Awards for obituary writing presented at SPOW Convention in Philadelphia
Marilyn Johnson, author of “The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and The Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries,” made a surprise appearance at the 2010 Society of Professional Obituary Writers (SPOW) Convention Friday, April 23, 2010, to praise keynote speaker Jim Nicholson, retired Daily News obit writer, and announce that Kay Powell, former Atlanta Journal-Constitution obits editor, is the recipient of the SPOW Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010.
Jim, who was the first recipient of the honor, presented the award to Kay, who was uncharacteristically speechless.
Receiving top honors in the Body of Work category are Andrew Meacham of the St. Petersburg Times for long-form obits (over 800 words) and Evin Demirel, former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obit writer, for short-form obits (under 800 words). Both men were present to accept their awards.
Andrew also won the award for the Best obituary that goes beyond summing up a life for his nontraditional obit for “Hope Witsell,” a 13-year-old girl who took her own life.
Tom Hawthorn won the SPOW Award for Best long-form obit about a well-known figure with his obit for "Frank Williams", which was published in the Globe and Mail of Canada.
Maureen O'Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times won the SPOW Award for Best short-form obit about a well-known figure, “L. Scott Deatherage".
Winner of the Best long-form obit about an Average Joe is Ron Hayes, a freelance writer who penned the obit for “Bill Dunn” for The Coastal Star, Ocean Ridge, Fla.
The SPOW Award for short-form obit about an Average Joe went to Sally Downey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sally says there was nothing average about her subject, "Hayward Ford," a master gardener.
Joan Harvey won the SPOW Award for Best tribute, column, memoir or retrospective for her Oregonian Op-Ed piece on teacher "George Katagiri.”
Natasha Gruneberg won the award for Outstanding Radio Obituary for the obit she put together on “Sir Clement Freud” for BBC Radio.