Since 1872, Elmwood Cemetery at 4900 E. Truman Rd. has been the final resting place for many notable people that made an impact in Kansas City. While their faces may no longer be familiar, many of those names carry on today. This month, the Northeast News is featuring some of those familiar names laid to rest there.
Willard E. Winner May 4 , 1849 – September 2, 1929
The namesake for Winner Road, which runs east and west from historic Northeast to Independence, Mo., was born in Fairfield, Iowa and moved to Kansas City with his parents as a teenager. He quickly found work at the post office and was appointed Assistant Postmaster by age 17.
He began buying property outside the city limits, east and north of Kansas City, creating the Centropolis, Blue Valley, Sheffield, and Manchester neighborhoods. To get people to and from those areas, he built the Kansas City, Independence, and Park Railway, an electric trolley line. One of the stops on the line was Washington Park, a 400-acre recreation area that included a 20-acre lake for boating and swimming, a bandstand for dancing, and a shooting range. Remnants of the closed park, which faced competition from the newer Fairmount Park just to the east, became the Mount Washington Cemetery in 1900. The roadway that led to the park, Washington Park Boulevard, was renamed Winner Road in 1924.
Winner also planned to develop land he owned in Clay County, and had begun construction of a bridge across the river for easier access, but a recession all but wiped out his investment company. The pillars for the bridge later became the Armour, Swift, and Burlington (ASB) Bridge when completed in 1911. At age 80, he was vacationing in Texas when he died from arteriosclerosis. His wife Myra is the only family member buried nearby.