BY Francis E. Barden The Tulsa Tribune
Aug 22, 1935
11/30/09 at 3:14 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Blossoms showered from the sky today on the body of Wiley Post as the intrepid airman was accorded the tribute of the state.
A crowd of more than 15,000 persons at the capitol building, where the bronze casket lay in state for two hours, became almost unmanageable as the time arrived for removal to a church.
Airplanes trailing crepe streamers circled lazily, high above the building, during the morning as the unnumbered multitude walked in rapid file past the bier.
Probably never before had there been a greater swarm of humanity than that which jammed the corridors and entrances and extended many blocks beyond the building. A dozen women fainted and two nurses were assigned to care for them. National guardsmen managed the throng with difficulty.
Promptly at noon, while thousands still awaited an opportunity for a last look at the flier’s face, the state’s official observance began. Governor Marland, accompanied by Brig. Gen. H.W. Butner of Fort Sill, representing President Roosevelt, marched through a forced lane to the second floor spot where the body lay.
Marland Delivers Eulogy
“Wiley Post has come to rest,” the governor intoned, his deep voice raised above the jostling of the crowd.
“The body of Oklahoma’s son begins the sleep eternal beneath the sod he loved. His spirit in company with the spirit of Oklahoma’s Will Rogers, his pal, takes its flight to that bourne from which no traveler ever returns.
“Wiley Post flew around the earth. Wiley Post ascended above to heights thought unattainable by man. Today Wiley Post precedes us, his friends on that greater journey we all must take some day.
“Happy landing, Wiley Post, in that heaven of all brave souls … Nothing we poor mortals can say or do will add to the lasting glory of prestige of these two Oklahoma sons.
“At this hour at this moment the people of this state, the people pause in their earthly tasks or pleasures to do them honor.
“We who are assembled here, their Oklahoma kinsmen and friends, can but say to our dear departed.
“Fare thee well, Will Rogers; fare thee well, Wiley Post.
All was quiet save the faint drone of the airplanes.
After a brief invocation by Rev. William Slack, former naval airman, now minister of the Methodist church at Lawton, the casket was removed toward the south steps of the Capitol.
When the guardsmen bearing it walked into the sunshine the planes dipped low, dropping wreaths and letting fall the somber streamers they had flown.
Police Lines Are Broken
The crowd rushed to snatch up the blossoms and then surged toward the hearse. Police lines were broken as the thousands pressed toward the hearse, and the vehicle made its way toward the church with difficulty.
Joe Crosson, the Alaskan airman who flew Post’s and Rogers’ bodies out of the northland where they crashed last Thursday, was made a colonel on the honorary staff of Governor Marland today.
From the Capitol the crowd hurried to the First Baptist church for the final rites, after which the body was to be interred in a crypt at Fairlawn cemetery.
Notables from over the nation were expected at the rites. Bennett Griffin and Jimmy Mattern, who unsuccessfully attempted to break Post’s globe circling record, arrived here yesterday for the services.
Body Makes Last Trip Home
Post’s body was returned here last night from Maysville, Oklahoma, home of his parents, Mr. And Mrs. W.F. Post. Flanked by a military guard of honor, it lay there yesterday afternoon in the little Landmark Missionary Baptist church.
Friends and acquaintances who live in the little farming community passed by the casket, gazing for the last time at the body of the adventurer who undertook his first flight ten years ago in a second-hand “jenny.”
Accompanying the body was Joe Crosson, the “mercy flier of the arctic,” who flew the remains of Post and Rogers from Point Barrow to Seattle. He had known Post well and had assisted him in his record-breaking solo flight around the world.
When Crosson arrived at the Post cottage, he was greeted warmly by the parents.
Mrs. Post reached for Crosson’s hands.
“I knew you would come,” she said, tears in her eyes. “I’m so grateful to you for bringing back my precious boy to me.”
To the parents’ statement that they didn’t know how they could “ever repay you for bringing our boy back,” the veteran Arctic flier replied:
“I have received my reward; there is nothing else that you could possibly do for me.”
Among the many who passed by the casket in Landmark church were 140 children from the Whitehead school, located in a community with many tenant cotton farmers.
“I wanted them to see one boy who left the cotton patch and made something of himself,” said J.I. Dendy, their principal.
“I want them to realize they might do the same.”