Aurora, Indiana, located along the Ohio River, 35 west of Cincinnati, advertises itself as a town “full of unique and historic buildings that preserve its old river city characteristics.” Visitors who have viewed the town’s historic homes and churches, eaten in one of the restaurants on Main Street, and finished their shopping, might also want to drive by Riverview Cemetery, the site of the town’s most famous funeral and a unique burial.
The Schuck Building still stands at the corner of Main and Second Streets in the downtown. Raymond and Aurora (who received her name at birth, long before ever setting foot in Indiana) Schuck operated a family-owned and run plumbing business housed in the building. Aurora was a native of Cuba who had visited relatives in the United States in 1947; she met Raymond, remained in the country, married him in 1948, and became a US citizen. By the 1970s, the couple was known not only for their business but for the red Eldorado Cadillac convertible that Aurora always drove—with the top down whenever possible. When Aurora was diagnosed with incurable cancer in 1989, her last wish was to be buried in her car.
Upon Aurora’s death, Raymond Schuck purchased 14 plots in Riverview Cemetery. Workers poured a concrete vault 27 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 6 feet deep. The car was given a final wax job and, with its top down and with national media attention, lowered by a construction crane into the vault. Aurora’s casket was lowered onto the top of the open car. When Ray Schuck died in 2002, he was cremated and some of his ashes were put into the gravesite.
Aurora Schuck is not the only American to be so in love with her automobile that she could not bear to leave it behind. An in article titled “Till Death Do Us Park,” The Chicago Tribune featured Aurora and her Eldorado but also unearthed accounts of a Pennsylvania man buried in his Corvette and a Rhode Island woman buried in her Corvair.
Source: Dearborn County Historical Society newsletter, April 2012; Chicago Tribune, October 22, 2006.
A Moment of Indiana History is a production of WFIU Public Radio in partnership with the Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. Research support comes from Indiana Magazine of History published by the Indiana University Department of History.