John Kennedy Toole - Death

Death

Items found in Toole's car show that he drove to California where he visited the Hearst family mansion and then to Milledgeville, Georgia. Here he most likely attempted to visit Andalusia, the home of deceased writer Flannery O'Connor, although her house was not open to the public. This was succeeded by a drive toward New Orleans. It was during this trip that he stopped outside Biloxi, Mississippi, and committed suicide by running a garden hose from the exhaust pipe in through the window of his car on March 26, 1969. His car and person were immaculately clean, and the police officers who found him reported that his face showed no signs of distress. An envelope discovered in the car was marked "to my parents". The suicide note inside the envelope was destroyed by his mother, who later gave varying vague accounts of its details. In one instance she said it expressed his "concerned feeling for her" and later she told a Times-Picayune interviewer that the letter was "bizarre and preposterous. Violent. Ill-fated. Ill-fated. Nothing. Insane ravings." He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in New Orleans. A few years earlier, Toole had driven his army buddy David Kubach to the exact spot where he would later commit suicide. As the location was unremarkable, Kubach did not understand why Toole had taken him there. He left his parents a two thousand dollar life insurance policy, several thousand dollars in savings, and his car. Toole's funeral service was private and only attended by his parents and his childhood nursemaid Beulah Matthews. The students and faculty at Dominican College were grief-stricken over Toole's death, and the school held a memorial service for him in the college courtyard. The head of Dominican gave a brief eulogy, however as the institution was Catholic, his suicide was never mentioned.

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