter ego of a man named Patric Abedin, who describes himself as a writer and “nonperforming performance artist.” Mr. Abedin grew up in Texas. He was in elementary school when Kennedy was shot, and has vivid memories of seeing the president and First Lady when they arrived at the airport in 1963. As a kid, he and his mother often dropped by Oswald’s grave.

In 1975, Abedin heard the plot beside Oswald’s was unclaimed, so he dropped by the cemetery and purchased it for himself. He then moved to New York, got married, had kids, found work as a humor writer, and made a life for himself there.

When Mr. Abedin’s mother passed away in late 1996, he returned to Texas for the memorial. That’s when, on a whim, he purchased the grave marker. Not wanting to expose his kids to any inquiries, he had the little stone inscribed with his pen name, “Nick Beef,” instead of his given name.

When the interviewer asked why he had purchased the plot, and later the marker, Abedin was rather cryptic. In both cases, it was an impulse buy, one with motives that are not only difficult for him to verbalize, but seem to be a mystery even to himself. To cap it off, Mr. Abedin has no plans to be buried there. When his time comes, he wants to be cremated.

So… this means that to the left of Lee Harvey Oswald lies the unmarked grave of his mother, Marguerite, while to the right lies the headstone for a performance artist’s alter ego.

Strange, eh?

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Published inCemeteries & SymbolismHistoric Cemeteries

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