Empire State Building Tombstone In The Aurora Cemetery, John W. Bowser

Empire State Building Tombstone In The Aurora Cemetery, John W. Bowser

For the first fourteen years of my life I used to live in Europe in a small town, with population of three thousand people and with some an amazing historical background dated back to 14th century. Now for the last fourteen years I have been living in the Town of Aurora, a place where discoveries do not end.

Miniature Empire State Building, Aurora Cemetery

One of my blog readers Patrick Francone and former Aurora resident intrigued me to write about John W. Bowser and I am glad that he did. Another great thing to know about Aurora.

However, before we go on here is a small bio about Patrick.

Patrick has lived in Aurora for most of his life. He grew up on a small crescent near the water tower north of Wellington West and later when he was in high school he moved near Highland Golf Course. He attended Our Lady of Grace Elementary School, and Cardinal Carter High School where he graduated in 2006. He is currently living up north in Sudbury where he works in marketing for mysendoff.com. At nights he is a student at Laurentian University. He has many fond memories of growing up in Aurora and hopes to return one day.

Bowser, Grave Stone, Aurora Cemetery

So first thing first, I needed some pictures that related to Bowser. As per Patrick’s directions we were able to find Bowser’s grave at the cemetery here in Aurora.

It was that one overcast afternoon we drove by the Aurora Cemetery and have located John W. Bowser’s tombstone that is marked by a ten-foot high granite miniature Empire State Building. Time was of the essence especially for me, as for those who rest in peace I like them to do just that.

Bowser, Empire State Building Tombstone

Yes, John W. Bowser (1892-1956) born in Aurora (Whitchurch Township, Ontario, Canada in 1892) was the project construction superintendent for the Empire State Building in New York City. This was the world’s tallest building for 40 years until the World Trade Center’s North Tower was completed in 1972.

Following the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, the Empire State Building once again is the tallest building in New York. Unfortunately, no plaque or place commemorates Bowser’s name in the New York City.

However, he is honored on a hill in the Aurora Cemetery where he was buried in 1956 with his grave marked by the Empire State Building tombstone and he also has a street named after him John Bowser Crescent in Newmarket, Ontario.

Bowser, Empire State Building Tombstone

Few sources indicated that the $42 million Empire State Building in New York was completed in 27 months from its concept to the final standing structure. The actual time to construct the building was a little over 400 days (15 months).

Bowser, Empire State Building Tombstone Base

John W. Bowser was born on Wellington Street East on a small farm with one cow. When he was eleven years old he left Aurora, then came back, and then left again and found a job in Winnipeg. He eventually entered the construction business in which he was very successful and managing construction of the Empire State Building in New York was one of his great works. Source: Aurora 1945-1965, An Ontario Town at a Time of Great Change by Elizabeth H. Milner, pg 112.

Bowser, Marking Stone, Aurora Cemetery

The story about John W. Bowser does not end here and I will continue my photographic journey to find out more. Many of landmarks constructed by Mr. Bowser are still standing, therefore his story shall continue in the future.

John Bowser Crescent, Newmarket, Ontario

But just one more thought …

When Patrick emailed me and inspired me to write about John W. Bowser, I was curious (as always) and I looked up his email domain name mysendoff.com. I must say that there a lot of creative people out there starting interesting online ventures.

So I started my curious adventure with the About of the Mysendoff.com page: ‘We are an innovative social media site that will help you create and document your own final wishes for your own personal funeral sendoff, and it won’t cost you anything except for a few minutes of your time. Since nobody is going to get out of this life alive, anyone and everyone can use mysendoff.com’.

Like it happened with YouTube, it happened again – I was deeply immersed in reading pages, blog posts and looking up photos for hours. The site has very interesting stuff not just about celebration of life, funerals, planning for funerals but about the … or may be you just peek for yourself.

Okay, things like that …

Thomas Edison died at 9 p.m. on Oct. 18th, 1931 in New Jersey. Shortly before passing away, he awoke from a coma and quietly whispered to his wife Mina, who had been keeping a vigil at his bedside: ”It is very beautiful over there.” As he exhaled for the final time, his son Cecil captured that breath in a test tube and stoppered it at the request of Henry Ford who had been friends with Edison. Ford never gave any reason for this request although some say he believed that that a person’s soul escaped with the last breath. That breath is still on display at the Henry Ford Museum.Read More …

See I told you I was hooked.

About the Author

Anna Lozyk Romeo

I am living in Aurora and this is my photo journal blog. A picture says 1000 words - but not always, so I write. You don't have to travel 1000 miles to find a treasure - all I have to do is zoom through my lens and I will find it for you here in Aurora.


  1. How very interesting! Loved learning about Bowser and can’t wait to read more about Mysendoff.com. Thanks for sharing Anna!

  2. Thanks Anna for sharing mysendoff.com.

    Patrick is a wonderful ambassador for the people of Aurora and a very important part of our team at mysendoff.com. BTW, I used to live in Aurora in the late 80’s. and have great memories of your community,

    Mysendoff.com’s editorial content is about fascinating stories such as Mr. Bowser, but it is also about truly celebrating the lives that we all lived. We are now witnessing the evolution of the funeral industry which is gradually becoming more about “life celebrations” than traditional somber funerals that have been the tradition for decades.

    We encourage visitors to register (for free) and share their personal, final wishes for their funeral sendoff with family and friends.

    Having your sendoff wishes documented and shared through mysendoff.com is your own way of being involved in the creation of the sendoff for the final passage in your life. Whether through music selections, special instructions or something as simple as letting your family and friends know your preference for the funeral service. It is also a very compassionate act that prevents your family and friends from having to rush to plan your funeral in their time of grief and mourning.

    Once again Anna, thanks again for sharing mysendoff.com with your readers. Cheers-Colin Firth

  3. Hi Colin,
    Thank you for your comment and further elaborating on the mysendoff.com, much better than I did.
    I like the idea of positive thinking, the life celebration versus somber funerals, and I am glad to hear that industry is going that way.
    Yes, Patrick was very helpful in providing information about Bowser, but not just that, the idea was great.
    Wow you too from Aurora. I tell you that you have to visit when you get a chance it is a lot different now.
    Hope to hear from both of you again in the future.
    Anna :)

  4. Thanks Shawna.
    Yes, mysendoff.com blog was very interesting.
    Anna :)