Kurt's Historic Sites

Henry Wallace

Henry A. Wallace

Interment Location Visited Sequence in Graves I Have Visited
Des Moines, IA February 24, 2012 33rd Vice President visited

Photographed February 24, 2012.

In my early years of grave hunting I visited graves at night and graves in the snow, but not until the premiere minutes of February 24, 2012 did I visit a grave at night in the middle of a snowstorm. It took two arduous attempts — during the first of which our rental car slid backwards down an icy cemetery hill, and the second trek on foot I thought I was going to lose fingers to frostbite — but my father and I made it to the final resting place of Henry A. and Ilo Wallace. At that point in time, finding the Wallaces under those circumstances would have been nigh impossible without the GPS location posted on patspresidentialplaces.com.

There is something peaceful yet haunting about watching snowflakes fall in the nighttime. The world seems to come to a standstill, with nary a sound to be heard. The only noises that came to our ears as my father and I trudged through Glendale Cemetery close to midnight were a raft of ducks quacking from a pond and the crunching of snow beneath our shoes.

Photographed February 24, 2012.
Photographed February 24, 2012.

One of us dug out Mr. Wallace’s footstone, but there would be little point in showing a close up image of the marker here because the inscription did not photograph well with the snow packed into the incised letters and numbers. I desired to go back in the daylight for more photographs but that did not happen. Perhaps I will return to Des Moines in the future under brighter and less wintry conditions, but I am still glad I had this memorable excursion with my father. The footstone lists Mr. Wallace’s name, lifespan, and the years in which he served as secretary of agriculture, vice president, and secretary of commerce. Had his 1948 election plans gone better, Wallace could have added the presidency to his epitaph. As the Progressive Party nominee, Wallace received over one million popular votes but no electoral votes. He finished a distance fourth behind Democrat Harry S. Truman, Republican Thomas Dewey, and Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond.

Fast Facts

Born: October 7, 1888 in Orient, Iowa

Spouse: Ilo Browne Wallace (m. 1914-1965)

Primary Political Affiliation: Democratic Party

Served in Cabinet of: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman

Cabinet Positions: Secretary of Agriculture (1933-1940); Secretary of Commerce (1945-1946)

Vice Presidential Term: 1941-1945 under Franklin D. Roosevelt

Died: November 18, 1965 in Danbury, Connecticut

Cause of Death: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Age: 77

Interment: Glendale Cemetery, Des Moines, Iowa

"The future belongs to those who go down the line unswervingly for the liberal principles of both political democracy and economic democracy regardless of race, color, or religion."
- Henry A. Wallace

July 20, 1944 in a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois

Sources Consulted and Further Reading

Nichols, John. The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party: The Enduring Legacy of Henry Wallace’s Anti-Fascist, Anti-Racist Politics. Verso: London, 2020.

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