F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Grave Site
He sought the good life. She was rich and mischievous. She became his lifelong love. He achieved literary success at age 23 and became the king of the 1920s Jazz Age; she was also a writer and his queen. Both were celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s. She gradually lost her mind and spent many years in and out of sanitariums; he turned to alcohol.
Today Francis Scott Fitzgerald and his beloved Zelda lie together in an unpretentious grave next to a busy street. Thousands of people drive pass the gravesite each day but most of them have no idea that one of America’s most famous writers is buried in the old graveyard at the busy intersection of Route 355 (Rockville Pike) and 28 (Viers Mill Road) in the heart of Rockville, MD.
Fitzgerald never lived in Rockville but had family ties in what was then known as Locust Grove in Montgomery County. He and Zelda traveled the world but he always returned to Maryland and sometimes called upon those experiences and the characters he met there when writing his novels.
Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in 1940 in Hollywood, CA at the age of 44. Even though he was from an Irish Catholic family, he was not a practicing Catholic at the time of his death and so he was denied burial in the St. Mary’s cemetery with other family members. He was originally buried on a rainy day in the Rockville Union Cemetery on Baltimore Road, a short distance from St. Mary’s. Zelda died along with eight other patients in 1948 in a fire at the Highland Hospital in North Carolina. She was buried with her husband beneath a common headstone.
There they lay until 1975 when Frances “Scottie” Fitzgerald Lanaham Smith, the Fitzgerald’s only child, granted a request from the Women’s Club of Rockville to unite her parents with the rest of the Fitzgerald family in the St. Mary’s Catholic Church cemetery. Scottie then petitioned and was successful in getting reversed the Baltimore Diocese’s verdict denying her father’s burial at St. Mary’s. On November 7, 1975, Scott and Zelda were reinterred in the tiny church cemetery. Scottie was eulogized at St. Mary’s and buried next her parents in 1986. A total of 15 Fitzgerald, Scott, Delihant and Robertson family members are buried in the cemetery.
Fitzgerald’s relatives were both famous and infamous. He was named after Francis Scott Key, his great-grandfather’s brother and composer of “The Star Spangled Banner”. One of the conspirators hanged for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln was Mrs. Suratt, Fitzgerald’s great-aunt.
F. Scott Fitzgerald led both a charmed and tragic life. He was recognized as a brilliant writer. As proof of his recognition, online book seller, Amazon.com’s Best Books of the Last 100 Years lists the "Great Gatsby: as number two behind James Joyce’s "Ulysses". At the same time, Fitzgerald's weakness for alcohol may have brought a tragic end to his short life.
Fitzgerald once wrote that, “I wouldn’t mind a bit if in a few years Zelda and I could snuggle up together under a stone in some graveyard.” It appears that he got his wish as they both lay beneath the shady branches of the towering oaks in the St. Mary’s Catholic Church cemetery.
If you go
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
520 Viers Mill Road
Enter the cemetery through a gate at the left of the old St. Mary’s Catholic Church entrance. The Fitzgerald family gravesites are a few steps ahead and to the right.