Our World – Tulsa Legends at Memorial Park Cemetery

As part of a solving a geocaching puzzle I had the opportunity to view some of the famous people buried at Tulsa’s Memorial Park Cemetery. It was really kind of interesting so who was buried there.


Firsts up is Roy Clark. Those of a certain age, remember him in the television weekly comedy music show Hee Haw back in the 70’s. He was a great performer and projected a warmth while performing. He had hits on both the country and pop charts and was known as a great musician. He didn’t grow up in Tulsa but he called Tulsa home.


And then Bob Wills, the godfather of everything musical in Tulsa and a co-founder of country swing music.

Cain's Ballroom 1

He played for years at Cain’s Ballroom here in Tulsa which is still a music hall with quite a full schedule. His ghost is said to reside there.


Leon Russell had the most elaborate monument and had coins, rocks, and other mementos from his fans on the front. (Roy Clark had coins on the back ledge of his monument for some reason.) He was active for over 60 years. Elton John called him a mentor. He was enrolled in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

He played with Frank Sinatra, Eric Clapton, and others he is a legend.


Underneath one of the benches at his grave site sits a hat like the ones he used to wear.


And Sam Kinison. He was one mixed up dude. Lots of talent and very outrageous. Watch the following video at your own risk!

Strangely enough he started out in life as a Pentecostal Preacher and had to quit because he wasn’t making enough money. He went into comedy and got several big breaks.


Oral Roberts, the father of the “Name it, Claim it” Prosperity Gospel is buried in a common grave next to his wife.


He might be the most recognized preacher in history. He was an innovator in several fronts, with his prosperity gospel, tele-evangelism, and was founder of Oral Roberts University which is still going on although they separated from the family years ago. He was a character.

His life and ministry is still a conundrum to me. On the one hand he appears to have been a bit of a huckster. On the other hand, his University has done a lot of good. He was colorful, I’ll give you that.

And so that concludes my tour of the Cemetery. I love cemeteries. I google names on the tombstones and you would be surprised how much information is available. For instance I saw a gravestone for a man and wife and it just had birth dates and no end dates. I googled the names and found out that yes, they died but are buried in another cemetery. I am not going to name them because it happened pretty recently and I think I am friends with one of their offspring. So what’s the deal, why would somebody order a double gravestone in advance of the need and have it installed?


This last guy is my favorite. Waymon Tisdale was a basketball player who played at the University of Oklahoma and later in the NBA. He quit basketball after twelve years in the NBA to concentrate on his first love, music. He played bass guitar in a smooth jazz band that he led. My wife and I used to go to a Jazz Festival here in Tulsa where Tisdale frequently played and he radiated such a friendliness and warmth from the stage and was totally approachable and well grounded.

He and his family lived in a house not far from where we lived at the time. In fact I would go running by his house in the early morning and it was pretty cool. They had young kids and a huge play area for them. It was nice but not superstar gazillionaire nice. His diagnosis with cancer and subsequent early death was a huge tragedy. I still don’t get how somebody so alive can be so dead.

Sorry, I didn’t intend for this to be so long but here it is. It could have been longer, especially if I had elaborated on some of the more entertaining tales of Oral Roberts.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

10 thoughts on “Our World – Tulsa Legends at Memorial Park Cemetery

  1. Ellen

    I’m surprised that Oral Roberts has such a simple grave marker and the grave doesn’t look like it’s even tended very well. I don’t plan on having a grave marker–I just want to be sprinkled in Yellowstone and the Tetons (which is perfectly legal). Remember how mom loved Heehaw? I can remember watching it every week.

  2. Eileen Wise

    Hello, I do remember Roy Clark. I would have to say Leon Russell is one of my favorites out of the names listed. The memorial and grave markers are all beautiful. Wishing you a happy day and a great new week!

  3. Driller's Place

    I was just a child when Bob Wills was still playing at Cain’s. I believe they even did a Saturday morning radio show from there. While I was not a country music fan at the time there was no denying Roy Clark’s amazing talent. As a 20 something I can remember several clubs around Tulsa where Leon would just show up and sit in with the house band for a while. I think he just liked those smaller venues where he could play whatever he wanted for the home folks. Waymon Tisdale always seemed to be joyful. I don’t know of many people who can bring a smile to your face just by the mention of his name. I lived in Tulsa through the Oral Roberts years and with all due respect, I believe his “Name it & Claim it” did more harm than good. It eventually brought the whole family down. I am sure Joel Osteen considers Oral a mentor. Several years ago I attended a funeral service in Grove, OK. and discovered that Bonnie & Clyde are buried in a cemetery not far from town. Great post Yogi.

  4. Alana

    I grew up in walking distance of a famous cemetery in the Bronx (although I never visited it) so maybe that’s why I will visit cemetaries when I travel. I’ve been to Bonaventure Cemetery (near Savannah) twice (of Garden of Good and Evil game) and that has the grave of musician Johnny Mercer. You can sit on a bench at the grave if you want. I loved Leon Russell’s grave. It is beautiful.

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