Editor's Notebook: Some people just dying to share their personal quirks
By Debra Utterback
Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
When I die, I hope my obituary will reveal my love of French toast and chocolate buttercreams, my obsession with photographs, and my disdain for ironing and the sound of drippy faucets.
They're obviously not noteworthy facts, just my own personal quirks.
I've noticed what seems to be a new trend in obituaries to give more of a glimpse into the personality of an individual rather than the standard practice of just listing the birthplace, survivors and employment history.
You might have seen the obit that went viral for Harry Weathersby Stamps, who died in March at age 80 in Mississippi. His daughter wrote a clever, revealing and strikingly honest tribute to her father.
She described him as a ladies' man, foodie and natty dresser in a plain-pocket T-shirt and black-label elastic shorts worn above the navel.
She went on to describe his lifelong love affair with deviled eggs, his ability to eradicate mole crickets from his yard and his disdain for daylight-savings time.
She described how he would crow like a rooster over the phone to his grandsons and taught his two daughters to fish and choose a “quality” hammer.
What a great snapshot the daughter created for a colorful dad who will be remembered for his big personality and daily adventures in his home, where he coveted his oversize, “old-man” remote control.
His awesome everyman obituary spread across the Internet and nation, where it touched many people who never would have given it a look had it just listed biographic details of his life.
I've seen snippets in local obituaries now, too, giving a peek into the lives of individuals who died. I recall one woman from the Sewickley area who was described as “loving nothing more than chatting as she bobbed around on her raft in the ocean.” What a beautiful way to remember her, floating peacefully in the ocean.
Other obituaries described a woman's deep devotion to her beloved, prized tomatoes, praised a gentleman as the “best piggyback-ride giver” and detailed the life of the “biggest Steelers fan ever.”
RIP Harry Weathersby Stamps. You don't know it, but you've paved the way for the rest of us to be remembered for our deep love of deviled eggs.
Debra Utterback is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1403 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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