Earl Rose, Coroner When Kennedy Was Shot, Dies at 85


Earl Rose, who as the Dallas County medical examiner when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated insisted that he should do the autopsy, only to be overruled in a confrontation with presidential aides, died on Tuesday in Iowa City. He was 85.

The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, said his wife, Marilyn.

On Nov. 22, 1963, Dr. Rose was thrust into the thick of a 20th-century American nightmare. He performed an autopsy on J. D. Tippit, the police officer who was believed to have been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, the lone suspect in the assassination. Two days later, he performed an autopsy on Oswald himself after the nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot him in the basement of Dallas police headquarters. Four years later, Dr. Rose performed an autopsy on Ruby, determining that he had died of a blood clot in a lung.

But it was the autopsy he did not do that has become the most historic. After demanding to conduct an autopsy on the president, as he was legally required to do in any murder, Dr. Rose reluctantly stepped aside to allow the president’s body to be returned to Washington, as the president’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, and his aides insisted....

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