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19-Gun Salute Echoes Farewell to Alf Landon, Patriarch of GOP

October 16, 1987|From Times Wire Services

TOPEKA, Kan. — Alfred M. (Alf) Landon, the Republican Party's revered 1936 presidential candidate, was buried Thursday next to his father in a private graveside ceremony.

The austerity of the public ceremony was jarred by the roar of four howitzers pouring forth a 19-gun salute which echoed against the south portico of the Statehouse, honoring the former governor, who died Monday a month after his 100th birthday.

Fifty-one years ago, that same stone facade had resounded with cheers from a crowd of 100,000 who listened to Landon accept the Republican presidential nomination. During Thursday's ceremony, Landon's casket rested on the south steps next to a plaque commemorating that speech.

Despite Landon's crushing defeat by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, the oilman and radio station owner had come to be considered a patriarch of the Republican Party and an informed, earthy observer of world events.

During the capital rites, Kansas National Guard Adjutant Gen. Philip Finley slowly carried a folded American flag down the steps to Landon's widow, Theo, 89, who sat between her son, Jack, and Bishop Eugene Frank, the retired Methodist bishop who also conducted the graveside rites.

There were no speeches during the ceremony, which took less than 30 minutes before a crowd of 500. Only the gunfire and the playing of taps interrupted the quiet on the Capitol grounds.

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