The Egyptian-style Dodge mausoleum in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery is the resting place of Dodge co-founders and brothers John Francis Dodge and Horace Elgin Dodge. Shutterstock
The Egyptian-style Dodge mausoleum in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery is the resting place of Dodge co-founders and brothers John Francis Dodge and Horace Elgin Dodge.

Michigan is the final resting place for many important figures, a group that stretches from the civil rights movement to the auto industry.  

MICHIGAN—People often think of cemeteries as spooky places. Sometimes they’re the settings for spooky tails, other times they offer an uneasy feeling when you walk near them—especially at night. 

But more than that, cemeteries are often filled with history. This is most definitely the case in Michigan, where hundreds of people critical to both our state and our nation’s history are buried. From the early fixtures of the auto industry to stars of the Motor City, Michigan cemeteries are the final resting places for many of these figures.

We couldn’t name them all, but here are a dozen we weren’t sure you’d know of, and where you can find them. 

David Buick of Buick Motor Company 

Sept. 17, 1854-March 5, 1929

Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit

Michigan is the burial site for many automotive pioneers, a category in which Buick certainly falls. The Scottish-American auto inventor is probably known most for starting the company that would eventually become the Buick Motor Division of General Motors. 

John Conyers, the Nation’s Longest-Serving Black Congressman

May 16, 1929-Oct. 27, 2019

Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery, Warren

Conyers served as a US Representative in Michigan from 1965 to 2017, representing the southeast Michigan communities of Detroit and some of its western suburbs. He was the sixth-longest serving member of Congress in US history and the longest-serving Black member of Congress. 

John Francis and Horace Elgin Dodge, the Dodge Brothers

Oct. 26, 1864-Jan. 14, 1920 and May 17, 1868-Dec. 10, 1920

Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit

Next time you’re driving your Dodge Charger down I-75, think about John Francis and Horace Elgin Dodge. The two brothers founded Dodge Brothers Company, which, of course, stemmed into the Dodge vehicle brand. 

Gerald Ford, the Accidental President 

July 14, 1913-Dec. 26, 2006

Gerald R Ford Museum, Grand Rapids

Michigan’s Gerald Ford was the 38th President of the US, and Michigan’s lone native to occupy the White House in that capacity. But his route to the White House wasn’t paved the way many are. He was the Vice President under President Richard Nixon, appointed after Spiro Agnew’s resignation in 1973. Ford replaced Nixon when the latter resigned in 1974 following the Watergate scandal. Ford lost a bid for reelection in 1976 to Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter. 

Henry Ford, the Father of the Auto Industry

July 30, 1863-April 7, 1947

Ford Cemetery, Detroit

Henry Ford is obviously most notable for founding Ford Motor Company, but his influence on the auto industry actually goes much deeper than that. It was Ford who introduced never-ending assembly lines to the industry, meaning vehicles could be manufactured in a much smaller time frame. As a result, production gains under Ford skyrocketed, and the way in which vehicles are assembled was forever changed. 

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul 

March 25, 1942-Aug. 16, 2018

Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit 

The “Queen of Soul” has 18 Grammy award-winning hits, including “Respect,” a song that hit the mark during the civil rights movement. Franklin was in the spotlight throughout her career, performing at the presidential inaugurations for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. She was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2005. 

George Gipp, the “Gipper”

Feb. 18, 1895-Dec. 14, 1920

Lake View Cemetery, Calumet

If you’ve ever heard the expression, “Win one for the Gipper,” you’ve at least indirectly heard of George Gipp. The former Notre Dame football player died of a pneumonia-caused throat infection, but inspired the team to a win against Army after reportedly telling coach Knute Rockne: “I’ve got to go, Rock. It’s all right. I’m not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock. But I’ll know about it, and I’ll be happy.” Gipp was portrayed by yet-to-be President Ronald Reagan in the 1940 movie “Knute Rockne, All American.”

Ransom Eli Olds of Oldsmobile Motor Division

June 3, 1864-Aug. 26, 1950

Mount Hope Cemetery, Lansing

R.E. Olds is another of Michigan’s automotive pioneers, with his contribution being the founding of the company that would later become the Oldsmobile Motor Division of General Motors. 

Rosa Parks, the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement

Feb. 4, 1913-Oct. 24, 2005

Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit

A central figure in the US Civil Rights movement, Parks became famous in 1955 for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. Her actions led to her arrest and led in part to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Montgomery bus boycott. She would later move to Detroit, working for a time as John Conyers’ secretary. 

Sojourner Truth, an American Abolitionist and Women’s Activist 

1797-Nov. 26, 1883

Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek

An early social reformer, Truth was the first Black woman to win a lawsuit against a white man when she fought a legal battle and regained custody of her son in 1828. During the American Civil War, Truth spoke at abolitionist meetings, recruited Black soldiers to help fight for the Union, and assisted freed slaves. She lived most of her later life in Michigan, where she died in 1883. 

Dick York of “Bewitched” 

Sept. 4, 1928-Feb. 20, 1992

Plainfield Cemetery, Plainfield Township

York was an actor best known for his performances as “Darrin Stephens” in the sitcom “Bewitched.” He also gained some notoriety in 1960, starring as a teacher in the film “Inherit the Wind.”