Honoring seven souls who left their loved ones with a smile...
By: Chuck Falzone
2 years ago
Once a genre that allowed no room for wit, obituaries these days no longer need to be restricted to dry recitations of the facts of a person's life. Instead, many families are choosing to honor their loved ones by publicly celebrating their humor and quirkiness. The following are some of our favorite funny and moving obituaries from 2015.
James Groth This construction manager's obituary begins with the announcement that he "made his last wildly inappropriate and probably sarcastic comment on July 28th." Although his obituary includes all the standard obituary information one would expect about his life and family, almost all of it is related with a wisecrack: his sister hails from "Whythehelldoyoulivethere, Rhode Island;" he met hundreds of children and parents while coaching youth soccer for 30 years, and "half a dozen or so of these folks might speak of him fondly if pressed;" and his main regret in life was "eating a rotisserie hot dog from a convenience store in the summer of 2002."
Groth, who lived in Moss Bluff, Louisiana, and died at just 52, wrote the obituary himself. After it was published, it was shared more than 25,000 times on Facebook and was the subject of a staff article in the Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate.
Emily DeBrayda Phillips "It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away," begins this Jacksonville, Florida, woman's self-penned obituary. As inspiring as it was funny, her loving goodbye note went viral on social media and was covered by several media outlets, including The Huffington Post and the website of NBC's Today show, touching the hearts of strangers and reassuring them that "today I am happy, and I am dancing. Probably naked."
Phillips' obituary also received that highest form of flattery, imitation, when large parts of it were plagiarized just a few months later in the obituary of 104-year-old Dorothy McElhaney. McElhaney herself was the not the culprit; her daughter later admitted using Phillips' obit as "as a framework for the obituary of her mother," according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Mary "Pat" Stocks A 94-year-old Canadian woman lovingly remembered by her family for her salty language and bland cooking, Mary Stocks wrote an obituary about herself that resonated with readers around the world, inspiring coverage on BuzzFeed Canada, the U.K.'s Daily Mail and the New York Daily News, among many others. Stocks was a graduate of and teacher for the "school of hard knocks," and though it may have improved her cooking, she "sugar coated nothing." Her family also used the obituary as a tongue-in-cheek for-sale ad, listing a strange menagerie of junk their mother had collected over the years, but noting that those interested "should wait the appropriate amount of time and get in touch. Tomorrow would be fine."
Christian Louis Hacker Like Mary Stocks, husband and father "Lou" Hacker was quite a junk collector, and he left behind "a hell of a lot of stuff his wife and daughter have no idea what to do with." A caring landlord, the self-described "glorified janitor" was always on the lookout for trash he could turn into treasure for his tenants.
His daughter, Tasha, "wanted to write something that would do my dad's life justice and also make him laugh if he were to read it." A month after the obituary was published, she wrote a blog post both about writing the obituary and the experience of having written something that went unexpectedly viral. A number of people contacted the family seriously interested in buying Lou's left-behind car parts and tools, but she also watched Facebook comments "pour in about what a great guy my dad must have been, and how these complete strangers wish they'd known him when he was alive."
Karen Ferry "The thing about writing one's own obituary," Karen Ferry wrote in her obituary, "is that one can go on and on about how wonderful one is." But Ferry mostly went on about the wonderful characters and small details from her life: her aunt's "Avon perfumes in every container you can imagine – one of my favorites was the ice cream cone-shaped bottle that smelled so light and fresh;" her husband, "the darn building inspector;" and the dogs and "the ducks and the cats (that) made us laugh every day."
The humor in Karen Ferry's obituary is sweet, not sarcastic, and when it's not funny, it's inspiring: "It's our beaches, my garden and doing art that have chinked all those little cracks left around my heart. My heart is full, no regrets!"
Anthony Mendenhall A retired teacher and Realtor, Anthony Mendenhall penned a self-written obit that sums up the life of a man who was a hobo clown, a Kentucky colonel, a haiku writer and a man who abhorred golf. A funny obituary is the perfect place for gallows humor, and Mendenhall speculates that he "could've died from pizza overdose." He detailed everything: from his high school career, where he graduated with "an emphasis on practical joking," to his days painting pipelines in the jungle and directing musicals. He encouraged anyone who reads the whole thing to "do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for someone in need (and) remember me by having some pizza and a few beers."
Linda Morrison "One of the few advantages of dying from Stage IV breast cancer is that you have time to write your own obituary." Linda Morrison – who, she notes herself, "had a fantastic sense of humor" – made the most of that time with a thoughtful, funny self-written obit that was shared widely on Twitter.
Morrison wrote that her "husband refuses to honor my request to have me propped up in my favorite chair with a glass of wine in my hand so that I would appear natural to visitors.," but she did still expect quite a bit of carousing at her wake: "I apologize to the neighbors in advance. OK, not really; after all, you only do it once, right?"