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Mesa cemetery tour offers peek at city history

(City of Mesa Photo)

MESA, Ariz. -- The Mesa Historical Museum Board is inviting Joe and Jo Public to learn about Mesa's history with a tour of the city cemetery this weekend.

Country singer Waylon Jennings' grave is one of the first on the inaugural Mesa Cemetery tour.

Board spokesman Vic Linoff said the cemetery is the final resting place of other famous people. "Ernesto Miranda, for whom the Miranda rights decision is named, is also buried in the cemetery," said Linoff.

"There's also former Arizona Congressman John Rhodes, who served several years in the U.S. Congress."

Another individual who influenced Mesa was Zedo Ishikawa, who died in the 1930s. The Mesa High School football star accidentally shot himself while trying to use the butt of a gun to break up a dog fight.

"While he was on his deathbed, with friends, students, and family around him, his last words were ‘Carry on.' It was the advice he was trying to give to his football team," Linoff said. "That has now become the motto for Mesa High School … 'Carry on.' "

Mesa named an elementary school after him.

Volunteers will be around the cemetery to tell the stories of the people who are buried there.

The cemetery is located at 1212 N. Center St., directly across the street from Hohokam Stadium. Tickets are $15 for adults. Tours start Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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