October 16, 2020

20 famous people you probably didn’t know were buried in Tampa Bay

From George Steinbrenner to the guy who invented the human cannonball, the Tampa Bay area is the final resting place of many well-known historical figures, entertainers, business leaders, activists and heroes. The lives of these famous (and infamous) celebrities reflect Tampa Bay's history as a hub of cultural connections and brave trailblazers. For those of you looking to learn more about this topic, the City of Tampa actually has a great walking tour of Oaklawn Cemetery.

H/T to History Bike Tampa for help with crosschecking graves.

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George Steinbrenner
Trinity Memorial Gardens, Trinity
George Steinbrenner was a pioneer of the sports industry. He bought the Yankees in 1973 and led the team to seven World Series titles. He lived in Tampa from 1976 until his death in 2010. Today, his legacy lives on in the city as the Yankees’ spring training field and a high school in Lutz are named after him.
Photo via Photo via Wally Gobetz/Flickr

George Steinbrenner

Trinity Memorial Gardens, Trinity
George Steinbrenner was a pioneer of the sports industry. He bought the Yankees in 1973 and led the team to seven World Series titles. He lived in Tampa from 1976 until his death in 2010. Today, his legacy lives on in the city as the Yankees’ spring training field and a high school in Lutz are named after him.

Photo via Photo via Wally Gobetz/Flickr
Grady Stiles Jr.
Sunset Memory Gardens, Thonotosassa
Grady Stiles Jr. was a circus performer known as "Lobster Boy" for his deformed hands that looked like claws. He was notoriously abusive toward his family, and after years, was shot dead by his son-in-law while he was in his trailer watching television. Stiles Jr. used to perform in Gibsonton, Florida, which was a gathering spot for many circus performers.
Photo via Photo via Rob Gavagan/YouTube

Grady Stiles Jr.

Sunset Memory Gardens, Thonotosassa
Grady Stiles Jr. was a circus performer known as "Lobster Boy" for his deformed hands that looked like claws. He was notoriously abusive toward his family, and after years, was shot dead by his son-in-law while he was in his trailer watching television. Stiles Jr. used to perform in Gibsonton, Florida, which was a gathering spot for many circus performers.

Photo via Photo via Rob Gavagan/YouTube
Ildebrando Zacchini
Myrtle Hill Memorial Park, Tampa
Ildebrando Zacchini was a Maltese-born entertainer who came up with the idea to use humans as cannonballs. His idea was proposed first as a military tactic, but eventually became a popular circus act. In 1932 the family moved to Tampa, as Florida was a hot-spot for carnival acts.
Photo via Photo via LiveAuctioneers/Pinterest

Ildebrando Zacchini

Myrtle Hill Memorial Park, Tampa
Ildebrando Zacchini was a Maltese-born entertainer who came up with the idea to use humans as cannonballs. His idea was proposed first as a military tactic, but eventually became a popular circus act. In 1932 the family moved to Tampa, as Florida was a hot-spot for carnival acts.

Photo via Photo via LiveAuctioneers/Pinterest
Jerry Wexler
Sarasota Memorial Park, Sarasota
Jerry Wexler was a journalist and music producer who was the first to use the term “Rhythm and Blues,” or “R&B.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He retired to his home in Sarasota in the ‘90s, and passed away in 2008.
Photo via Photo via 
Docs&Interviews on MV/YouTube

Jerry Wexler

Sarasota Memorial Park, Sarasota
Jerry Wexler was a journalist and music producer who was the first to use the term “Rhythm and Blues,” or “R&B.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He retired to his home in Sarasota in the ‘90s, and passed away in 2008.

Photo via Photo via Docs&Interviews on MV/YouTube
Millie Deegan
Curlew Hills Memory Gardens, Palm Harbor
Millie Deegan was a baseball player who played 10 seasons for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Nicknamed “the Babe Ruth of Women’s Softball,” she moved to Florida in 1976 after retirement and is buried in Palm Harbor. Deegan played for the Rockford Peaches, which was the team featured in the 1992 movie "A League of Their Own."  
Photo via Photo via BullSharkGal/Flickr

Millie Deegan

Curlew Hills Memory Gardens, Palm Harbor
Millie Deegan was a baseball player who played 10 seasons for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Nicknamed “the Babe Ruth of Women’s Softball,” she moved to Florida in 1976 after retirement and is buried in Palm Harbor. Deegan played for the Rockford Peaches, which was the team featured in the 1992 movie "A League of Their Own."

Photo via Photo via BullSharkGal/Flickr

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At a time when local-based reporting is critical, support from our readers is essential to our future.