Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Obit Review

People of a certain age read obituaries.

One of my regrets is that an old friend of mine, a distinguished historian of the Southwest and the editor of a book I wrote on the Arizona Right to Work law, passed away in Tucson and I didn't learn of his death until months later. Sometimes, even a rigid system of checking the obits fails. The Phoenix papers didn't mention his passing. 


Anyway, what I've noticed is an odd moment of hesitation when you see someone listed who seems vaguely familiar and then you spend a few seconds trying to recall how the two of you might have crossed paths. [Recently, I saw such an obituary and raked through my memory until the answer emerged: the man had been a witness in an investigation I'd conducted.]

The obituaries in The Arizona Republic are pretty standard although the paper has started to write lengthy stories about individuals of special interest. Those are helpful but my favorite - does that sound macabre? - obituaries are in The New York Times and the British papers because those are colorful and beautifully written. I still recall one Times of London obituary for an old British Army officer. It mentioned that he "did not tolerate any poodle-faking in the mess...."

Look it up.


Wally Bock said...

I would add The Economist to your list. They usually only do a single obit a week, but it's full and rich and often of someone you didn't know about or had forgotten about.

Michael Wade said...


Good choice!