1"Irishman Dies from Stubbornness, Whiskey"—and goes viral
Massachusetts resident Chris Connors, 67, ill with pancreatic cancer, waved off talk of an obituary, telling his family only "to make it funny." To say they rose to the occasion is an understatement.
According to his death notice, entitled "Irishman Dies from Stubbornness, Whiskey," Connors died after trying to box his bikini-clad hospice nurse just moments earlier after telling an inappropriate joke. (Sorry, we can't reprint it here.) His kids recall his last moments:
"Anyone else fighting ALS and stage 4 pancreatic cancer would have gone quietly into the night, but Connors was stark naked drinking Veuve in a house full of friends and family as Al Green played from the speakers. The way he died is just like he lived: he wrote his own rules, he fought authority, and he paved his own way. And if you said he couldn't do it, he would make sure he could."
The hilarious remembrance was written by his daughter, Caitlin, and her cousin, Elizabeth, over drinks. (Connors clearly would have approved— "Absolut Vodka and Simply Orange companies are devastated by the loss of Connors.")
Tales of Connor's well-lived life have gone viral—the 40 days he spent foundering in a raft off the coast of Panama, his passion for swimming in the North Atlantic in January, and his notable work testing birth control devices ("with some failures, notably Caitlin Connors, 33; Chris Connors, 11; and Liam Connors, 8") were all touched upon. His family is crediting the obituary with helping raise $10,000 for Connors' pet project, a local water safety fund. Contribute to The Chris Connors Fund here.
2The most heartbreakingly honest obituary ever
The 2016 obituary for 94-year-old Wilma Marie Voliva Black didn't just lift the veil off of her life—it ripped it to shreds, then shined a 5,000-watt light on the starkness that remained.
The reminiscence packed a one-two punch right out of the gate:
"Wilma Marie Voliva Black struggled into life over 94 years ago. Alone, Eva realized that her sixth child wasn't crying and unwrapped the umbilical cord from her only daughter's neck on December 11, 1921."
It goes on to detail Black's difficult childhood during the Depression, the discovery that her husband only married her to hide an affair, and her eventual move to assisted living. It has since been removed from Legacy.com where it first appeared, but the second half is above. Read it above and, quite literally, weep.
3The Nova Scotia man whose sense of humor shines in his self-penned obit
Judging by his obituary, it can be said Angus MacDonald had a pretty awesome sense of humor. Before he passed away on Good Friday 2016, he penned his own colorful, quirky obituary in Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Post.
"I bought the farm. I bit the dust. So I guess I'm off to the promised land eh? The promised land! Imagine!"
MacDonald mused about how he'll be remembered and paid tribute to his family and his dog, who had passed in 2013.
"So anyway, I think I was a pretty nice guy, despite being a former punk and despite what some people would say about me. What did they know about me anyway? I loved my family and cared for them through good times and bad; I did my best....I guess if there's a place in the afterlife where little dogs and old dawgs go, then that's where you'll find me and Scarlett. Maybe I'll see you all there sometime."
His heartwarming words went viral with many of the condolences posted by people who never met the man but were moved by his last words.
"I did not have the pleasure of meeting you, but you have inspired me to write [my obituary]. That was awesome," wrote commenter Raylene Broussard. "Scarlett is awaiting you. Rest in peace."
4The Virginia woman who died to avoid voting in the 2016 election (according to her obit)
We can't blame her, really....
The death notice of a 68-year-old Virginia woman who passed away in May 2016 claimed she died to avoid the increasingly likely choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the upcoming presidential election.
“Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday,” the obituary read.
Husband Jim Noland said that one of their sons penned the political line and that it wasn't a shot at either candidate, but rather a way give a nod to Mary Anne's wicked sense of humor.
5The man who was remembered in his own words—and went viral
"Good Morning. So this is what the obituary page looks like, huh? I always wondered what it would look like with me on it. My name is Richard Somers, and I finally left this Earth on Monday evening after 87 incredible years."
Scranton, Pennsylvania resident Richard Somers made a lot of new friends two days after his passing in 2016, because of the unusual way his obituary was written—in the first person.
Somers' son Rick Jr. was the actual author, but family, friends—and even strangers—feel he captured his dad's spirit accordingly and the post went viral. The obit ends with a final wish to the reader, "I wish you all well in life, I hope you experience the joy and love I have come to know." The family believes their dad definitely would have liked all the attention.
6The family dispute that made it into a mother's obituary
Josie Anello, who died February 11, 2012, at 93, had an obit worded like many others. That is, until the stunner in the third line:
"She is survived by her Son, 'A.J.,' who loved and cared for her; Daughter 'Ninfa,' who betrayed her trust, and Son 'Peter,' who broke her heart."
The line revealed a long-standing rift between Angelo "A.J." Anello, who wrote and placed the obituary, and his two siblings—particularly his sister. Angelo, then 63, and sister Ninfa, then 65, accused each other of stealing from their mother. Both siblings denied the other's allegations but agreed on one thing—brother Peter cut himself off from the family more than 25 years ago and speaks to no one.
The rest of the family was devastated by the public airing of dirty laundry—let's hope they've patched things up since. (Life's too short, guys!)
7The firefighter whose children paid tribute to their dad's sense of humor in his obit
When firefighter William Ziegler passed away in July 2016, Sharah Currier and her siblings paid homage to his great sense of humor in his obit. Their hilarious tribute touched hearts and went viral, with several million people sharing it across social media.
The obituary begins: "William Ziegler escaped this mortal realm on Friday, July 29, 2016, at the age of 69. We think he did it on purpose to avoid having to make a decision in the pending presidential election."
Ziegler's time in the Navy is mentioned: "he only stuck it out for one war," as is his 25 years as a New Orleans firefighter, which ended when "he suddenly realized that running away from burning buildings made more sense than running toward them."
Family, friends, and readers who never knew Ziegler expressed their appreciation for the kids' tribute. "He must be smiling to know that his children inherited his grand sense of humor and shared it so we could all smile together," said user Yoda-Yat in a comment on NOLA.com.
Currier said the reaction has helped her and her siblings deal with the loss of their father.
8The children who wrote a vicious obituary to their abusive mother
The children of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick did not hold back on their abusive mother in her 2013 obit.
"Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935, and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults, she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.
On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure.
Most of us have found peace in helping those who have been exposed to child abuse and hope this message of her final passing can revive our message that abusing children is unforgivable, shameless, and should not be tolerated in a 'humane society.' Our greatest wish now is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America."
Daughter Katherine Reddick shared the story of their severe physical and mental abuse after consulting with her brother, Patrick. They grew up with four siblings in a Carson City orphanage after they were removed from their mother's home and had been estranged from her for more than 30 years. As children, they endured regular beatings, sometimes with a metal-tipped belt, and other abuse at the hands of their mother. Patrick later said the primary purpose of the death notice was to "to bring awareness to child abuse ... shame child abuse overall.”
9The man whose wife and girlfriend posted separate notices in the same paper
New Jersey resident Leroy “Blast” Bill Black passed away in 2016 and was remembered by two separate obituaries in the same newspaper—one from his wife and one from his girlfriend.
The death notices appeared in the same edition of The Press of Atlantic City. In the first, Black was described as being survived by his “loving wife Bearetta Harrison Black,” while the second said he was remembered by his “longtime girlfriend, Princess Hall." The paper ran both because “the wife wanted it one way and the girlfriend wanted it another way."