A visit to Alberto's Grave
(by Father Rob, a priest who lives near Broken Arrow, where Alberto died.)
Rivera died Friday, June 20, 1997. I wish I had known, as I was living in Tulsa at the time. It might have been fun to show up for the funeral wearing my collar.
For some odd reason, his death notice did not appear in the Tulsa World until the following Monday... a little unusual, but not unheard of. The notice stated that the funeral were pending, and being conducted through Moore's Southlawn Funeral Home. ( This is not too far from Broken Arrow, and right alongside a major cemetery in Tulsa-- Memorial Park Cemetery.)
Since the services were listed as "pending," I spent some time in the library perusing copies of the Tulsa World following June 23rd, but could not find anything more. I even backtracked to June 20, thinking that maybe the notice of services might have run earlier, or that the date of death might have been a typo. No soap.
I went to Moore's Southlawn to ask if they could provide some info. They were very helpful. While the man who helped me was on the phone, I looked upside down at the book he had very helpfully left open on the desk across from me, reading the cause of death (colon-rectal cancer) and a home address in Broken Arrow, which I memorized, but have not been able to verify as still current. (It *has* been 7 years.)
Oddly enough, Rivera is not buried in the cemetery alongside Moore's, but in another, six miles north and two miles west (Rose Hill Cemetery, corner of Admiral and Yale), in an older, more run-down part of town.
The people at Rose Hill were very helpful as well. The provided me with a map of the sections, and a grid for the section where Rivera is buried. I do not have my scanner hooked up, and don't even know if it will work with Mac System X. (I'll see what I can do about sending a scan, but this week will be a little too busy to mess with it).
In the northeast corner of Rose Hill is a section labeled "Moore's" on the map. It has no headstones at all, and a large number of Hispanic names. This may be my prejudice showing, but I took this to mean that this was kind of a "budget" plot, for want of a better term... meaning that it seemed to me that perhaps many of the families who had folks buried there did not have much in the way of funds. (I asked later why no headstones, and was told they were not allowed in that section, only flat markers were permitted.)
About four rows west of the fence onto Yale, only a rock's throw from the QuikTrip, is the spot marked for Alberto Rivera.
I check the map about 4 times, and found the people on all 4 sides, and others around the grave. It was the right spot. And there *was* an open space where a grave could be, and not many (or any) other open spaces around, and least not that I noticed. So it looked as though I had the right spot.
I kind of melted over this. Okay, the guy was a con-man (my opinion), and he managed to fool a lot of folks with a lot of really nasty lies, but he doesn't deserve an unmarked, forgotten grave. There isn't even room alongside for his wife to be buried, unless they're gonna do a two-deep. The other graves around did not seem to be set up this way.
Anyway, I sat there for a bit, and said a prayer for Alberto. It occurred to me it would be an act of charity to bless the grave, so I went and got the bottle of holy water out of the car, and prayed from memory the blessing of the grave from the Catholic funeral ritual. I really do hope the guy is at peace in God's kingdom. While I was there, I realized Alberto is part of how I ended up becoming a priest... had I never heard of him my first year of college, I would not have spent time questioning my own faith, and whether the claims Alberto made were true. He deepened my faith.
Anyway, I went back to the Rose Hill office, and asked about the lack of a marker, and why no headstones in that section. I was told that headstones were not allowedin that section, which had been purchased by Moore's Funeral Homes. As for the lack of a marker, I was told that the most common reason would be that no one wanted to pay for it. I enquired about price, and was told it might range from $400 for a stone marker to $500 for bronze.
I still have not decided about this. Once I send this off, I will look for a phone number for Alberto's wife, and ask her about the lack of a marker. If she can't afford it, maybe Jack Chick (if he is a real person) can be shamed into paying for one.
Well, there's my "review." It's very late, and I am in the middle of writing what I hope will be a scathing letter to Jack Chick, as the grave is ***unmarked.***
Chick must have made thousands of dollars off this fellow's bs story...he could at least spring $500 for a bronze marker.
-Father Rob of Tusla, OK
Thanks for the report! Kinda a buzz kill about the missing marker though. Still, I'd save your cyber-ink on the letter to Chick. I have little doubt Chick would have bought a fancy tombstone for Alberto if his wife wanted it. Alberto never took any money for his story to Chick, and Chick is well known for his loyalty to his friends. (Some say his loyalty has blinded him to the faults of other's, including Alberto.)
Although I have no proof of this, I suspect they kept Alberto's grave unmarked to avoid vandalism. I don't know if this fear is justified or not. But it's very possible a marker was there at one time and removed or damaged. Alberto evokes some very angry responses in certain people (present company excluded). Heck-- it might even be a dummy plot to serve as a "red herring" and throw off those who would dig up the corpse and put it on trial! (One of the fears of Alberto's supporters.)
Thanks again for the eyewitness account.
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