Obituaries On My Mind

For some reason, I’ve had the topic of obituaries on my mind the past few weeks including writing one for my mother as well as writing my own.  I know this may seem kind of morbid, but in my mother’s case – since she is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s Disease – I would rather have an obituary prepared and ready to fax or bring to the funeral home rather than try to write one during what may well prove to be an emotional time for me and my family.

I wonder if any other geneablogger has done this or has considered doing this?  One resource I’ve been utilizing is a new one, at least to me: Obituarieshelp.org

Not only is the Obituarieshelp.org a great way to locate obituaries, but there are helpful resources on how to write an obituary, how to write a sympathy card or letter. 

I have been a bit of an obituary fanatic all my life and much of it stems from growing up in a small town in upstate New York (population: 5,000).  Obituaries were considered the news of the day and were read each and eveyr morning.  In fact, obituaries were read on the local radio station each day where I lived.

I’ve also come across some funny, poignant, down-right mean as well as unique obituaries, some of which I’ve written about over at my Destination: Austin Family blog using the heading “Obit Madness”:

  • Dorothy Gibson Cully’s obituary written by a some sarcastic family member with this gem: “[daughter of] Calvin Hooper Gibson, an inventor best known as the first person since the Middle Ages to calculate the arcane lead-to-gold formula. Unable to actually prove this complex theory scientifically, and frustrated by the cruel conspiracy of the so-called “scientific community” working against his efforts, he ultimately stuck his head in a heated gas oven with a golden delicious apple propped in his mouth. Miraculously, the apple was saved for the evening dessert. Calvin was not.”
     
  • Ida Mae Russell Sills’ obituary which is my all time favorite, artfully written by someone with a wicked sense of humor:  ”Ida met and married Albert Sills in 1960. Ida said “I never knew what real happiness was until I got remarried, then it was too late.” Ida Mae and Albert settled down in Fox Meadows area of Memphis. Albert wanted a son, Ida wanted a dog. Ida quoted “with my way we just ruin the carpet.” But on March 6, 1966, a son was happily born named Lee.”
     
  • Hazeline Patterson Potts Conn’s obituary which is unique in that it is written in the 1st Person perspective:  ”My name is Hazeline Patterson Potts Conn. I was born to Hazeline and Van Burn Potts. My journey began in Huntersville, North Carolina, May 12, 1913. There, I grew up on our family farm with my 2 sisters, Margaret and Anne.”

I am also a volunteer contributor with The Obituary Daily Times and each week I index obituaries from my local hometown newspaper.  This work not only helps me stay in touch with happenings back home (like I said, obituaries are news), but it has given me a greater appreciation for what should be in an obituary.

Perhaps I am more critical since I am a genealogist but I get frustrated when I transcribe an obituary that doesn’t have basic information such as birth date or birthplace, death date or death location, etc.  Very often an obit will say “died at St. Francis Hospital” when there are two or three such hospitals in my tri-county area!  Or I’ll see no maiden name listed for a woman but there are children listed further on down.  I know that an obituary is a very personal piece of information for the family, so perhaps my eye is too critical and working too much through a genealogist’s filter.

If you are working on a living person’s obituary, check out the resources at Obituarieshelp.org and let us know about your project – your thoughts, your worries, etc.

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