The Coastal Star

Editorial: Obituaries convey spirit of life

“Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

— Mark Twain

Freelance writer and frequent Coastal Star contributor Ron Hayes posted the above quote on his Facebook page to recognize the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death on April 21. It was funny, timely and prescient.

This past month as we were confronted with tax time, we were also reminded of life’s other inevitability: death.

We saw a large number of our local residents concluding their life journeys in March and April. You can read about these special members of our community on Pages 22 and 23. Interesting people, lives well-lived.

We also learned of Ron Hayes’ national award from the Society of Professional Obituary Writers honoring his long-form obituary about Bill Dunn published in the December issue of The Coastal Star.
Writers from major newspapers across the country enter this competition, so it is indeed an honor.

Writing obituaries is a tricky business. The writer talks with family and friends when they are often at their most vulnerable. Still, we often find it is the smile or wink that made the deceased special. As a result, you are likely to find that your neighbor is being remembered for his or her spirit as much as for accomplishments.

Our hope is these written tributes will be saved by friends and family for future generations to appreciate the exceptional lives of their predecessors. We do our best to get it right and regret when we publish something a family finds uncomfortable.

Ron got Bill Dunn’s life and spirit right, and a national organization of obituary specialists agreed.

It verified what we’ve thought all along: To chronicle exceptional lives requires exceptional writers — like Ron.

— Mary Kate Leming, editor

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Comment by Darlene E. Erickson, Ph.D. on May 25, 2010 at 3:50pm
I am a great fan of Mark Twain and his work. Time magazine did a great article in its Making of America issue on July 14, 2008 entitled "The Dangerous Mind of Mark Twain and How He Changed the Way We View Politics." It is really worth finding and reading again. Special thanks to Ron Hayes for reminding us to "Mark Twain! once again this year. We need Twain's kind of mind in the U.S. once again.
Comment by John K on May 1, 2010 at 10:36am
I want to congratulate Ron Hayes for his award for the Bill Dunn obit. Ron also did a great job for Mark B Alba who passed away in June 09. It's not easy to memorialize someone you never met and Ron does an excellent job. Thank you Ron and thanks to the Coastal Star

John Kiggins
County Pocket

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