Thursday, April 7, 2016

Honoring wrestling royalty

Remembering the Von Erichs
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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During our trip last week to the Dallas area for WrestleMania, one of the things I wanted to do was visit the grave sites of the Von Erich family.  That probably sounds morbid to some, but I view it as a way to pay respects to one of the greatest wrestling dynasties in the history of the business.

Friday afternoon we headed to Grove Hill Memorial Park.  After watching a YouTube video to explain where the markers are for Fritz, Doris, Kerry, David, Mike, Chris and Jack "Von Erich" we tried to find the spots.  However it was a bit more complicated and after some driving and walking, we finally found the area where three generations of Adkissons have been laid to rest.

Baby Natosha and David's sites
The first marker Chad and I found was that of Natosha Zoeanna Adkisson.  I had forgotten she was the infant daughter of David and Candy and died in 1978, the same year she was born.  Next to her as you might expect is David's final resting spot.  I had just started watching wrestling when David died in Japan.  He was only 25 years old.  His death was the first of many losses in the world of wrestling I'd experienced as a fan.

After David died, the Modern Day Warrior, Kerry became the number one contender to the NWA World Heavyweight title.  On May 6, 1984 he beat Ric Flair for the gold.  Kerry was my favorite as a kid and remains one of my all-time favorites to this day.  He went on to wrestle in the WWF and became the Intercontinental champion.  In 1993 he ended his own life.  Four years later, the family's patriarch, Fritz died after a battle with cancer.  He and Kerry and buried side by side.

Mike, Chris and Doris
Mike and Chris Von Erich both committed suicide too.  Mike died in 1987 at age 23.  Chris four years later.  He was just 21.  Jack Adkisson, Jr. was just six when he died in 1959.  He was shocked by a downed power line and drowned in a puddle.  Mother Doris Adkisson died in October 2015.  She is buried next to Kerry and Fritz's plot.  

Kevin's appearance at the Hall of Fame
Chad and I stood in silence as we paid our respects to a family that has endured so much loss.  I thought of surviving brother Kevin and remembered his Hall of Fame speech from 2009, telling fans not to feel sorry for him.  The next night we were surprised as Kevin was brought out and gave a brief speech, reminding us of his original words.  

Paying tribute to The Freebirds and the Von Erichs
At WrestleMania on Sunday we paid tribute to World Class Championship Wrestling.  It was my favorite promotion growing up, so when Chad made the suggestion, I jumped at the chance.  He wore a "Badstreet USA" t-shirt representing the family rivals, The Fabulous Freebirds.  My t-shirt was dedicated to Kerry, who wrestled at the Texas Tornado during his stint in WWF.  I slapped the classic claw on Chad in front of AT&T Stadium as we waited to take our seats.  It just seemed like the thing to do.


  1. My first experience with professional wrestling was after moving to Texas in 1982. I would watch World Class Championship Wrestling in my room when I was supposed to be asleep. Live from Reunion Arena in Dallas. The Freebirds and the Von Erichs. Kerry was my favorite. I was so excited when he showed up in the WWE. The tragedies their family endured are just so sad. Thank you for this post. This fan appreciates it very much.

  2. I was briefly a good friend to David and Kevin and Kerry but especially David. I was as discus thrower and so was David and Kevin in Junior High and High School. I lived in Denton and they in Corinth or Shady Shores, which through a very good friend, I was fortunate to be able to go out to Shady Shores on many weekends and play football, do other stuff, and just hang out with them. I was working on the road, which I did for many years, when I heard about David taking his life in Japan, which to this day I just don't believe. David was a kind soul and just too down to earth to have done such a tragic deed. To this day I don't believe he took his own life. I Love Him to this day and will always consider him one of my best friends, as brief of a time that I knew him. Jerry

    1. David didn’t take his life ! He had something wrong with his Intestines a super bad infection

  3. David didn't kill himself. He died of a problem with the small intestine. Kerry, Mike and Chris took their own lives.

    1. I don't believe I said David committed suicide.

    2. The intestine issue was what was being told but it was suspected that he actually died accidentally of a drug overdose and that another wrestler had cleaned up the evidence to hid what really happened.