Headstones of Lee Harvey Oswald and Nick Beef

The mysterious “Nick Beef” headstone located next to Lee Harvey Oswald’s grave

For years, curiosity seekers visiting the Fort Worth, Texas, grave of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, have wondered about the near identical pinkish granite headstone next door, marked “NICK BEEF”. The rectangular markers are the same size, each bearing only a name, with no inscription for date of birth or death. But there is one big difference between the two graves – Nick Beef’s is empty. So what was the purpose of this odd headstone? Was it a joke? A conspiracy? Were the odd capitalized letters some sort of secret acronym? Who is Nick Beef? As it turns out, Nick Beef, born Patric Abedin, is alive and living in New York City.

The mysterious gravestone appeared suddenly in 1997. Lying to the right of Oswald’s marker (Oswald’s mother’s unmarked grave is located on the left), all it said was “Nick Beef”. Last week the New York Times reported that they had solved the mystery of the Nick Beef headstone and revealed that Mr. Beef had proven himself by showing them a contract from 1975 for Burial Plot 258 in the Fairlawn section of Rose Hill ($175), as well as a receipt from 1996 for the purchase and installation of a granite stone to be engraved NICK BEEF ($987.19). NYT then told how the mysterious headstone came to be:

“By the late 1960s, he was living with his remarried mother in Arlington, Tex. Every week they would drive to the Carswell Air Force base for his free asthma shot, then occasionally stop at the eclectic cemetery called Rose Hill on their way home. “She’d get out and look at Oswald’s grave,” he recalls, “and tell me, ‘Never forget that you got to see Kennedy the night before he died.’ ”

Headstones of Lee Harvey Oswald and Nick BeefThe years passed. When he was 18, he read a newspaper article’s passing mention that the grave beside Oswald’s had never been purchased. He went to Rose Hill, where a caretaker in a glorified garden shed thumbed through some cards and said, “Yep, that’s available.”

The young man put $17.50 down, and promised to make 16 monthly payments of $10.

Around the same time, he and a friend were trying to make each other laugh while driving to Dallas from Lubbock. Stopping at a bar and grill, his friend decided to become Hash Brown; he declared himself Nick Beef. A joke.As for his unmarked burial plot back in Rose Hill, he says: “I just sat on it. Not literally.”

Life followed its unpredictable course. He worked for a local television station, moved to New York, got involved with a sketch-comedy troupe called the Other Leading Brand. He did some freelance humor writing, sometimes using the byline of Nick Beef. He married, had two children, and amicably divorced. Somewhere in there, Oswald’s body was exhumed to address speculation that the buried remains were actually those of a Russian agent; they were not.

In late 1996, Mr. Beef’s mother died, and he returned to Texas to follow the detailed instructions she had left for her own funeral. During his stay, he visited his real estate in Rose Hill and decided, on the spot, to buy a gravestone the exact dimensions as Oswald’s. When the cemetery official asked what he wanted on it, he thought about protecting his two children.

“Well, here we go,” he recalls thinking.

Upon hearing the name, the official put down his pen. But he picked it up again when the customer pulled out a credit card in the name of Nick Beef.”

Nick says that he has no plans to ever be buried there. He said he would prefer to be cremated.

Finding Lee Harvey Oswald’s grave

For those seeking the gravesite of Lee Harvey Oswald (or Nick Beef), don’t bother asking the cemetery caretakers; they have strict instructions (via a court order) not to disclose the location of either grave. Assuming you can find 7301 East Lancaster Avenue in Fort Worth Texas, here are a few sets of instructions for how to find Lee Harvey Oswald’s gravesite within the Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park cemetery.

Directions from the JFK Place:

Arrow shows location of Lee Harvey Oswald's gravesite“As you face Rose Hill cemetery office, flanking the property to your left is a public road. A chain link fence borders the cemetery property there. While there are several drives into the cemetery, the one nearest to LHO’s grave is the cemetery drive closest to the public road mentioned above.

Assuming that drive has not become one way, drive into the cemetery on it. Oswald’s grave is between that drive and the public road, which would be to your left.

As you get farther into the cemetery on this drive, you will come to a wider place in the drive (to let cars pass on the narrow way). Stop there.

The grave is about 20 feet left of the drive. The markers in that area are all flat on the ground. There are few around his grave.

Stand and look towards the public road. On the other side of that street are a few houses. One house is vaguely pink and is in line with two or three trees planted perpendicular to the road. These trees are about 40 feet from the grave and slightly to the right of it.

As you look at this house and tree configuration, on your right about fifty feet away is a tall tree. There is a line of about 7 grave markers between it and the street in front of Rose Hill. There is a space with no graves and then Oswald’s.

On around the same road, deeper into the cemetery is the chapel that housed Oswald until enough pallbearers could be found to carry him 11/25/63.”

Heather Horn directions

“When you enter the rose hill cemetery, take the road that leads off to the left. You will see a chain link fence and a public road outside of the fence with houses along the road. Follow the cemetery road and when you hit the fork, stay to the left. There is a tomb marking the fork in the road and you should park right after you pass this on the left. Lee Harvey Oswald’s grave is on your left. From the back of the tomb you would walk about 20 steps (give or take a few, it shouldn’t matter) straight on the road (walking away from the office). Stop here and turning left you should see an area with flat graves and the public road outside the cemetery. Walk straight ahead. You will see a tan colored house next to a pink one with a teal front door. The grave lines up with the tan colored house numbered 3112. So, walk straight ahead towards the tan colored house. The grave is about 20 feet from the cemetery road. You cannot miss it. It is reddish colored and directly to the left of a grave marked Nick Beef. Or another way to get in is take the public road and at Rose Hill (thats the name of the public hill) and Church (road/drive…something like that) turn into the cemetery through the chain link fence. At the first intersecting of roads you come to, take a right and follow to the fork in the road where a tomb-building is marking it. Park before you hit the fork in the road. The tomb is on the right.”

John Fleming directions

“Whichever way you enter the Rose Hill Memorial Burial Park, find your way to the western edge of the park. You will see a chain link fence and a public road outside of the fence with houses along the road. Notice markings on the curb, white stencil on green, on which sections of the cemetery are named. You are looking for Sunset 18 .There is a small mausoleum named Shannon at the fork in the road. When you find this you are within a few feet of your goal. Lee Harvey Oswald’s grave is on the side of the road towards the row of houses. The grave is about 20 feet from the cemetery road. You cannot miss it. It is reddish colored, next to a grave marked Nick Beef. No other graves are adjacent to Oswald’s.”

Sources: New York Times, JFK Place, Heather Horn, John Fleming

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