And the winning obituaries are …

Every Sunday I start the day by reading the obits of notable people who have passed. I started this peculiar habit one Sunday morning after I spotted the obit of a lovely man who was the partner of someone I once worked with. I’d heard through the grapevine he had AIDS but the last time I’d seen him, he seemed in such a jolly mood that I allowed myself to believe the disease wouldn’t take him. The obit, lovingly written his partner, actually made me smile. The best obits will make you smile or at least, make you wonder how such a splendid person could have existed in this dysfunctional world.

It’s always sad to read the obit of someone I knew decades ago and lost touch with. But, at the same time, it allows me to remember them fondly.

Here are examples from obits in today’s paper that are meant to make you smile. Two were written by professionals. See if you can match the sentence to the men being honored (below):

  1. As people walked by, he would greet each one in his high pitched voice with “Hey, mama!’ Or “Hey, young man!”
  2. From his Ted speech: “It isn’t the value or the size of a gift that truly matters. It’s how you hold it in your heart.”
  3. [He] loved cracking jokes and carried around a card in his pocket with the word “JOKE” written on it to emphasize to friends he was just having a fun time.

And the men honored were:

A. Dr. D. Henry Cheu, a surgeon and member of the El Capitan Eating Club whose father was the first person of Chinese descent to graduate from Stanford University. Eating Clubs accepted students who were ineligible for membership in college fraternities for racial or religious reasons, e.g. Asians, Mexicans and Jews.

B. Willie Ellis, a homeless peddler described as “the Beloved Mayor of Lake Merritt.”

Lake Merritt, a man made lake in the center of Oakland. Safe during the day but not after dark!

C. Werner Reich, a holocaust survivor who learned the power of magic in Auschwitz. “Having a deck of cards in Auschwitz was like finding a gorilla in your bathroom.”

Werner Reich’s book

The answers are!

  1. Willie Ellis, the Mayor
  2. Dr. Cheu, the Jokester
  3. Werner Reich, the Magician

Willie made the front page of the Obit section!

17 thoughts on “And the winning obituaries are …

  1. From his Ted speech: “It isn’t the value or the size of a gift that truly matters. It’s how strong you are when you try to drag it away.” That’s the one I saw. Duke

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