"The story is a great one and it is a good one. It is essentially a story that is triumphant."
D. Elton Trueblood, Graveside Eulogy of President Hoover
When he died on October 20, 1964 at the age of 90, the 31st President was laid to rest five days later in this quiet, grassy hillside. More than 100,000 people lined the funeral procession route from Cedar Rapids to West Branch on that warm fall day.
Herbert Hoover wrote of West Branch, "My grandparents and my parents came here in a covered wagon. In this community they toiled and worshipped God. The most formative years of my boyhood were spent here. My roots are in this soil."
Iowa architect William Wagner designed the memorial while working closely with the Hoover family to commemorate his life. The two plainly inscribed ledger stones of Vermont white marble are in keeping with the Quaker ideal of simplicity. Across the curved walkway, the American flag waves in tribute. Did you know that it was Herbert Hoover who signed the congressional resolution making The Star Spangled Banner the national anthem during his Presidency?
View of Simple Beginnings
Beyond the flagpole, on the horizon at the end of the two rows of trees, is a direct view of the white, wood-frame cottage where Herbert Hoover was born. The first President born west of the Mississippi River, Hoover believed that anyone could start from simple beginnings and achieve great things.
Burial of Lou Hoover
The second marble gravestone is for Lou Henry Hoover, the tireless and talented First Lady from Waterloo, Iowa. Following her death in 1944, she was buried in Palo Alto, California, but was moved to rest beside her husband in 1964. Partners in life for almost forty-five years, they had both come back to touch the Iowa soil.