1940 : World’s Tallest Man Dies in Manistee

July 15, 2024 all-day

On July 15, 1940, Robert Pershing Wadlow, the world’s tallest man at 8-foot-11 died in Manistee. His death at age 22 came after Wadlow suffered a blister from his leg braces that caused a deadly infection.

An estimated 40,000 people attended Robert Wadlow’s funeral on July 19. He was buried in a half-ton coffin that required 12 pallbearers to carry, which was interred within a vault of solid concrete. It was believed that Robert Wadlow’s family were concerned for the sanctity of his body after his death, and went to these lengths of security to ensure it would never be disturbed or stolen.

Wadlow’s family also destroyed much of his belongings so they wouldn’t become collectors’ items, but a pair of his size 37 shoes is still displayed at Snyder’s Shoes on River Street in Manistee.

In 1985, a life-size bronze statue of Robert Wadlow by Ned Giberson was erected at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Dental Medicine. He is also featured in film and with a wax replica in the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum in Saint Augustine, Florida, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Gold Coast, Queensland and Guadalajara, Mexico. A life-sized statue was part of the exhibits at the Guinness Hall of World Records in the Empire State Building in New York City.


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