These unforgettable tributes share the amazing lives of everyday people

What makes a great obituary? Here at Legacy, we see thousands of memorial tributes every week. They all do the job of letting family and friends know that a loved one has passed — but some of them go way above and beyond that to tell fantastic stories, leaving either laughter or lumps in our throats. (Sometimes, both.) Here are some of the most touching obituaries we've read so far in 2019.

Sue Casey (1926-2019): "Sue swam at the side of Esther Williams in MGM's aqua-extravaganzas, sun-bathed in 'Rear Window,' partied with a sharp-clawed cat in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' and shimmied next to future-dictator Fidel Castro in 'Holiday in Mexico' (you can Google it). Sue experienced a few vertiginous frissons when seeing many of her friends and lovers memorialized on postage stamps and one largish U.S. coin." (Read Sue's obituary.)

Emile T. Pappas (1925-2019): "When he told his father that he had stock in a company called Coke a Cola, his father made him take them back and exchange them for the coins to which he was promised. After all, there was a Depression on." (Read Emile's obituary.)

Lewis Coleman (1954-2019): "A man of many words and stories, some factual and others not so factual... A man of true integrity, never giving a cripple crab a crutch under any circumstances, regardless of the fact that no one has any idea of what that saying means." (Read Lewis's obituary.)

Delores O'Brien Wise (1931-2019): "She was an excellent cook who embraced her Polish heritage and could make killer cabbage rolls and pierogi. She could even change a light bulb all by herself!... Her pool parties were legendary. It didn't matter who you were, you could count on three things: Good food, good drink and getting thrown into the pool.... She traveled all over the globe. From smuggling in Poland, hallucinogenic elephant rides in Thailand to table dancing in Spain, there was never a dull moment traveling with her." (Read Delores's obituary.)

Tim Schrandt (1955-2019): "Despite his crusty exterior, cutting remarks and stubbornness, there is actual evidence that he was a loving, giving and caring person. That evidence is the deep sorrow and pain in our hearts that his family feels from his passing.... Tim led a good life and had a peaceful death — but the transition was a bitch. And for the record, he did not lose his battle with cancer. When he died, the cancer died, so technically it was a tie!" (Read Tim's obituary.)

Gertrude Slom Merlin (1920-2019): "She hid from the Nazis for several months, but was eventually taken from her home in the middle of the night, just as has been portrayed in many movies. She never saw her parents, two of her sisters, or her brother again.... Once she was punished for searching the garbage for rotted potatoes; she was beaten and given nothing to eat for a week." (Read Gertrude's obituary.)

Aldona Zalnieriunas (1933-2019): "Aldona was clear-eyed about death, torn between leaving her children and their offspring (she was happiest with a well-stocked fridge and family crowded around her dining table) and joining the love of her life, Victor. They met at a wedding in the 1950s, danced all night and never parted until Victor died from cancer, stretching out his life as promised until the eve of their 55th wedding anniversary. They were a romantic, through-thick-and-thin couple, dancing to scratchy records, scrimping to pay the mortgage, cuddling on the sofa." (Read Aldona's obituary.)

Geoffrey L. Turner (2019): "I was an idiot who made the same stupid decision, day-after-day, multiple times per day. I was a smoker and even though I knew it may eventually kill me, I chose to deny the truth to myself. The pain and suffering I caused my family was not worth the perceived "satisfaction" that really did nothing more than waste money, separate me from my family, and eventually destroyed my body." (Read Geoffrey's obituary.)

Jenna Rae Tatro (1992-2019): "In her short time on this earth, Jenna's journey was like a rock thrown into a lake: sending ripples ever outward into the future. Your addiction doesn't define you. Jenna was a writer, a traveler, a poet, a thinker. She loved animals and music, and her friendships and family ignited the hearth that was her heart.... If you are struggling with addiction right now, she would tell you: there is always hope. Never, ever, give up. The ripples of Jenna's journey are still seen today: in every cousin she babysat, or her friends who will live in her honor." (Read Jenna's obituary.)

Read also: The Four Most Remarkable Obituaries of 2018