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July 25, 2007

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Janet

Larry, I miss the days of the unpaid obituary in the Register. Under the unpaid model, there was a formula for what to include so the reader was often able to understand why a person died and who their surrounding generations were. These days, because the obit is paid, the survivors have more control over the content and are not sharing details that would help the family researcher figure these things out. I have obituaries from newspapers over a hundred years old that give great detail about the decedent's ancestors and survivors, illnesses, movements around the country, etc. - great clues all these years later as I'm trying to piece together a family. I wish more folks would take the obituary for the opportunity that it really is - a chance to put the deceased person's life in context with those who came before and after. I'm certain that in those initial hours of grief, when the obit has to be written, it's not something on most peoples' minds. That's understandable, but sad. ~ Janet

Larry Lehmer

Obituary writing has definitely taken a dip in recent years, Janet, although great obits can still be found in the London newspapers. I understand that newspapers are hard-pressed to find new ways of wringing money out of their readers these days, but outsourcing obituaries to families in grief usually deprives the reader and the departed of the respectful final tribute we all deserve.

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