Some people believe writing obituaries is a morbid job, but in truth, only one line deals with death. The rest of the story focuses on the amazing lives people lead.
Whenever I hear about a death, I ask myself, “Did they live with passion? Did they accomplish great things? Did they touch other people’s lives in a positive or negative way? Did they contribute something to the world that was previously missing?” Then, I simply try to tell a good story using the facts at my disposal.
This year, I wrote more than 100 obituaries for The Blog of Death. I chronicled the lives of celebrities, criminals, artists, heroes and ordinary people who did extraordinary things. These obituaries were my personal favorites:
* Conrad Buchanan, a security guard who risked his life to save another
* Momofuku Ando, the inventor of “Chicken Ramen”
* Barbaro, the winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby
* Ken Black, one of the founders of the lighthouse preservation movement in the U.S.
* Robert Adler, the inventor of the TV remote control
* Brad Delp, the lead singer of the rock band Boston
* Lt. Jean Kennedy Schmidt, an American nurse who was held prisoner for nearly three years during World War II
* Jim Cronin, the owner of the Monkey World Ape Rescue Center
* Wayne Schenk, a New York man who won the lottery but was unable to use his winnings to save his life
* Wally Schirra, the only astronaut who flew in three of the U.S.’s pioneering space programs
* Yahweh Ben Yahweh, the infamous founder of a violent black supremacist sect
* Harvey Weinstein, a tuxedo manufacturer who was once kidnapped and buried alive
* Jan Romary, a champion foil fencer who competed in six Olympic Games
* Don Herbert, an actor who made science fun for millions of kids as “Mr. Wizard”
* Bob Evans, a restauranteur known for his fabulous sausage
* Matt Nagle, a quadriplegic who once participated in a mind-control experiment
* Irene Kirkaldy, a quiet icon of the civil rights era
* Leona Helmsley, a Manhattan hotelier with a reputation as the “Queen of Mean”
* Alex, the renowned African grey parrot who helped researchers better understand the avian brain
* Andre de Jongh, a Belgian nurse who helped hundreds of Allied airmen flee the Nazis during World War II
Side note: I also published more than 500 death notices on Writers We’ve Lost. Feel free to visit this blog and leave tributes to the writers, editors, journalists and authors who’ve died over the past year.