Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If you doubted obits are a-changin' ...

"North Stonington - Vilma Justine Carocari, daughter of Noah R. Carocari and Aristea Baruffaldi Carocari was born on May 25, 1931, and passed Sept. 27, 2009.

"So long everybody! I'm headed for a new adventure. If I can figure out the trick, I'll send back a post card, or something. In any case, stay alert, be on the lookout.

"I wish I could have lingered a little longer because I really didn't get to finish the "to do" stuff on my life list. But I did put quite a dent in it. I started out by arriving here on Earth right in the middle of the Great Depression, later followed by the incredible experience of World War II. As a kid, I lovingly raised a passel of beautiful little animals, and throughout my life helped many animals in the wild regain their freedom and their health; proudly owned a great, branded western work horse named Toby; learned and loved to operate not only automobiles but also trucks, buses, snow plows and earth moving equipment; graduated from the University of Connecticut (and still root for our great UConn teams); in the late 40s, drove with a couple of college buddies in my 1930 Model A Roadster all the way to Niagara Falls - WOW!; proudly worked for the U.S. government in magnificent Washington D.C. for about seven years; motored around the breathtaking Gaspe Peninsula with my sister, Noemi, in my old Jeepster; sailed the great Atlantic in the wonderful old cruise ships Maasdam and Leonard da Vinci and spent a couple of years in Europe, including visiting the beautiful Italian Dolomite mountain valley where my father was born; drove the old Jeepster coast to coast all around the U.S. taking in all the sights; participated in numerous camping horseback trail rides in our spectacular Rocky Mountains; played out my "Jack London fantasies" by learning to drive sled dogs across the frozen Alaskan wilderness, in the dead of winter (and brought home a one month old baby sled dog for a souvenir - better than a picture place!); spent some time traveling the Far East; became a teacher for 29 years in the town of Stonington; sailed to the exact location where the Titanic met its doom and paid my respects while floating there above its remains; traveled to the Canadian Arctic and Greenland with my great niece, Nizhoni, where we encountered polar bears in the wild, up close and personal, and glided, touching close, among breathtaking, gigantic icebergs; became a long time season ticket holder of the New England Patriots (and made it to three Super Bowls, all in New Orleans, including our first S.B. win); reveled in photographic activities my entire life; and yes, fulfilled a lifelong passion by learning to fly, especially those tired old World War II planes (like me). Except for the stinging sadness of losing so many beloved people along the way, all in all, I had quite a run!

"So, I wish good luck, happy and rewarding life, and love to all my friends and relatives, most especially much love to my niece, Vilma Gregoropoulos, my great niece, Nizhoni Brown, and my great nephew, Noah Brown. Without these three, the quality of the last years of my life would not have been possible. And special thanks and love to my cousin, Joanne Fontanella who always stood ready to help and never turned me down. Ciao, tutti!!

"If you would like to honor my memory, while simultaneously helping my marvelous, beloved little hometown, please send a contribution to the North Stonington Grange or to the Wheeler School and Library, where I was once a high school student. Thank you."

13 toothbrushes!

"Though she traveled throughout Europe and North America, Mrs. Powell took the greatest delight in sharing her home in Valdosta and house at Cherry Lake with family and friends, her children and their friends, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, friends' children and their grandchildren and sometimes even strangers.

"In fact, after she was widowed, there were 13 toothbrushes in her bathroom, all kept there by people who regularly enjoyed her company."

(Thanks to Maggie Farley!)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Under the Tuscan Sun

Watching it again just now, I realize how much I understand now about connections that happen and aren't forced. I think this is why I much enjoy reading about people's lives in obits, that I can appreciate. I hope my own life is understood this way.

Bushel and a peck and ...

"She was an active member of the Ladies Guild of Christ the King Church in Old Lyme, where she enjoyed organizing tag and bag sales. She also enjoyed going to tag sales with her girlfriends. Violet loved baking, especially colonial doll cakes for birthdays and was well known for her tomato soup cake. Besides cooking, she enjoyed mushroom and blueberry picking, crocheting afghans, reading, babysitting her grandson, and saying her daily rosary and praying to St. Jude, her patron saint. Later in life she became quite active in the senior citizens group in Old Lyme. She will be remembered for her kind heart, positive spirit, and razor sharp wit. She wants all her family and friends to know she loved you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck."

Monday, September 28, 2009

All 50 states

"He liked the New York Yankees and the New York Giants. He also liked the UConn women's basketball team. His hobby was collecting the United States quarters."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Having picnics, sharing stories

"As a young lady, Audrey loved dancing, roller skating, and ice skating. In her latter years, she enjoyed square dancing and crocheting. She spent a lot of time with her little dogs and had a green thumb when it came to growing indoor plants. Her favorite pastimes were shopping on QVC, attending auctions, and spending time with family having picnics and sharing stories."

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'd like to have know him

"Ian was much loved and admired for his prodigious talent, uncommon intellect, and quirky humor. Blending easily in all crowds, whether wearing paint splattered shorts, seersucker or a tuxedo, he found the words to engage any individual into detailed, knowledgeable conversation."

A lady of grace indeed

"She was a lady of style, grace, charm, gentle humour, culture and talent, and a true mistress of the domestic arts. A gracious hostess, she set a table that was second to none, especially at Christmas."

(From the obituary of Yolande Q. Lono of St. John's, Newfoundland, as written by her son, Simon Lono)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A charming individual

"Bob was a man that walked as easily in the company of kings as he did with commoners, but God help those who put on airs. Yet he could charm the petals off a rose."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Poll: Two days left to vote!

Respondents to our first poll are evenly divided on what they’d like to see in their obits. Forty percent said they’d like their obits “to reflect the person I really am” while the same percentage said they want “all kinds of stuff in there, true or not.”

Just 20% said they hope their obits “will include some nice things about me.”

Let us know what you’d like to see after you’re gone. Vote today!

One of the first that struck me ...

"Mrs. Johnson lived all her life in Lyme. Her greatest joys were her flower and vegetable gardens. She enjoyed home life and walking her dogs in the woods with her husband, Herbert."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Way to go!

"William A. Cross, Jr. MMCM(SS), USN, Ret. went out with a bang on July 4, 2009."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Elvis' cook, Mary Jenkins Langston, 78

"For breakfast, he'd have homemade biscuits fried in butter, sausage patties, four scrambled eggs and sometimes fried bacon," she said. 'I'd bring the tray up to his room, he'd say, 'This is good, Mary.' He'd have butter running down his arms."

(h/t to Debbie Seaman)

The future of obits?

I was talking with Joe Mandese, editor in chief of MediaPost Communications, today about obits. He remembered being an intern at the New Haven Register and the guy who handled obits was a stern and humorless guy who drummed into Joe's head the importance of the obituary.

He also told Joe to be sure the info came from a funeral home and not from families (who could make up information). Those were, of course, the days of free obit space.

I asked him what he thought would happen to the obit where families got to bury their dead without the funeral home involved and Joe said, "Someday there won't be obits; they'll just be blogs."

What do you think?


"Mr. Harty loved the outdoors, was an avid fisherman, and enjoyed making homemade maple syrup."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

She found comfort in the election

"She used her ever-quick mind, her sense of humor, her resilience and her perseverance to create new possibilities for those around her. She was thrilled by the election of President Obama last fall and found comfort in the hope he represents."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Such stamina

"She never smoked, drank or cursed, although maintaining this harried household certainly provided ample grounds to take up any or all of the three."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Perfect stove top popcorn -- and toast

"Kathy frequently told her family that she hoped to be remembered for her perfect stove top popcorn and toast."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

He preferred eels to the piano.

"He went to Kedron State and Brisbane State High schools, where he failed the junior certificate and left at 15. Young Barrett had other strings to his bow, however.

"Realising her son was not academically minded, Mabel Barrett, a talented pianist, decided that he should take up a musical instrument. Ray preferred catching eels in Kedron Creek to practising the piano."

(h/t to Vanessa Horwell)

And so it is said.

"She enjoyed crocheting, crafts of all sorts, word puzzles and was an avid reader. She also enjoyed playing card games with her grandchildren, BBQ's, the color red, a colorful tee shirt, a good sweatshirt and a good laugh. Let it be said she was quite the connoisseur of hamburgers and enjoyed them more than anything."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Caught a ball during a Red Sox game!

"Jean was an avid Red Sox fan who once caught a baseball during a game. She liked to crochet, making afghans for all her family, she grew beautiful flowers and vegetables in her many gardens in Oakdale. Jean was proud of her large collection of salt and pepper shakers; she has at least one set from every state plus many others."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A master of the obituary

"Hugh Massingberd, who died on Christmas Day aged 60, always used to insist, during his time as obituaries editor of The Daily Telegraph, that understatement was the key to the form."

You can read more about this delightful man here: Thanks, Charlie Clark!

Peggy Olson, perhaps?

Rosina worked for Benton & Bowles advertising agency prior to marrying and raising her family, which she did successfully despite her lifelong reluctance to advance her culinary arts, particularly when they interfered with her tennis.

Monday, September 14, 2009

From the Hawkeye State

Thanks to my sister-in-law:

"Cora was well-known for raising thousands of dollars for charities each year by collecting cans in Greenwood Park, a territory she guarded tenaciously, arising at 5 a.m. if she found someone had beaten her to a cache of cans. ... She was a dedicated and liberal Democrat, although she tolerated some Republican friends when she saw redeeming characteristics in them."


I have been reading the obituaries in my local paper for years. Perhaps since I became a newspaper journalist back in 1975, news about people has always fascinated me and never more than in the obituaries can we learn the fine details of a person's life.

Most obits contain information that includes the usual details, date of birth, place of birth and relatives both dead and surviving. But since newspapers began charging for obits, they have allowed survivors to include whatever facts they want to pay for -- by column length.

So now we have a wealth of information never before included in an obit. Take this paragraph from a departed man's obit:
"It was his personal philosophy that one's civic duty is to make plain what your thoughts are on the affairs of state. To sum up this sentiment, the ancient Greek statesman Pericles said, 'Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.'"

Such an opinion we now have of this individual, that he not only was a civic-minded man but his descendants felt a need to let the world know in this way.

I'll be posting lines from obits on a daily basis. Please feel free to send me items you find by emailing them from the publishing party. Nota bene: This is not a place to make fun of the departed. Typos are not encouraged.