Most obituaries are about as warm as a cover letter. Maybe every obit-writer feels she has to be sober and staid out of respect for the dead, but the result is that a complex life of loving, striving, petty thieving, and instagramming is reduced to a bland list.
Not in the case of Harry Weathersby Stamps.
Harry’s obituary in the Biloxi Sun-Herald is a remarkably tongue-in-cheek piece of writing that undoes the genre. In capturing the qualities that made Harry precisely this Harry and no other, it snapshots a gentleman both familiar and unusual—and by all accounts well worth knowing. His character is so tangible that it’s hard to believe we didn’t know him, that he didn’t write this himself, and that he’s gone.
Harry is so charmingly portrayed that writers, in particular, should look again: there’s a wealth to be learned from this essay. Here are five tips and tricks for writers courtesy of the world’s best obituary.