A Mother-in-Law Story

Emperor Ernie K-Doe is buried in St. Louis # 2 Cemetery, in a tomb that is almost two hundred years old. How this came to be Ernie's final resting place is an interesting story.

I'll begin my tale by telling you about Anna Ross Twichell. Anna Ross is an active member of the Friends of New Orleans Cemeteries. Like many FNOC members, she has an intense devotion to preservation and renovation of New Orleans' most historic cemeteries, St. Louis # 1 and St. Louis # 2. As a tour guide, Anna Ross continually sees first hand how necessary it is that our community takes action to ensure that these important relics be preserved. She also use to own the Duval tomb in St. Louis # 2 that her husband's family gave them for their wedding present ... so this really is a Mother-in-law story ... because this is the tomb where Ernie is buried.

A few years ago, after 20 years of marriage, Anna Ross and her husband decided to separate. When discussing their possessions, they decided to give the tomb to their only child rather than list it as part of their community property. Their daughter, Heather Twichell, is now the owner of the tomb.

When Anna Ross learned of Ernie K-Doe's death, she went to the Mother-in-law Lounge to offer condolences and assistance to his widow Antoinette. She learned that one of the many questions facing Antoinette was not knowing where she would bury Ernie. Antoinette told her that one of Ernie's wishes was to be buried in St. Louis Cemetery. Anna Ross told Antoinette about the tomb and said that she would ask Heather for permission to use it. Heather, also a musician, was delighted to offer the top space in her tomb, and even volunteered to have it permanently sealed. Since Louisiana is the only state that has reburial rights, sealing the entrance would be an important guarantee to assure Antoinette that no one would later disturb Ernie's remains.

There were however, several complications. Anna Ross could not find the deed for the tomb. When I called to offer thanks for her generosity, she was desperately searching her attic for the document. She had a copy of the deed, but the Archdiocese had said that they would not accept it. Anna Ross later went to search the records at the Archdiocese, where they synchronistically happened upon a photo of her presenting a FNOC 2000 Gravey Award to Monsignor Woods. It was at that point that the Diocese became helpful.

The next complication was the time factor. Rhodes Funeral Home had to open the tomb before 9 am the next morning to measure the internal dimensions so they could place an order to have a casket handmade by the only local casket manufacturer in New Orleans. Cofco, a family operated business formally known as Shirer Casket Company, has been in business more than one hundred years. The odd shape of the older tomb, one much smaller than most tombs, mandated that the casket be no larger than 27" wide and 22" tall in the center. Due to the arched ceiling of the tomb, the casket could only have a 16" height on each side.

Then they realized that the tomb had been orally given to Heather, but had not been legally signed over to her. Anna Ross called Heather's father to see if he could go to Rhodes Funeral Home in the morning to sign the official papers, but he was unfortunately not available. Joan Rhodes then contacted her attorney, who took the legal steps necessary to enable them to open the tomb in a timely fashion. In addition, Heather's father would not be able to sign transfer papers later that day because he and Anna Ross were scheduled to appear in court for their divorce proceedings that very afternoon!!!

Ironically, the morning of Ernie's funeral, Anna Ross opened her lingerie drawer and found the deed to the tomb.

But the best part of this story is the recent history of this tomb. For the past three years we have had big parties at the tomb in celebration of All Saints Day, serving gumbo, wine and cheese. What better place could Ernie be interred, than a tomb only a few blocks from his beloved Mother-in-law Lounge, a resting place where people already have celebrated … and Lord knows, Ernie K-Doe loved to celebrate.

Don't forget to come, All Saints Day 2002, to pay respects to our beloved Ernie at St. Louis # 2, # 2 (middle square) You could also walk a few steps to the Barbarin tomb to pay your respects to Danny and Blue Lu Barker.

Long Live the Memories of our Musical Legends!
All Hail our Emperor!!

The Story: The Wake The Funeral The Mother-in-Law Story Accolades
The Wake The Service The Procession St Louis Cemetery #2
Mother-in-Law Lounge The Repast at Rock 'n Bowl The Album

© 2001 Pat Jolly
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