Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Obituary for The New York Sun

Steve Miller (byline Stephen Miller) today, Sept. 30, 2008, had the task of penning an obituary for The New York Sun, where he has been obituaries editor since February 2003.

The obit, titled "Picking Up the Flag of the Sun," appears in the final edition of the 6-year-old publication.

Steve, known for his intense researching abilities and attention to detail, does an admirable job of summing up the life of this institution.

The setting of the Sun also means the end of Steve's career there, but life on the death beat goes on. He will continue handling the "Remembrances" obits in the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Totally not an obit cliché

The paid death notice for Ruth E. Rencevicz, which was printed in the Akron (Ohio) Beacon-Journal Sept. 10, 2008, begins with:

Ruth E. Rencevicz, born Ruth Elizabeth Sechrist on August 28, 1927, passed away on September 7, 2008 due to complications resulting from her children making her old before her time.

Among her survivors: an illegitimate child conceived when the circus was in town named Greg "The Donkey" King.

She had an interesting work history:

Ruth also served her country as a covert spy for the Central Intelligence Agency, where during the Cold War she was largely responsible for the breakup of the Soviet Union near the end of the 20th century. At least, that's the way she told it.

She helped mold young people:

Ruth was also very active as a volunteer with youth in her community in Tallmadge, Ohio, where she was known to selflessly give of her time by standing on her balcony yelling at kids for "playing that rap music" at all hours of the day and night. She also served as a mentor to young people by throwing rocks at teenagers dressed in loose baggy pants with their underwear exposed. She winged a couple of 'em pretty good, from what we understand.

But wait! There's more! You should read all of what the family wrote about her.

I haven't started reading the 46 pages of guest book comments yet.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Obit cliches

Thanks to everyone who contributed! Special props to Amy Martinez Starke, who rounded up an impressive 112 cliches, some of them particular to the Pacific Northwest though none involving any vice-presidential nominees from Alaska.
Here's an edited list of everyone's worst offenders:

Died doing what s/he loved
An avid (noun)
Never met a stranger
A Renaissance (wo)man
Now sitting next to (golfing with/fishing with/tipping cows with, etc.) Jesus
A giving/caring individual
Would give you the shirt off his back [or her back, though that evokes coarse thoughts]
Always there for you/me
Would do anything for anybody [hmm. ANYthing? More coarse thoughts]
Only saw the best in people
Chose his own path (walked to the beat of his own drummer, etc)
Friend to all, enemy of none
Man (woman) of the world
Smile lit up the room
Didn't suffer fools
Could talk to anyone, from a CEO to a janitor
Made every minute count
A soul mate
Tackled life with (adjective) gusto
Connoisseur of life's ironies
A gentleman/lady first
Had many fine qualities
Enhanced the lives of those around him/her
Generous to a fault
Known for boundless energy
Friend to the friendless
A (wo)man of quiet dignity
His/her family was his/her life
A private person
Personality larger than life
Built that business on a handshake
Trailblazer/ blazed trails for others to follow
Strict but fair
A voracious (noun)
A consummate (noun)
A gifted (noun)
An accomplished (noun)
Had an insatiable passion for (noun)
Had an inexhaustible love of (noun) [though I think if the noun were "truly improbable pornography" or "collecting Happy Meal toys," it would be OK, but that's just me]
A seeker of truth/wisdom/meaning
Honest as the day is long [again, I think this would be OK if the day were above the Arctic Circle, in winter]
Yin to his/her yang
When you were near (name), you knew you were in the presence of someone special
Will be sorely missed
A poet's soul
Broke the mold
Door was always open/always kept an open door
A perfectionist
Never complained
possessed many fine qualities
Enhanced all lives s/he touched
Loved (children/wife/friends/dog) more than life itself
An inspiration to all
Never any self-pity
Never asked, 'Why me?'
Never said a negative word
Left the world a better place
An all-around nice guy/gal
Will be remembered for his quick wit [exception: If he said "Hey, watch this!" and overstepped the overlook ledge while at the Grand Canyon]
Truly one of a kind
Not soon be forgotten.
"No," "Can't" and "Won't" weren't part of his/her vocabulary
Never a dull moment
Refused to give in or give up
Loved by people from all walks
Gave the gift of laughter/life/love/STDs [sorry, not that last one]
A heart big as all outdoors/ so big that it finally wore out
No degree, but never stopped learning
Student of life
Took many under his/her wing
Honest and true
A thirst for knowledge
Ahead of his/her time
Heart of gold
Always gave 100%/110%
Excelled at everything
Enjoyed spending time with her family, walking in the rain, and pina coladas
Her (family/friends/pets/miniatures collection) were the light of her life
Hailed from a prominent family, with ancestors who were fourth (fifth, etc.) generation (effete noun)
A tireless/untireing/dauntless champion of (cause)
Left a legacy of (blank)
Awards too numerous to mention
Had many honors/awards but never talked/bragged about them
A simple (wo)man
A child at heart
Never lost that child-like innocence [OK for Happy Meal toy collector though]
Marriage had a few bumps in the road [OK for Henry VIII]
Died peacefully with his familyi at his side
Engaged all with her witty conversation
Left this life with no regrets
A natural born (vocation noun)
Would have wanted it that way
Zest for life [and, incidentally, his favorite brand of soap! Memento bars will be distributed following the service.]
A self-made wo/man
Only father/mother they ever knew
Wasn't that kind of (wo)man
In heaven now/With Jesus now, gathering all the angels for (favorite activity)
Succumbed to cancer after a long and courageous battle
Loved life
A people person [Soylent Green!]
A consummate (vocational or avocational noun)
A (vocational noun)'s (vocational noun)
An icon
Never be another like him/her
Always learning new things
Graduate of the School of Hard Knocks
Just getting his/her life together/turned around
A role model
Didn't talk much about himself [exception: When Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh dies, for a guaranteed laugh]
Not a churchgoer but very religious/faithful
Always a twinkle in his/her eye
Knight in shining armor
Enjoyed/lived each day to its fullest

Got more? Post 'em!