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Lives Told Well: The Best Obituaries

by Jessica Campbell

The best obituaries find the extraordinary in the lives of ordinary people.

When it comes to obituaries, celebrities tend to grab the headlines. But every day obituary writers around the world find the extraordinary in the lives of ordinary people. Here’s a sampling of some of the best obituaries we’ve read recently.

“Nothing really matters. It’s all meaningless.”

So begins the ultimately inspirational and uplifting obituary for “bodysurfer, mom, Goldwyn Girl, movie & TV actress, Footlighter, grandmother, and real estate agent” Sue Casey. Read through the end, or you’ll miss the best parts. Read more

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“You may not have known Ida Mahone but she made your life a little better”

“No one, not a single soul, would want for comfort while she had a say in the matter and that endeared her to all. You could depend on her. You still can.” Read more

“Her tires were well-worn and she was ready to see her maker”

When Marie Bogus-Apichell died at 92, her family paid tribute to her with a beautifully written obituary published in the local newspaper she read avidly every day: “There’s a precise moment in the early mornings when the temperature reaches its coldest point and a ribbon of pastel pink clouds kiss the tops of the evergreens. It is at that specific time when the cold Elysburg mornings coaxed our blue-eyed Polish Mom to rise and head to work. She was the first one up every morning having her coffee, toast and jelly and the last one home.” Read more

The four most remarkable obituaries of 2018

These people could have been your next door neighbors. When they died, they received hundreds or even thousands of condolence messages. Read more

This man’s obituary respects his wife almost as much as he did

The obituary for Toledo radio deejay Freeman Hudson is extraordinary. Why? Because of the way it describes his devotion to his wife and support for her political career. Read more

A brilliant and complicated man

How well do we know our nearest and dearest? A sister writes about her accomplished older brother and the many things she discovered about him after his death. It’s a fascinating read.

A man of unshakable conviction

“Dad, like a type-cast character in a play, stepped from one type of service into another. Seamless somehow, he went from protecting and serving his country to protecting and serving his community. My Dad became a Police Officer of the Reno Police Department when Reno was but a small town on an important road in the West, before the Interstate Highway System was real or gravel streets were thought worthy of paving and when individual, extraordinary men owned the glitzy casinos, and not corporations.” Read more

“To my dear departed father”

“With immense courage, you left everything you had known the first 41 years of your life, to begin from scratch in another country for the sake of your children’s future. In my grief, I am shaken by the totality of you. Your unquestionable love for your family. Your love of music. Your life-long love of learning. Your acceptance of everyone and refusal to judge or dismiss anyone. How much you enjoyed being with people, hearing and telling funny stories. I cannot stop hearing the sound of your laugh. The more I hear it, the harder I cry…” Read more

Pioneering Tupperware manager Emma Lee Lewis

Emma Lee Lewis was a closer. “Every woman out there can use something in my Tupperware bag,” she’d say. “I just need to find out what it is.” Read more

From U.S. internment to Korean War POW, Billy Kazuyoshi Hatano was a survivor

“He spent seven of his first 23 years behind bars, first for being Japanese and then for being a U.S. soldier,” said his son, Brian Hatano. Read more

Frank ‘Boom’ Boomer used money to ‘pay it forward’

“Sometimes when Erin Boomer was paying the bills, she couldn’t figure out why the checkbook balance was low. It turned out her husband Frank had dipped into the money to help out somebody who was behind on their mortgage or medical bills.” Read more

Entrepreneur Elliott Royce was a remarkable retiree

“At age 96, Elliott Royce attended trampoline class three times per week. The hobby fit with his retirement routine of falling five times every morning — just for practice.” Read more

Pioneering educator at Pittsburgh schools

“Helen Faison was the woman we all wanted to be when we grew up,” Pittsburgh public school superintendent Linda Lane said. “She was smart, she was kind, and she had a heart for children.” Read more

School nurse Elva Reichenberger cared for needy children

“Kids would line up out the door to see their school nurse, Elva Reichenberger, who always took the time to let them know they were loved.” Read more

Hotel owner created Christmas lights extravaganza, enriched charities

“Dick Richards was a successful businessman and hotelier, but his real passion was decorating for Christmas each year.” Read more

Iva Withers, a Standby to the Rescue on Broadway

“If there were a Tony Award for best understudy, Iva Withers might well have won repeatedly during her nearly three decades on Broadway. Though she appeared in the first Broadway run of musicals like ‘Carousel,’ ‘Oklahoma!’ and ‘Guys and Dolls,’ she never originated a starring role of her own.” Read more


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