54 Years Late, Dorothy Parker Finally Gets a Tombstone

Dorothy Parker was born throughout a hurricane. So the poet, identified for her mordant wit, may need gotten a darkish chuckle that Hurricane Henri derailed plans for the long-in-coming unveiling of her gravestone at Woodlawn Cemetery within the Bronx final Sunday.

The ceremony was as an alternative carried out beneath unsure skies on Monday morning, starting with music and recitations of Parker’s work on the cemetery’s Woolworth Chapel and ending with sips from gin-filled flasks and roses cascading round a granite monument carved from a quarry in Vermont.

The stone itself requested for the roses. Below Parker’s identify and dates was the ultimate stanza of her 1925 poem “Epitaph for a Darling Lady”:

Leave for her a crimson younger rose,

Go your manner, and save your pity;

She is glad, for she is aware of

That her mud could be very fairly.

“Parker wrote about five epitaphs,” noticed Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, the founding father of the Dorothy Parker Society, who organized the ceremony. More than anybody, Mr. Fitzpatrick had made it doable for Parker — whose ashes have bounced across the Eastern Seaboard since she died in 1967 — to lastly come to relaxation within the household plot at Woodlawn. “That was one of her things. She also wrote a bunch of poems about death and cemeteries.”

Parker’s three grandnieces, who all reside in upstate New York — and who all missed the occasion owing to Henri and a few unexchangeable prepare tickets — all agreed on the passage. Others weren’t so certain.

“I’m kind of missing the ‘Excuse my dust’ part,” stated Margot Avery, an actress, mentioning a well-known quip Parker as soon as instructed as her epitaph. Ms. Avery has appeared as the author in quite a few productions of a one-woman play by Annie Lux known as “The Portable Dorothy Parker.” Ms. Lux was additionally in attendance. She, too, questioned in regards to the selection of epitaph.

“One of her favorites was ‘If you can read this, you’ve come too close,’” Ms. Lux added.

A brand new picture alternative at Woodlawn for followers of Parker’s caustic wit. Beth Woolley, whose firm made her gravestone, has lengthy been a Parker aficionado. Credit…David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

“‘I’m here against my better judgment,’” stated Ms. Avery, protecting the bon mot volley going. (The precise quote was “Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment,” however the that means stays.)

Ms. Avery wasn’t the one Parker impersonator available. Natalie Wilder, who has starred in a totally different one-woman play (“Fresh Hell: The Life and Loves of Dorothy Parker,” by Eric Peterson), recited two Parker poems on the chapel: the aforementioned “Epitaph for a Darling Lady” and “The Evening Primrose,” from 1929. Dressed in her flapper greatest and sporting a cloche hat, she bore a passing resemblance to the poet. “I try,” Ms. Wilder stated.

The unveiling of the headstone was the ultimate chapter in a 15-year odyssey, instigated by Mr. Fitzpatrick with the help of Parker’s household. The aim was to carry Parker’s cremated stays from the N.A.A.C.P. headquarters in Baltimore to the Rothschild (Parker’s beginning identify) plot at Woodlawn, the place the author’s dad and mom and grandparents are buried.

Parker, a lifelong civil rights activist, bequeathed her property to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. however didn’t stipulate the place her stays ought to relaxation. As a consequence, Parker’s ashes spent lengthy intervals in a crematory in Westchester County, a lawyer’s workplace in Manhattan and a memorial backyard outdoors the N.A.A.C.P. workplaces. When the group determined to maneuver to Washington, D.C., final 12 months, it agreed to ship the urn with Parker’s stays into the arms of Mr. Fitzpatrick, who introduced them by prepare to New York. The ashes have been buried final 12 months at Woodlawn on Parker’s birthday, Aug. 22.

Erecting a gravestone proved an extra venture. They are costly. The Parker kin agreed to just accept donations from the poet’s followers. Further cash was raised by way of the sale of a T-shirt bearing a caricature of Parker by the illustrator Al Hirschfeld and a limited-edition gin produced by the New York Distilling Company in Brooklyn. The gin run went on sale June 7 and bought out in sooner or later.

The distillery’s devotion to Parker was not new. Allen Katz, a co-founder, is such a fan of the Algonquin Round Table wit that he named the corporate’s gin after her in 2011.

Kevin Fitzpatrick of the Dorothy Parker Society on the unveiling.Credit…David Dee Delgado for The New York TimesMemorabilia on the ceremony honoring the creator, who died in 1967.Credit…David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

But nobody, maybe, is a greater Parker devotee than Mr. Fitzpatrick, who attended the ceremony in a seersucker go well with. He admits that his dedication typically goes too far. “There’s an empty plot next to Dorothy Parker, and my wife wants to push me into that hole,” he stated.

Jesse Gelber & the Rounders, a five-piece ensemble, performed songs of Parker’s period each on the chapel and graveside, together with compositions from Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington (each buried at Woodlawn). Kate Manning joined them on the chapel to sing “I Wished on the Moon,” a surprisingly tender 1935 track for which Parker wrote the lyrics.

Susan Olsen, the director of historic providers at Woodlawn, expects many extra individuals to make the pilgrimage to Parker’s grave. “She will make it on our map,” she stated.

The stalwarts who go to within the coming years will maybe recognize the truth that Jerry Thomas, who revealed the primary ebook of mixology in 1862, was laid to relaxation across the nook from Parker, who was identified to get pleasure from a drink.