Tag: obituary

To the Summitt and Beyond

 
Pat Summitt
Pat Summitt, the legendary coach of Women’s Basketball at the University of Tennessee with the 1,000 yard death stare, passed away yesterday, aged 64.

I really don’t have an emotional attachment to the games I work for television. The level of play on the field can be great or be awful, it can be regular season or a championship game, it makes no difference. You do the work and you forget about it.

I cannot, however, forget the last time I saw Pat Summitt. It was April 18, 2012 at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. She had announced the previous season that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but vowed to keep on coaching as long as she could.

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Member Post

 

Morley Safer is dead – whatever that is. One of 60 Minutes old guard, he died today at 84 after retiring just last week. What was not well known about him is that he was among the many Canadian journalists who came to the US for opportunity and riches but for years steadfastly refused to […]

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A Strange but True Obituary

 

My wife and I read (among other things) the obituaries in our local newspaper. We’re getting to that age when people we know show up occasionally. I’ll say something like, “This guy was my boss for two years,” or my wife will say, “I know her from the Republican Club.” Neither of us knew the gentleman I’m about to describe to you. Here are the highlights of his obituary.

The gentleman’s name was J.C. Pellegrino, Jr. He was 98 years old, survived only by his wife and numerous nieces and nephews (apparently he had no children). This man joined the Navy right after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and stayed in until the war ended. He went on to get a Bachelor’s degree, then two Masters’ degrees. He worked for several federal agencies, then retired. Throughout this time, he volunteered for various civic organizations, as well as a Catholic group. He moved here to Aiken in 2004 (at age 86, no reason given), whereupon he immediately joined the local Catholic church and a pair of civic organizations, continuing his lifetime of service. The obit doesn’t say, but I’m willing to bet he worked right up to the day of his passing.

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Member Post

 

Says the bard, “…that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” A name is, of course, nothing more than a label, slapped on a baby the day that they’re born. It’s mostly meaningless. You can call a girl “Belle” but that doesn’t make her beautiful. You can name a […]

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Member Post

 

In my conservative teenage world, he was just a bit too strange and androgynous for my tastes. Still, he gained an improbable bit of 20th Century musical immortality for being Bing Crosby’s last duet partner. Cancer takes David Bowie at age 69. More

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Best Obituary This Year

 

shutterstock_221547055Yes, I know: the year is young.

Still, this is a pretty inspiring obit. I don’t know about you, but I’m a passionate obituary reader. For one thing, it’s always nice to turn to that page and not see your own name. For another, you come across some amazing stories. Like this one, from the NYTimes:

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RIP, Florence King

 

Florence KingI was saddened to see this morning that Florence King had passed yesterday. I don’t have time to write much here. National Review Online has a proper obituary.

When I was young and a budding conservative, I devoured the old National Review magazines, and one column I could not miss was the Florence King column, which I believe was on the back end of the issue. When I proclaim the rightful superiority of traditional conservatism, Florence King was one of those writers that had an impact on my thinking. Here’s how her Wikipedia entry characterizes her conservative philosophy:

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A Love Letter to Herself

 

Maureen1“Well, some things a man doesn’t get over so easy … Like the sight of a girl coming through the fields with the sun on her hair … kneeling in church with a face like a saint…” — John Wayne to Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man

I had seen her dozens of times before, but always in black and white. She flickered across my TV screen as the hauntingly beautiful Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and as the exasperated Mrs. Walker in the original Miracle on 34th Street. But at age 12, my folks bought their first color television and I saw Maureen FitzSimons, aka, Maureen O’Hara, in The Quiet Man.

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Member Post

 

Perhaps my favorite part of a newspaper these days is reading through the obituaries. Reading these mini bio blurbs allows me to see a cross range of local humanity, albeit exalted. I read one today (August 14th from the Staten Island Advance) that really moved me and was worth sharing. A certain Vincent Morana, age […]

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Death of the Flockfather

 

Union-Products-Flamingos-960x691Donald Featherstone, father of the plastic lawn flamingo, died Monday. He spent his final days in a room with pink sheets and a pair of his long-necked, spindly-legged creations flanking the fireplace. His wake is tomorrow, and his funeral mass will be held this Saturday. Millions of his pink children, the tribe of Phoenicopteris ruber plasticus, will survive him.

My family taught me to sneer at the plastic flamingo. To look down my nose at it. Lowbrow. Trailer-trash kitsch. The problem with a flamingo, though, is you can’t really win a sneering contest with that hooked beak. Flamingos spend their lives looking down their noses at everything. Even the plastic ones, whose facial features are subtly altered to give them a cuteness few live flamingos truly possess. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, how often in the staring contest between good taste and simple happiness, happiness ultimately wins. As their creator would put it, “I loved what I did. It’s all happy things… They have been called very tacky, but more than not, they’ve been called fun.” His wife of 40 years would add, “Donald always said, ‘You don’t take yourself too seriously because you’re not getting out alive anyway.’”

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A Century of Goodbyes

 

When I visited my last remaining grandparent this summer, she asked if I knew she turned 100. “Yes,” I said, speaking loudly so she could hear, “that’s so great!” “No, not really,” she replied quietly. “I’m tired, Jon. I’m ready.”

A sad moment, but I understood. Elma Aliina Teppo was born a month after Charlie Chaplin’s film debut. Three months before Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. She survived both world wars and a cold war, the Great Depression and several not-so-great ones. Two spouses, five kids and countless grandkids. A life well lived. But her friends and siblings had been gone for several years. It had been a century of goodbyes, and she was ready.

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We Salute You, Robin Williams

 

There are millions of Robin Williams videos being shared online in the wake of his death, all of us trying to get a handle on what we’ve suddenly lost. But I’ve got a clip here you probably haven’t seen. Five or six years ago Robin Williams did a USO tour for our troops. He was fresh out of rehab; maybe he was trying to get some healing for himself by giving back a little.

At some point in his routine, Williams is interrupted in dramatic fashion. Before you know it, he’s living through a comic’s worst nightmare, and the entire audience has literally turned its back on him. But he handles the situation just as you would hope.

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