The most splendid, consistent, thematically coherent, and vibrantly alive tombstones I have ever seen are those erected by the extended Marks family in the Oakwood Cemetery of Falls Church. They are large and summon forth an astonishing array of images from their lives. Have a look:

Nick Marks tombstone. Photo: author.

Nick Marks was a musician: there’s his Gibson up there with his name on it. Any lingering doubts are allayed by the etched photograph of a 45 RPM single with his name on the label. In fact, you can hear Nick play his song “Rubies and Pearls” on YouTube.

Walter Marks tombstone. Photo: author.

Walter Marks, who I’m glad to say was still alive when I took this photo (2018), has adopted a more conventional religious approach to commemoration. I’ve not seen those little auxiliary plaques before in an American context. The etched “before and after” photos are a nice touch.

Ricky Marks tombstone. Photo: author.

Ricky, I’m sorry to say, is gone. But what a great set of images chosen by (I presume) Eda to remember him by! Framed by engaged plinths supporting transparent balls, we see that Ricky was a golfer, and that Eda takes her religion seriously. The palm trees seem to allude, as on Nick’s tombstone, to some tropical vacation place. Underneath Eda’s picture waves seem to break on a palm-lined shore. Nick and Eda evidently took a memorable cruise, perhaps to a palm tree place, and somehow aces of diamonds and hearts come into it.

Steve Marks tombstone. Photo: author.

Steve, like Ricky, died far too soon, as did Tina. But before he left he evidently went on a PGA tour. He is depicted in an absolutely splendid image at top looking up from the green of an (again) palm lined golf course. Am I wrong to see this as him waving at us from a distant heavenly green?

Steve Marks tombstone. Detail. Photo: author.

Last but not least, there is the stone of the Cougatch-Marks family:

Cougatch-Marks tombstone. Photo: author.

Zorke Marks is still alive, or was in 2018. Steve Cougatch had departed, but the family business would seem to be commemorated in the jeweler’s anvil and hammer and the pawn balls on the left. In decades of hunting the byways of cemeteries I have never before seen money engraved on a tombstone! The hundred dollar bill seems to give life to the nickname “The Big Hustler.” “Common Sense and Logic Was His Way of Life” is a good epitaph for any human. No palm trees here, but the sharp-eyed will have seen the same 2 Corinthians 8:5 quotation on Nick’s stone (rightly cited there as 5:8, however).

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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2 Comments

  1. Something decidedly Roman about those icons of their profession (pawn balls, hammer) and the C-note, sign of prosperity, ingenuity (Ben Franklin) and good luck! It’s interesting how this family achieves great variation within the same general shape of monument.

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