Robert Wadlow Cause Of Death: What’s About His Funeral?

Robert Wadlow Cause Of Death: According to all available evidence, Robert Pershing Wadlow (February 22, 1918 – July 15, 1940), commonly known as the Alton Giant and the Giant of Illinois, held the title for being the tallest human ever. Alton, Illinois, a tiny community close to St. Louis, Missouri, is where he spent his childhood.

Wadlow died at the age of 22, standing at a height of 8 feet, 11.1 inches (2.72 meters), and weighing 439 pounds (199 kilograms). Hypertrophy of his pituitary gland caused an abnormally high level of human growth hormone, which accounted for both his enormous size and his ongoing growth into maturity (HGH). There was no evidence that his development had ceased by the time of his death.

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Early Life

In the year 1918, Robert Pershing Wadlow entered this world in Alton, Illinois. At age eight, he already towered over his father. A customized desk was built for him before he even started kindergarten. After graduating from Alton High School in 1936, he attended Shurtleff University to earn a law degree. 

He was one of five siblings; the others were named Helen, Eugene, Betty Jean, and Harold Jr. Robert was strong enough to carry his father up the stairs of their house, while many of his peers still needed to be carried by their parents. The general who led the United States’ efforts in Europe during World War I served as inspiration for his middle name, Pershing.


Robert’s career got off in 1936 when he joined the world-famous “Ringling Brother Circus” on tour. In response to a query about whether or not he minds when others around him won’t stop staring at him, he said, “No, I just overlook them,” in a radio interview.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus think he’d be a great addition to their performance, especially if he could be featured among the existing cast members who are also shorter than usual. Robert took them up on their offer. Large crowds attended every stop of the tour because of the world’s tallest man’s reputation. 

His rise to fame was rapid and unexpected. He capitalized on his fame by giving speeches and hosting events to charge admission. During his promotional trip for the International Shoe Company, he received free shoes as part of \

the deal.

After that, Peters Shoe Company hired Robert as an ambassador. To spread awareness of the product, he visited over 41 states and 800 different cities. As a result of his fame, he was essentially the brand ambassador for the shoe company. Before, he was able to acquire free, personalized 37AA shoes.

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Robert, whose feet are a size US 37AA (UK size 36, nearly a European size 75), because shoes in this size used to cost around $100, or over $1,500 in today’s money.

Peters Shoe Co. used the shoe as a marketing gimmick, putting it on display in the Alton museum and telling business owners, “Display Robert’s shoe right in the center of your best window, insert the picture and write-up about Robert in your newspaper and you will be agreeably surprised at the attention this shoe will attract to your store.” From his wrist to the tip of his middle finger, the world’s tallest man had a measurement of 32.3 cm (12.7 in).

Robert Wadlow Cause Of Death

Twelve months before his untimely demise, Robert overtook John Rogan as the tallest person in history. When Robert was only 22 years old, his legs were the cause of his untimely death. On July 15, 1940, at 1:30 a.m., he died in a Manistee, Michigan, hotel.

A poorly fitted brace a week earlier resulted in a septic blister on his right ankle, which ultimately led to his death. As he lay dying, he said, “The doctor says I won’t get home for the…celebrations,” perhaps referring to the golden wedding anniversary of his paternal grandparents.

His casket weighed more than 450 kilograms and was 10 feet, 9 inches (3.28 meters) long, 2 feet, 8 inches (0.81 meters) wide, and 2 feet, 6 inches (0.76 meters) deep. Twelve pallbearers and eight helpers were responsible for transporting it. In Upper Alton, Madison County, Illinois, in Oakwood Cemetery, he was cremated.

Robert Wadlow’s funeral
Robert Wadlow’s funeral

Near the Alton Museum of History and Art is a monumental statue of Robert Wadlow, dedicated in 1986. Craig Glenday, Editor-in-Chief of Guinness World Records, once said that the title of “tallest man” was among his favorites. As he put it, “This record vibrates across the whole world because every country recognizes how strong this record is.”

Robert Wadlow’s funeral

The funeral for Robert Wadlow was held back in Alton, Illinois. A custom-made steel casket measuring 10 feet, nine inches (3.28 meters) in length and weighing more than 453 kilograms (1,000 pounds) required a minimum of 16 pallbearers to transport.

Streeper Funeral Home allowed visitors to examine Robert’s body for two full days and nights. On July 19, 1940, Rev. W L Hanbaum, pastor of the Main Street Methodist Church, officiated at a funeral attended by a large crowd (about 1,000 persons).

Additionally, Robert’s membership in the Masonic youth organization Order of DeMolay necessitated the holding of Masonic rites.

The lines to see Wadlow’s body were reportedly up to three blocks long, according to Robert Landiss, a fellow DeMolay member who stood guard over the casket when it arrived in Alton. Hymns were played on the organ, which Robert had purchased with money he had earned from his tour, and broadcast to the funeral home via an amplification system.

It was determined that Robert’s coffin was too long to fit entirely inside the hearse, so the back doors were left ajar and a black cloth was used to hide the overhanging portion. Every government building and shop between the funeral home and the cemetery lowered their flags to half-staff.

As previously mentioned, Robert Wadlow was laid to rest in Upper Alton’s Oakwood Cemetery. “At Rest” is carved into his tombstone. About 33,295 people saw Robert’s body or attended his funeral, according to estimates. The director of the funeral home, Mr. Streeper, stated that all of the carpet had to be removed due to the high foot traffic.

To prevent his belongings from being hoarded and displayed as “freak” or “giant” memorabilia after his death, Robert’s family burned the vast majority of his personal effects. As an added precaution against grave robbers, the concrete lid on Robert’s tomb was poured over his casket.

In 1985, the Alton Giant Robert Wadlow was memorialized with a life-size bronze statue in his hometown. Robert Wadlow’s record as the tallest man to have ever lived stands to this day. In addition to his accomplishments, he will be remembered as a kind person who triumphed through great hardship and brought happiness to everyone he met.

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