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Finding Minnesota: Famous Names at Lakewood Cemetery

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(credit: CBS) Mike Binkley
Mike Binkley has been covering Minnesota news for more than 25 year...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Memorial Day may be the only time of year that many of us will visit grave sites.

Cemeteries, naturally, represent death to most people, but others are fascinated by the lives they represent and the stories of those who had a significant impact.

Lakewood Cemetery
, overlooking Lake Calhoun, is the final resting place for many key figures from Minnesota’s past, including Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Sen. Paul Wellstone and several former governors, from Pillsbury to Perpich.

It’s 250 acres of Minnesota stories, featuring names known for their leadership and business success, including banker Carl Pohlad, owner of the Minnesota Twins, and Marv Wolfenson, one of the original owners of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In a few cases, you’ll find names with a more unusual type of fame, such as Herbert B. Khaury, better known as Tiny Tim, the singer known for his falsetto version of Tiptoe Through The Tulips.

Khaury is entombed in one of Lakewood’s mausoleums. There are several private mausoleums there as well.

The man responsible for the Milky Way candy bar, Franklin Mars, got his start in Minneapolis. Years after his death, his family decided to move his mausoleum from Tennessee to Lakewood Cemetery.

“So the founder of Mars candy bars and many of his family members are actually entombed here at Lakewood in the Mars mausoleum,” said Ron Gjerde, president of the Lakewood Cemetery Association.

The man whose Nordic Ware company invented the bundt cake pan, H. David Dalquist, is also buried at Lakewood.

The wide variety of architecture attracts many visitors, including the Lakewood Mortuary Chapel, dedicated in 1910.

“It’s one of the most perfect examples of Byzantine and Mosaic architecture in the country,” said Gjerde. “The interior is completely lined in hand-laid mosaic tiles, each no larger than your fingernail on your little finger.”

The family of Governor Rudy Perpich commissioned a soaring sculpture for his gravesite.

“And it really is stainless steel with Lola and Rudy supporting each other as they did in real life,” Gjerde said.

Senator Paul Wellstone’s family opted for a granite boulder from Morton, Minnesota.

And one of the great tragedies in Minneapolis history – the explosion at the Washburn A Mill – has its own classic monument at Lakewood.

“It was erected in 1885 by the Minneapolis head millers association, in memory of those who lost their lives in the great mill explosion on May 2nd, 1878,” said Gjerde.

It’s a reminder of where the state has been, and the people who made it what it is today.

“Lakewood has a self-guided tour brochure that will help guide people through,” Gjerde said. “People shouldn’t shy away. We’re very welcoming here at Lakewood.”

Because of its location, some burial sites at Lakewood sell for well into the six figures, but there are some available for a few thousand dollars.

This year, for Memorial Day, Lakewood will have a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One.

Send us your Finding Minnesota ideas here.

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