Sunday, January 28, 2007

Written by the Deceased

Charles L. Fontenay, a science fiction writer and former editor for The Tennessean, died on Jan. 27. Cause of death was not released. He was 89.

Those were the bare facts of Fontenay's obit. But there was oh so much more.

During his 40-plus years at The Tennessean, Fontenay worked as a general assignment reporter, science reporter, legislative and political writer, city editor and rewrite editor. In his spare time, he prepared advance obituaries on prominent people -- including his own.

"Charles L. Fontenay, most of whose half century-plus as a newspaperman was spent with The Tennessean, surprised himself and delighted many of his colleagues by dying yesterday."

Although the self-penned piece was a bit long -- particularly for a professional editor -- I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Charles' work, hobbies and life experiences. His article also reminded me to look beyond the bare facts of a person's life when I'm researching/writing obits, and really delve into the details. For it is there that the best stories are found.

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