When you die, what would you hope to be doing?

Somehow, knowing that a person died doing what they loved gives us comfort. We like to hold on to the notion that our loved one must have been exceedingly happy as he or she left the planet. Here are the stories of a few who lived life to the fullest and were lucky enough to die doing what they loved, including some whose deaths came, tragically, as a result of doing the thing they loved.

Emma Catherine Place (1998 - 2017) loved the outdoors. "A girl who needed room to roam," she loved to hike and ski and kayak. Emma "died doing what she loved in the company of one her best friends ... In the words of C.S. Lewis, she is exploring ‘further up and further in’."




Richard Luciano Martinez (1964 - 2017) "gained his heavenly Harley handlebars" in April. "As if by design, he died doing what he loved most" – riding his motorcycle.







Alice Pomeroy (1953 - 2016) "was passionate about travel, especially to Europe, and she died doing what she loved most." Pomeroy was hiking with her husband Dave in Switzerland in August 2016 when she fell to her death.





When Steven Robert Neumiller (1950 - 2016) died, his son wrote a personal and poignant obituary tribute:

Throughout my entire life, I always knew one constant: my dad would "always love me, no matter what."...

I remember when I was little, my dad used to push me in the running stroller while he ran – something he loved to do... When my first daughter Madilyn was born, he began running with her as well. While running with Madi ... Steven suffered a cardiac arrest. He died the next day...

He died doing what he loved, with a little girl he loved more than anything. He will be missed beyond words.

Kyle Matthew Juárez (1978 - 2015) was a flight medic and ground medic who "cherished his days off when he could spend extra time with his family." He "died doing what he loved" when his helicopter crashed as he was transporting a critically ill patient to Bakersfield, California.





Milton Charles Odom (1966 - 2015) "died doing what he loved best, playing basketball, with one of the people he loved best, his oldest nephew."






Jean Range (1933 - 2014) was known as a loving and caring person, and "anyone who met her would just love her too." She "proudly served as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society for over 30 years until the very end" and "died doing what she loved" – helping others





Davin E. Mellus, DMD (1974 - 2014) "had an affinity for Diet Coke and Sour Skittles for breakfast and failed miserably at finding a hobby, but he died doing what he loved." The dental and facial surgeon developed "a special interest in reconstructive surgery while treating soldiers with combat injuries," and "never charged firefighters or police officers when they came to his practice." Dr. Mellus died in between patients. 






Rod Bradway (1972 - 2013) died doing what he loved: serving the citizens of Indianapolis.

"He never thought of himself as a hero, he was grateful to be doing something that he loved. He was a public servant who demonstrated courage, bravery, compassion, honor and integrity throughout his life."





After American diplomat Anne Smedinghoff (1987 - 2013) was killed April 6, 2013, in a terrorist attack while delivering textbooks to school children in Afghanistan, her family took solace in knowing she died doing what she loved. "It was a great adventure for her ... She loved it," her father, Tom Smedinghoff, told The Associated Press. "She was tailor-made for this job." 





Bank manager Eugene Ling (1921 - 2013) emigrated from China to the United States in 1964. He died at 91 "doing what he loved – ballroom dancing at the local Senior Center." He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Eunice Ling.






Charles Nathan Lovell "died doing what he loved – sleeping."






Rosa Tulane (1922 - 2012) "was full of life right up until the day she died." She spent her last conscious moments at her favorite Bingo parlor, the Palace Station Casino. According to lifelong friend, Betty Weider, Rosa "died doing what she loved – she died with her boots on."





Darnell McCowan III (1990 - 2012) joined the Army Reserves after graduating high school and served for four years before transitioning to the Marines. He was in San Diego for boot camp at the Marines Corps Recruit Depot when he "died doing what he loved best."




Robert M. Yerike (1943 - 2011) died "after climbing Nesuntabunt Mountain on the Appalachian Trail in Maine." The 67-year-old, known as "Buffalo Bobby," had a passion for hiking and was on his third "thru hike" on the Appalachian Trail when he died. Yerike's motto: "All men die, not all men live."





Huntsville, Alabama native Keavy Nenninger (1986 - 2011) had a passion for flying. While a student at St. Louis University Parks College of Engineering and Aviation, she was on the collegiate flight team. After graduating with a degree in aerospace engineering, she earned her commercial pilot's license and was employed by Highlands Aerosports in Ridgley, Maryland. Keavy, whose "adventurous spirit was infectious," died doing what she loved most."




New Orleans native Jeff Blaum (1961 - 2011) "​read the Bible daily and sought to live life in Christ’s image of humility and service to others." In his obituary published in the Times-Picayune, his family reported that Blaum “​"suffered a massive heart attack while reading the Bible."

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Don Kilpack (1934 - 2011) “​always joked that he’d been born 50 years too late, as he loved everything about ‘cowboy’ life; the mountains, desert, camping, fishing and horses.” The photos accompanying his obituary – one from his youth, the other more recent – show him looking the part of a cowboy and/or rockabilly singer. Although his family didn’t say, “He died doing what he loved,” it was clear this was the case. “Don was born singing and had a beautiful base voice. He was listening to Marty Robbins when he passed away.”






Born in the Philippines, Fortunato Gatbunton (1939 - 2010) was a U.S. Army veteran and a musician, "determined to live life to the fullest extent." He loved being with family and friends, and was "a rock of support" for many of them. Fortunato died doing what he loved: "playing pickle ball and surrounded by many loving friends."




Jo-Ann Fuller (1950 - 2010) "was a passionate paramedic who died doing what she loved." A 23-year veteran of the British Columbia Ambulance Service and Unit Chief of Station 136K in Tofino, B.C., Fuller died in the line of duty Oct. 19, 2010. "If anyone needed help in anyway, whether saving a life or just giving a hug, Jo-Ann was always the first one there."




Ameer Ali (1981 - 2010) "died doing what he loved." The 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran was flying Jan. 22, 2010, near Sand Point in the Aleutians when his aircraft went down. "I always knew Ameer would do great things. ... big things," his younger brother said. "He took leaps, not steps. He was a person who gained strength each day, learning from every instance and using his passion for adventure to drive him to his goals and live his dreams at an incomparable pace."




Abby Elliot Gibson (1999 - 2010) dreamed of one day becoming a veterinarian and taking care of all the animals she loved. She died June 3, 2010, doing what she loved most – riding horses.






Jenn Poole (1986 - 2009) was "an avid lover of animals and the earth. She died doing what she loved and was able to fulfill her life dream of helping people through organ donation. She had accomplished much in her life including climbing Mount Fuji, cliff jumping, handing out toys to impoverished children, participating in countless fundraisers, and helping every animal she could ... She left us early and had no regrets."

"Jenn would ask that you live your life and love your life."




Thomas Hilton Armor (1943 - 2009) "could start a car, rig a solar shower, or get internet mail in a developing country with nothing but a piece of wire, an alligator clip, a piece of string 'too small to save,' or a coil of old hose." According to his obituary, Armor "learned to fly before he learned to drive, hitchhiking to the Long Beach Airport for flying lessons." Armor was killed Aug. 17, 2009, when his airplane crashed after takeoff in Prescott, Arizona. He and his friend Marvin were on their way to visit a friend in New Mexico. "He died doing what he loved with his best friend at his side."





Paramedic Stephanie Waters (1981 - 2008) died doing what she loved. She "was one of the few people who was able to combine two of her loves — flying and helping others — into a career." According to her family, helping patients was her life dream.





Todd Hage (1964 - 2007) died instantly in August 2007 when the firetruck he was driving flipped over. Hage, a Navy veteran, had been a firefighter in Wesley Chapel, North Carolina, since spring 2006 and was the department's rookie of the year. Hage's 12-year-old daughter reacted to the news by saying her father "died doing what he loved."





Staff Sgt. Jimmy J. Arroyave (1975 - 2005) "loved his family, national parks and the Sacramento Kings." Arroyave, who had served in the Marines since 1993, died April 15, 2005, in a non-combat vehicle accident near Ramadi, Iraq. "I know in my heart he died doing what he loved to do," said his wife, who was pregnant when he died.






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