He Built So That Others Could Rest in Peace


“The cemeteries of today are wrong, because they depict an end, not a beginning. . . . I shall endeavor to build Forest Lawn as different, as unlike other cemeteries as sunshine is unlike darkness, as Eternal Life is unlike death.”

Thus spake The Builder on Jan. 1, 1917, solemn words that remain today, carved into a two-story slab of stone outside the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale.

The author--The Builder--was Dr. Hubert Eaton, a mining engineer from Missouri whose acquisition of a decrepit Southern California burial ground helped revolutionize the funeral industry and created what are arguably the world’s most famous cemeteries.


Known to the public as the inspiration for Evelyn Waugh’s biting 1948 satire, “The Loved One,” and the final resting place of celebrities such as George Burns, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Walt Disney, Bette Davis, Liberace, Ozzie Nelson and Stan Laurel, the five-cemetery chain made its greatest impact with the advent of “pre-need” sales--funeral arrangements made before death.

Just as Eaton envisioned 80 years ago, the two San Fernando Valley-area memorial parks, Glendale and Hollywood Hills, are peaceful landscapes of rolling hills dotted with classical statuary and flat, discreet gravestones, devoid of the “misshapen monuments and other customary signs of earthly death” he decried in his creed.

The Builder? He joined the Glendale cemetery-- permanently--in 1966.