Searching for Bruce Lee

Wandering Lakeview Cemetery in search of a master

I’m lucky to have friends who are pretty much game for anything. So when I turned to my friend Nic earlier this week while we were with the kids at the Volunteer Park playground and asked her if she wanted to wander over to the adjoining cemetery to find Bruce Lee she didn’t bat an eye. Two moms with three kids wandering around grave stones? Nothing weird about that.

Actually there wasn’t. Cars were pulling into the cemetery and we figured they were there for the funeral that was set up. Ummm…no. They were looking for Bruce Lee. Turns out they were just as clueless as we were too.

Bruce Lee wasn't the only one making a statement at Lakeview Cemetery. Check out the tree stump memorial.

Now, I don’t know if you troll around cemeteries very often, but most don’t come with signs pointing to the local celebrities. In fact, I believe Kurt Cobain is in this same cemetery but they are very careful not to advertise exactly where he’s located. If they did fans would be camped out next to the man’s head stone for weeks at a time.

We really had nothing to go on to start our search. We figured there would be a bunch of flowers, but given the holidays there were flowers everywhere. We found a few pictures via our iPhones so we knew what the gravestone looked like at least. Still, we couldn’t find it. We even looked up directions! Yes, there are directions to Bruce Lee’s grave online. I guess we aren’t the only ones to get lost. After a few sites I finally found directions that made sense. We had come in the wrong entrance but at least we finally had a few monuments and a flag pole to go on.

This cross is a piece of the puzzle when finding Bruce Lee

Nic and I along, with our three kids, Dek (2), El (4) and Lee (2) trudged up the hill. The advantage we had over the cars was that we could cut across the grass as we searched. Cars had to take a much more roundabout route.

The kids got distracted every step of the way. We tried to be respectful. We made a game of the kids not stepping on nameplates and walking around headstones instead of trying to climb over them. We told them that we were on a treasure hunt. Our clues were a stone with a picture of a man on it. There would also be big cross and a view of the lake. Which of the kids could find it first?

Bruce and Brandon Lee memorials

Finally, finally we found the flagpole and the large cross at the top of the hill that a website had pointed us too. I was trying to get Dek away from a pile of twigs when Nic shouted out that she had found Bruce Lee. The kids were overjoyed. Of course, they had no idea what they were looking at, but they knew the treasure hunt was done.

El captures his own version of visit

El pulled out his camera to snap some pictures. Nic and I checked out the memorial of flowers, fruit and even snow globes that had built up over the holidays. And then we moved on. The kids were bored and wanted to explore the other cool monuments. Our respects had been made to the martial arts master and it was time to go.

El's photo album from the day

Funny thing is, once we found Bruce Lee, everyone in cars started pulling up. They had been driving around longer than we had been looking. I guess they were just waiting for us to figure out where to go.

On our way out another car pulled in and was smart enough to ask us where Bruce Lee was located. We felt quite proud that we could indeed point them in the right direction. We were pros at this point. They didn’t need to know that we had wandered around lost for a while ourselves. Now we just need to find another local sight to top this one… I hear Jimi Hendrix is close by.

Not a bad place to spend all of eternity

Directions to Bruce Lee’s Grave from Volunteer Park Playground

  • Head out of the park and go left down 15th Avenue East
  • Walk into the cemetery entrance on your left. Walk straight up the hill. Cut through the grass. Do not stick to the path.
  • When you are at the top of the hill you will be standing on a path/road. You will see a very large stone cross in front of you and a flagpole.
  • Turn around and look at Lake Washington.
  • Directly in front of you will be a coral colored gravestone and a black gravestone. These are Bruce Lee and his son Brandon Lee. There is a very nice bench to sit on and meditate on both men’s amazing, yet short lives.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Lakeview Cemetery, 1554 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112
  • Hours: 9am to dusk daily, closing 4:15pm (winter), 6pm (spring), 8pm (summer)
  • This is not an amusement park. It is a cemetery. No picnic tables, nothing.

For more travel inspiration head over to Photo Friday.

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10 comments

  1. Interesting Story – there are so many in cemeteries, aren’t there? I had forgotten that his son had died as well.

    Was the Big cross a monument to someone as well?

    ~Becca

  2. That’s definitely a different way to spend you afternoon. I wouldn’t have thought it would be so hard to find somebody in a cemetery (I haven’t spent a lot of time in them), but I guess it makes sense to keep the location of some people’s graves a secret. On the other hand, if you really want it to be a secret, don’t put your name and picture on the grave marker.

  3. Mom

    What a fun hunt! Wish I could have come along. I was thrilled when I learned this past summer that you enjoy cemeteries as much as I do. There are so many stories to tell. Why not provide a link on your page to take people to the one in Melvin Village?

  4. Definitely an interesting way to spend your afternoon! :) Now I’m amazed that you were able to provide directions. If I had been wandering around until I eventually stumbled upon the gravesite then I would be lucky to find my way back out let alone be able to give step by step directions on how to get there.

  5. I find cemeteries very interesting too. And the kids always enjoy being outdoors. Not a bad day!

  6. My husband and I once wasted an entire afternoon aimlessly wandering the Pere Lachaise in Paris looking for Jim Morrison’s grave (his idea, not mine!)

  7. My kids think looking for people’s graves is a very weird way to spend a day, but I think it is fascinating! Good thing you were there, or those other poor people would have never made it.

  8. What a great day outing! Cemeteries are very interesting places. The history and knowing each headstone marks a life and it’s own story. Quite interesting. I actually spent a couple of hours at the oldest cemetery in New Orleans when I visited in May. I was intrigued by the above ground burials.

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