Newsman was one of few who attended Oswald funeral

By Rebeca Rodriguez
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Nov. 12, 1999

The sun was shining and a slight breeze was blowing at the cemetery on that Monday in east Fort Worth.

The light-gray casket was lowered into a grave, and those gathered bowed their heads.

Inside lay Lee Harvey Oswald, the 24-year-old man police believe killed President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

Among the two dozen people gathered for Oswald's burial that day was Bob Bruton, then a 31-year-old program director for KXOL/1360 AM radio in Fort Worth.

Bruton covered Kennedy's speeches in Fort Worth for the radio station that fateful Friday and also reported the events that unfolded at Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital in the moments before Kennedy died.

"We worked all of Friday afternoon and night, and all day Saturday," said Bruton, 67, of Colleyville. "Things began to wind down Saturday afternoon and I went in to the station and made a recording of my thoughts and impressions."

Bruton only thought things had died down. He would soon be reporting on another wrinkle in one of the biggest news stories of the century.

The next morning, a Sunday, he was cooking breakfast at home and was watching the transfer of Oswald to the Dallas County Jail.

"I saw [Oswald's] assassination on television live, as it was happening," Bruton said. "I saw it and I was on my way."

Bruton headed to Parkland once again, this time to report on Oswald's death.

Oswald's funeral was held the next day at Shannon's Rose Hill Cemetery in east Fort Worth.

"Everyone wanted to get it over with," Bruton said.

Bruton arrived at the cemetery, along with other news media representatives, and entered the gates of the highly secured cemetery. Three graves had been dug and Bruton did not know which one was for Oswald. He wandered around trying to figure it out when he saw a woman sitting alone in a car near one of the graves.

"I walked up, introduced myself and asked, `Do you know where they are burying Lee Harvey Oswald?' " Bruton said. "She took me to the trunk of her car and there was a plaque with black and gold letters that said Lee Harvey Oswald with his date of birth and date of death."

The woman, who was a cemetery employee, and Bruton waited for others to arrive.

Eventually, Oswald's widow, Marina; his mother; and his brother arrived by limousine, escorted by Secret Service and FBI agents. Bruton recalls that there was no minister in Fort Worth who would agree to perform the last rites.

"There were a couple who agreed to say some words, but the head of the ministerial alliance finally had to do the service."

Oswald's family had not seen his body since he was killed, so the casket was opened to let them take one last look, Bruton said.

Marina Oswald "took her wedding ring off and put it on the right-hand little finger of Lee Harvey Oswald," Bruton recalled.

"It was super somber," he said.