The better portion of the obituary I wrote for Gussie Jones, that was published in The Plain Dealer on Jan. 13, 2007, focused on her late-in-life career as a volunteer, helping fellow seniors at a senior center.
Gussie was in her 70s, when she started volunteering at an adult day care center in the late 1980s. She was honored with an award for her dedication when she was approaching 90. What a great person she must have been!
But the following lines I wrote about a job Gussie held earlier in life ended up giving me the warm fuzzies:
In the 1940s, when her children were young and her husband, a city employee, became too ill to work, Gussie took a job at the H.E. Frisch Knitting Mills, which later became part of the Bobbie Brooks Co.
Her boss "was a German man," said Jones' daughter Shirley Parker-McCoy. "His machines were brought over from the old country. They made a special kind of knit. She worked nights. She would walk around the machines so they didn't get a hole in the knitting."
I like to include little tidbits of history - in this case local history - in obits. Some readers get nostalgic over such things. Others stroke their chins and say, "Hmm. I've never heard of that."
This time, I heard from a reader whose family owned the knitting mill. He wrote: I have a DVD showing my father and Gussie's German boss and the machinery she was operating. It may be interesting to her family. How can I contact them?
Naturally, I don't give out phone numbers, mailing or e-mail addresses for the relatives of the people I write about. I usually forward e-mails, when possible, or call the family to give them the option of contacting the person. Or I simply advise the interested party to check the phone book - on paper or online - or contact the funeral home. Funeral directors should be able to forward condolences and such to the family.
In Gussie's case, I called her daughter in Georgia to relay the e-mailer's message. The end result: The e-mailer sent Gussie's kids the video to show them the machine from the old country that she'd always told them about.
I love when that happens.
This is why I think all obits should include either a byline with an e-mail address attached or a guestbook option. You'd be amazed at some of the connections that have occurred on The Blog of Death. For one woman -- Doris Lund -- an entire community has sprouted up beneath her obit. Her remaining family reads every tribute and keeps the people who post on my site updated about their lives.
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