April 26, 2008

How to write an obituary!

The following appeared in the Memphis Commercial Appeal on Apr. 13, 2008. I think it is a good lesson on how to honor the deceased.

It begins...

IDA MAE RUSSELL SILLS began this world as Betty Jean Cherry, the daughter of Howard Cherry and Betty Thompson of Middle Tennessee. In the 1930s it was unthinkable for a child to be born to a single mother. The Thompsons contracted Georgia Tann at the Tennessee Children's Home. Georgia, now famous for selling babies, found a couple who was willing to purchase the child. Everett and Elsie Russell were chosen, who had already adopted one high profile Memphis baby. The Russells renamed their new baby Ida Mae.

Newspapers charge an 'arm and a leg' to publish an obituary I've never understood why, but I guess it's because they can. Personally, I believe that obits should be published free, as a public service. In any event, I've found that a number of funeral homes around the country now publish obituaries on their own website. It's a good idea, but the problem is longevity. How long can the funeral home keep those files on-line, and what happens to them in the future? At least with a newspaper they will be preserved somewhere. Adding photos of the deceased to their obituary is a great idea!

Most obits that I read devote more column inches to survivors than to the deceased! Very rarely have I find one that celebrates the life of the departed like this one!

You can read the rest of Ida's obituary here!


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