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Oakwood Cemetery Monuments Tell Stories Of Texas Governors

March 15, 2011

Pat Neff

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Beyond the gates of Oakwood Cemetery lies a sort of history book. Names, dates, and dashes that represent the years lived on earth by the people buried there are part of the story. But behind those simple inscriptions lie thousands of stories. Some of those monuments attract the eye for their size or design. Three of them belong to former governors of the state of Texas.

David Evans, superintendent of Oakwood, is proud to point out the plots of land that serve as the final resting home to three men who served as chief executive of the Lone Star State and spent many of their days here in Waco. The first is perhaps the least well-known. But while Richard Coke may not be a household name, the monument of the two-time governor and three-term U.S. senator attracts the eye and has a compelling story behind it.

Further into the cemetery lies a Texas Ranger, confederate general, and former president of Texas A & M. And this well known former Texas governor rests under a monument that is one of the most photographed spots in Waco.

The last governor buried at Oakwood has a striking monument both inside and outside of the cemetery gates. If you haven't heard his name, you've probably seen his building. The golden domed building that is perhaps the signature image of Baylor University bears his name. Pat Neff Hall is named after the governor who also served as Baylor president.

Neff's monument resembles a large capitol building, with wings on the side and a large tower in the middle, the last of three markers for men who helped Texas become what it is today. You can see pictures and last week's story on Oakwood Cemetery at kwbu.org. In next week's story on Oakwood, KWBU focuses on individuals whose names or products are synonymous with Waco. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.

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