Permanent residents: A few notables buried in the Twin Cities

Tiny Tim spent his last year, and now eternity, in Minnesota.
Courtesy of Rhino Handmade
Tiny Tim spent his last year, and now eternity, in Minnesota.

Quite a few years ago, I met my mother and a friend of hers for lunch at the Women’s Club of Minneapolis, near Loring Park. We sat outside on the narrow balcony and ate, and after a while, I mentioned that I had always wanted to visit the Women’s Club, because that’s where the entertainer Tiny Tim died.

“Oh yes,” my mother’s friend said. “I killed him.”

I leaned forward. “Tell me the story,” I said.

She told me that she had seen Tiny Tim at a gala benefit the Women’s Club had thrown in 1996 and noticed that the performer had his ukulele with him. She went up to him and asked him if he wouldn’t mind playing a few songs, and he said he would be happy to. He stood before the assembled guests and played a medley of popular standard from the ’20s and ’30s, culminating in his signature song, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” As he played this, according to my mother’s friend, he turned pale and, shortly after completing it, collapsed. He was rushed to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where doctors attempted to resuscitate him for an hour and a half before declaring him dead. “But I saw him when they took him away,” my mother’s friend told me. “He was already dead.”

She then told me that whenever she is watching television with her husband, and Tiny Tim is mentioned or footage of the singer is shown, her husband turns to her and says, “Oh, there’s that guy you killed.”

And so it is that New York native Herbert Khaury, better known to the world as Tiny Tim, took up permanent residence in the Twin Cities, in the mausoleum in Lakewood Cemetery (3600 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis).

People have been dying in the Twin Cities as long as they have been living here, dating back to about the Last Glacial Period, at least 15,000 years ago. So, naturally, Tiny Tim isn’t the only interesting person to have made his way into Twin Cities cemeteries. Here is a small sampling of other permanent Twin Cities residents:

John Berryman (Resurrection Cemetery, 2101 Lexington Ave. S., Mendota Heights, section 60, block 34, grave 107): Poet John Berryman won the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry cycle “77 Dream Songs.” He had come to Minneapolis in 1955 to teach at the University of Minnesota; incidentally, Berryman’s father, whose suicide haunted the poet’s writing, hailed from Minneapolis. Berryman wrote most of his “Dream Songs” here, but also struggled with depression and alcoholism. Berryman committed suicide in 1972 by throwing himself off the Washington Avenue Bridge.

Callum L. de Vellier (Lakewood Cemetery, 3600 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, Plot: Section 11, lot 1072): There’s not much information out there about Mr. de Vellier, who died in 1973, but his gravestone hints at a hell of a story. “World champion marathon dancer,” it informs us. “3780 continuous hours.” If that’s right, it means Mr. de Vellier danced continuously for more than 157 days. This accomplishment is even more remarkable when you consider that dance marathons were illegal in many states because of the 1923 death of Homer Moorehouse, who died after dancing for a mere 87 hours.

Andrew J. Myrick (Oakland Cemetery, 927 Jackson St., St. Paul, block 3, lot 51): You would think that after Marie Antoinette reportedly got an unexpected hair trim upon uttering, “Let them eat cake,” people would be cautious with “let them eat” comments. Not so Lower Sioux Agency trader Andrew J. Myrick, who refused to extend credit to American Indians who were waiting on late payments from the U.S. government. “So far as I am concerned,” Myrick said, “if they are hungry, let them eat grass or their own dung.” This comment is supposed to have helped instigate the Dakota War of 1862, and Myrick lost his life in it. His body was found with grass stuffed in his mouth.

Hedvig “Sammy” Samuelson (Crystal Lake Cemetery, 3816 Penn Ave. N., Minneapolis, section N-A-15, lot 11, grave 11): This young North Dakota native wound up in Minneapolis after her death, thanks to family she had here, but before she was buried, Hedvig “Sammy” Samuelson took quite a trip. She ended her life in Phoenix, where she had moved when she contracted tuberculosis. She was shot to death in 1931, along with her friend Agnes Anne LeRoi, after a dinner party with friend Winnie Ruth Judd went horribly, and inexplicably, wrong. (Both other women, incidentally, also suffered TB.) Judd consulted her boyfriend, who is thought to be the source of the argument, and he suggested the best course of action would be to stuff her friends’ bodies into suitcases and head for Los Angeles. LeRoi fit nicely into a steamer trunk, but poor Sammy Samuelson wouldn’t fit into the remaining suitcases, and so the boyfriend dismembered her. En route to L.A., the bags began to leak and emit a terrible odor, leading to Judd’s arrest and commitment to a psychiatric hospital, from which she escaped seven times. Samuelson was committed to the Crystal Lake Cemetery, from which, to the best of our knowledge, she has yet to escape.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Bruce Arnold on 10/10/2011 - 07:46 am.

    Working for Minneapolis Granite and Marble in the 1970’s, I engraved this monument and headstone for Mr. deVillier, it was designed by Carl Stanek, it was the most interesting and beautiful monument that I engraved. There is a picture of it at this link:

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