Wife, Husband Finally Rest Together at Burr Oak - NBC Chicago

Wife, Husband Finally Rest Together at Burr Oak

For three months, Burr Oak Cemetery closure prevented Daisy Donahue from being buried next to her husband



    Wife, Husband Finally Rest Together at Burr Oak
    Daisy and John Donahue

    Daisy Donahue had a very important wish.

    The 104-year-old woman wanted to be buried next to her husband, the Rev. John. W. Donahue, who passed away nearly 30 years ago and was buried at Burr Oak. But for nearly three months after her death, her wishes weren't honored -- a now-infamous scandal at the historic Alsip cemetery had erupted.

    "She had the bill of sale, with the plot, that said, 'Bury me next to my husband,'" explained Donahue's nephew, Reginald Wilson.

    Around the time of Donahue's death in July, accusations surfaced of bodies being dug up so the burial plots could be resold. The cemetery was eventually closed.

    Brotherly Love Missionary Baptist Church -- the same church her husband founded nearly 60 years ago -- fought to make sure Mother Donahue would be buried where she wanted.

    "We had heard several times about different dates that the cemetery was going to open, but of course as things unfolded and happened, we were not able to bury her at that particular time," said Rev. David Pope.

    At one point, there was a chance the Donahue wouldn't be able to be buried at Burr Oak. There was talk of her going to another cemetery, but that would have necessitated her husband being disinterred.

    History of Burr Oak Cemetery

    [CHI] History of Burr Oak Cemetery
    The Burr Oak Cemetery was for a time the only cemetery where Black people could be buried in Chicago. Keiana Barrett, with the DuSable Museum of African American History, talks about what the desecration means to the community.
    (Published Tuesday, July 28, 2009)

    "I didn't want the church to go through that, and everybody else to relive that whole experience," Wilson said.

    Donahue is now at peace, resting next to her husband.

    "I feel good now that's she finally beside her husband, like she wanted to be," said family friend Edna Conley.

    Rev. Pope said he believes that Donahue's was not the first burial since Burr Oak's closure. That information was unable to be confirmed with Perpetua, the cemetery's owner.

    Their voice mail system still says that Burr Oak is closed until further notice.

    Often called the first African-American cemetery in Chicago, Alsip's Burr Oak Cemetery has a storied past and is the final resting place for several notables, including boxing great Ezzard Charles and blues legends Willie Dixon and Dinah WashingtonEmmett Till, whose murder in the south was a touchstone moment in the American Civil Rights Movement, is also buried there.

    Full Coverage:  Desecration at Burr Oak Cemetery