Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was laid to rest at Congressional Cemetery in Southeast over the weekend, becoming the 11th D.C. mayor buried there — albeit the first who was elected under the city’s current form of government.
Barry joined a roster of historical figures buried in the 207-year-old cemetery, including former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and gay Vietnam veteran and activist Leonard Matlovich.
“We think it’s an honor to have him interred here,” said cemetery president Paul Williams.
The private burial occurred Saturday, after thousands attended a four-hour memorial service at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered the eulogy.
Although Congressional is the final resting place for more than 60,000 people, it has recently become better known for the events hosted there like 5K runs and dog play days. But the lively activities hosted amid the historic tombstones have been a selling point for some who have recently purchased burial plots there.
Mr. Williams said he wasn’t privy to why Barry chose Congressional Cemetery as his final resting place. He said the former four-term mayor and D.C. Council member visited the cemetery in 2012 and selected the area where he wanted to be buried, including the information in his directives.
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Despite it’s name, Congressional isn’t a cemetery reserved for politicians, though numerous congressmen and local political leaders are buried there.
The 10 city mayors already buried at Congressional all held office in the 19th century, before the city of Washington was combined with Georgetown and unincorporated land in 1871 to be overseen under one single structure of government. The mayors include: Daniel Rapine, Benjamin Grayson Orr, Samuel N. Smallwood, Roger Chew Weightman, Joseph Gales, William W. Seaton, John Walker Maury, John Thomas Towers, James G. Berret and Sayles Bowen.
Based on the crowds of people who came out to pay respects and say goodbye to the former mayor, Mr. Williams expects there will be others who want to pay a visit to the gravesite.
Mr. Williams cautioned the grave will be unmarked until the family chooses a gravestone. Until then, cemetery staff will try to direct anyone who wants to visit.
“I think we’ll have to alter a lot of our tour brochures and such to let people know there’s another famous person,” Mr. Williams said.
Because Congressional Cemetery has so many famous “residents,” the graveyard offers tours and other events to tout the history of the people buried there.
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Barry is sure to be in demand.