|Canton, OH||June 19, 2005|
Suffering from phlebitis and prone to epileptic seizures, First Lady Ida McKinley was in poor health for much of her 30-year marriage. President William McKinley was incredibly attentive to his wife, but his care for her came to a sudden stop when an assassin’s bullet ended his life in September 1901. Ida’s health declined further over the next few years until she herself passed away in May 1906 at the age of 59. Her body was temporarily held in a vault at West Lawn Cemetery in Canton, Ohio, until the completion of the couple’s permanent tomb in 1907.
My dad and I visited the McKinley National Memorial on Father’s Day, 2005. We climbed the 108 steps to its summit and then walked through the glass front doors to the elevated granite sarcophagi. William McKinley is entombed on the left, and Ida McKinley on the right. Their only two children, four-month-old Ida and three-year-old Katherine, are interred in a tomb wall. Beyond facing the mental anguish of being predeceased by her daughters and her assassinated spouse, Ida McKinley also lost her younger brother, George Saxton, to murder. He was shot in 1898 and is buried at West Lawn Cemetery.