Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The 10th Great

The 10th Great Obituary Writers' International Conference will be held this weekend - June 12-14, 2008 - in Las Vegas, N.M.

Speakers and topics have been posted at

The speakers listed are:

Dr. Jane Desmond, a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, co-founder and director of the International Forum for U.S. Studies and president of the International American Studies Association;

Trudi Hahn Pickett, retired Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune obituary writer and authority on all things military;

Jim Sheeler, scholar-in-residence at the University of Colorado, author of "Final Salute" and "Obit," and International Association of Obituarists Hall of Fame inductee, who won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing while reporting for the Rocky Mountain News.

Kay Powell, obits editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and winner of two 2008 Society of Professional Obituary Writers Awards, is slated for the presentation of the 2008 IAO Hall of Fame recipient.

IAO founder Carolyn Gilbert, the creator, host and emcee of the Great Obituary Writers conferences, will wrap up the event Saturday. Her subject: What Lies Ahead?

We welcome reports on the conference.


carolinerichmond said...

I feel very sad about the split between Carolyn Gilbert and her obit writers conferences, and Alana Baranick and her obit writers society.
I wish very much that they could bury their differences and get together. Carolyn is a wonderful organisaer of conferences, major-domo and mother hen. Alana excels at organising lectures and competitions.
I hope I am not speaking out of turn by mentioning this.

Alana Baranick said...

Thanks for your comments, Caroline.

First of all, about my organizing lectures and competitions: If you're talking about the Portland workshop, I had nothing to do with organizing that. Joan Harvey and Amy Starke organized that workshop.

And Jade Walker was the Society of Professional Obituary Writers contest coordinator.

I just run the SPOW Web site and nag everyone.

Carolyn is all you say.

I have loved going to Carolyn's conferences, hanging out with old friends and making new ones. It's terrific to be in the company of like-minded "obit crazy" people.

For me, it's been like going to a family reunion.

SPOW and its workshop/convention sessions are geared more toward our professional development as obit writers. We need that.

I speak for myself when I say that I will always be grateful to Carolyn for bringing us together.

But we newsfolks and Carolyn have had a give-and-take relationship.

Carolyn, who is not a professional journalist, has given us working obit writers the opportunity to speak at her conferences, to gain some media exposure and to network with one another.

We journalists, who write obits for news organizations, in turn have given Carolyn's IAO some legitimacy by our association with her, our praise of her and our promotion of her conferences.

That's all I'll say at this point. I see no reason why we shouldn't all get along. But we obit writers need to be the captains of our own ship.