Supernaw: The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

By: 
Diana Lejins

Councilman for the 4th District Daryl Supernaw gave a heart-felt narration about members of his family who are buried in Sunnyside Cemetery at the 25th Annual Historical Tour. His accompanying portraits of them brought his presentations to life.

He focused especially on his grandfather, Arthur Supernaw, who was born in 1878 in Oklahoma on an Osage Indian reservation. Arthur’s father, George Washington Supernaw, was teaching at a government school on the reservation and had been ceremoniously adopted into the Osage tribe when Arthur was born. Arthur’s life on the reservation profoundly influenced his future life.

His angst over the natives having their lands taken from them by government-sanctioned “settlers” haunted him and he refused to buy anything that he felt could be taken from him. Sadly, the home he had rented at 2120 Locust Avenue and lived in for 30 years in Long Beach was taken from him when it was sold to a developer to build a “cracker-box” multi-unit building in its place.

Arthur and his wife, Nettie, were married in 1900 and moved to Long Beach in 1928. He garnered a position with the future Long Beach City College. Classes were held at Wilson High School; but after the 1933 earthquake damage, LBCC built their new campus on Carson Street, where Arthur worked for 15 years as a facilities manager.

Daryl fondly remembered the stories his grandfather would tell and his great sense of humor. His council colleagues have occasionally quipped of Daryl, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Other Supernaw relatives also buried at Sunnyside are Arthur’s wife, Nettie, and daughter Martha.

Daryl’s father, Don Supernaw, a former Marine Corps sergeant and 29-year veteran of the Long Beach Fire Department, found his final resting place at the Riverside National Cemetery.

Daryl largely credits his ancestors for instilling in him a great sense of civic duty and pride.

The Tour

This all-ages annual pilgrimage was sponsored by the Historical Society of Long Beach (HSLB), founded in 1972 to connect citizens to the past, and the Long Beach Parks Department. The event featured numerous graveside presentations by professional and amateur actors portraying the life of the person lying at rest. Period-appropriate costuming was provided by The Long Beach Playhouse. Other displays had an interesting array of historical and cultural perspectives.

The 114-year-old historic landmark cemetery lay fallow and was in danger of closing several years ago due to financial troubles. The city came to the rescue and incorporated it into the Parks Department, and the rest is history. The more than 16,000 occupants, including a number of Union and other World War veterans, former city mayors and civic leaders can now truly rest in peace. As the HSLB declares, “every plot has a story.”

Sunnyside is located at 1095 E. Willow Street next to the Municipal Cemetery at 1151 E. Willow St. They are open to visitors every day 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Respectful decorum required. HSLB can be reached at (562) 424-2220.

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