Taft’s Gravestone Revisted

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

The elegant 14 and a half foot tall Stony Creek granite monument designed by James Earl Frazer marks the graves of United States President William Howard Taft and his wife and First Lady, Helen Herron Taft.  Gold lettering states their names on the marker.

The stele, a stone or wooden slab generally taller than it is wide and designed as a funeral commemorative, dates back many centuries and is one of the oldest forms of gravestones.  Many examples of steles can be found in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens including one that looks remarkably similar to the grave marker designed for President Taft and his wife.


The Greek Stele found in the museum was created for Daisios, son of Euthias on the east coast of Attica in Southern Greece.  The stele dates to the middle of the 4th Century B.C. and has two rosettes on the shaft and is topped with an acroterion motif just as is the Taft monument.  The acroterion motif is a stylized palm leaf, which can be found on classical Roman and Greek architecture.  The word acroterion comes from the Greek meaning summit.  This motif has its origins in Egyptian art and architecture.

Taft was born into a prominent family of Ohio politicians, and was an accomplished public servant who honorably served the country for over 50 years; the only person in American history to serve in the two most powerful positions in the United States government, as president and as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

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1 Response to Taft’s Gravestone Revisted

  1. Loren Rhoads says:

    Thanks for your clear definition of stele. I’ve been wondering about those.

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