I’m still outside at Sparkman/Hillcrest Memorial Park in Dallas, Texas. Not in the mausoleum yet. I’ll go in there in Part III. There’s still a few stops I need to make outside.
Sparkman/Hillcress has dozens of little grottoes surrounded by shrubbery that contain family plots, enabling a sense of privacy. I imagine these are comparably more expensive as well.
One of these grottoes contains the grave of a famous actress whom I had not expected to encounter in a Dallas cemetery when I did my initial research. I’m speaking of British-born actress Greer Garson.
Late Start to a Dazzling Career
Born on Sept. 29, 1904 in Manor Park, England, Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson was the only child of Nina Greer Garson and George Garson. The name Greer is a contraction of MacGregor, another family name. She attended King’s College in London and did post-graduate studies at the University of Grenoble in France where she earned degrees in French and 18th-century literature.
I was surprised to learn that due to her devotion to her studies, Garson’s acting experiences didn’t come until her late 20s. Her early professional appearances were on stage, starting at the Birmingham Repertory Theater in January 1932, when she was 27 years old.
Garson was signed to a contract with MGM in 1937, but didn’t start work on her first film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, until late 1938. She received her first Oscar nomination for the role but lost to Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind. She received critical acclaim the next year for her role as Elizabeth Bennett in the 1940 film Pride and Prejudice.
Garson received a record seven Academy Award nominations and starred in six Best Picture nominees, most often paired with actor Walter Pidgeon. She is best known for the 1942 movie for which she won her only Academy Award, Mrs. Miniver. Her acceptance speech clocked in at five minutes and 30 seconds, the longest Oscar acceptance speech according to the Guinness Book of World Records and led to the Academy instilling a time limit.
Third Time’s the Charm
Garson was married three times. Actor Peter Lawford introduced Garson to her third husband, millionaire Texas oilman and horse breeder E.E. “Buddy” Fogelson, when she was starring with Lawford in the 1948 movie Julia Misbehaves. The couple married in 1949.
After her MGM contract expired in 1954, Garson only made a handful of films. In 1967, the couple retired to their Forked Lightning Ranch in New Mexico. They purchased the U.S. Hall of Fame champion thoroughbred Ack Ack from the estate of Harry F. Guggenheim in 1971 and were successful as breeders.
The Fogelsons maintained a home in Dallas, where Garson funded the Greer Garson Theater facility at Southern Methodist University (SMU). She founded a permanent endowment for the Fogelson Honors Forum at Texas Christian University (TCU), Buddy’s alma mater, in nearby Fort Worth.
Buddy passed away in 1987 after suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for five years. Garson lived her final years in a penthouse suite at the Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, where she died from heart failure on April 6, 1996 at the age of 91.
Located near the front of the Sparkman/Hillcrest mausoleum is a small unpretentious marker you might not normally notice. But the man it was made for had a place in Dallas history not once but twice.
Henry Menasco Wade, one of 11 children, was born outside Dallas on Nov. 11, 1914. Shortly after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 1939, Wade joined the FBI as a special agent investigating espionage cases along the East Coast and in South America. During World War II, Wade served in the U.S. Navy, taking part in the invasions of the Philippines and Okinawa.
Man of the Court
In 1947, Wade joined the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. He won election to the top job only four years later, a position he would hold for 36 years until his retirement in 1987. But it was in 1964 that he was thrust into the spotlight after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated just blocks from Wade’s office in the Dallas County Courthouse.
Wade lost the opportunity to try Lee Harvey Oswald for Kennedy’s murder when nightclub operator Jack Ruby shot Oswald only two days later. But Wade became known nationally for prosecuting Ruby for Oswald’s murder. Wade closely supervised the Ruby trial but appointed his assistan William Alexander to conduct the courtroom proceedings.
Wade and Alexander confronted Ruby’s lawyers, famed trial lawyer Melvin Belli and Texas counsellor Joe Tonahill, in a lengthy trial that concluded on March 14, 1964, with a verdict for Ruby of “guilty of murder with malice.”
The Wade in Roe v. Wade
Wade, as Dallas County District Attorney, was the named defendant when attorneys Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee mounted a 1970 constitutional challenge to the Texas criminal statutes prohibiting doctors from performing abortions. Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe”), a single woman, was signed up as the representative plaintiff.
The challenge sought both a declaratory judgment that the Texas criminal abortion statutes were unconstitutional on their face and an injunction restraining the defendant from enforcing the statutes. The lower court refused to grant Roe’s desired injunction but declared the criminal abortion statutes were void.
Both sides cross-appealed. The case worked its way through the appellate process, culminating in the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal in the United States.
Despite the loss of Roe v. Wade, Wade’s political career did not suffer. He continued to serve in office for an additional 14 years. In 1995, the Henry Wade Juvenile Justice Center was named in his honor. In 2000, shortly before his death from Parkinson’s Disease, Texas Lawyer magazine named him as one of the most influential lawyers of the 20th century.
The last person I’m going to feature outside at Sparkman/Hillcrest has a name you’re likely already familiar with but not the person behind it.
Man With a Sparkle
Born on September 5, 1901 in Shereshov, Russia, Morris Bernard Zale came to America as a child in 1908. In 1910, the family settled in Fort Worth, Texas. Due to financial difficulties, Zale dropped out of school following completion of the seventh grade.
Zale was introduced to the jewelry business by his uncle, Sam Kruger. In 1920, Zale managed Kruger Jewelry Store in Burkburnett before opening his own business in Graham in 1922. Two years later, Zale rejoined his uncle’s store in Wichita Falls, Texas. He became a partner with his uncle in the Zale Jewelry Corporation in 1924, opening the first Zales store at the corner of Eighth and Ohio.
In 1925, Zale married Edna Lipshy. He and his brother-in-law Ben built the business together. They decided to go against the popular cash-only policy of jewelry retailing, offering credit to working-class customers and allowing payment in installments.
Following World War II, massive expansion took place, ultimately making Zales the world’s largest retail jeweler. Zales Jewelers moved its headquarters from Wichita Falls to Dallas in 1946. In 1957, Zales Jewelers opened its first store in a shopping center, a major shift from operating only in downtown locations.
Morris Zale was also known for his philanthropy, financing an orphanage for young war victims in 1947 in Europe and supporting it for four decades. He started the Zale Foundation in 1951, which supported numerous charities and educational activities.
Zale gave up the company presidency to his brother-in-law Ben Lipshy in 1957 but continued to serve as chairman of the board of directors. Zale retired as chairman of the company in 1971.
Zale died on March 8, 1995 at the age of 93 due to complications from pneumonia. Edna passed away on Dec. 28, 1996 from bone cancer. Although she was very active in charitable activities, she preferred to let her husband and son, Donald, have the spotlight.
The Zales are buried beside their son Herschel, who died at the age of three in 1930 from a childhood illness.
Next time, I’ll be in the mausoleum at Sparkman/Hillcrest.