Have you recently lost a friend or a loved one?
Looking for obituary examples?
Want to learn how to write an obituary?
Searching for obituary examples? If you’ve been tasked with writing an obituary, Congratulations! You’ve just received a very high honor. Your family or friends determined that you were someone closest to your departed friend or family member. And they probably realized that you would have the most to say about them.
Truly, writing an obituary is a job that comes with pride… and a little stress. However, with some tips from this article and through the many blog articles on Lastly.com’s site, you’ll have everything you need to write the best obit for your loved one.
The Purpose of an Obituary
Many obituaries repeat the factual details about a person’s life: birth and death, funeral or memorial services, family members’ names, and the names of those who preceded in death (died before your loved one). But what is the real importance of an obituary?
A good obituary should leave the reader with a sense of knowing something important about the deceased person, who they were, what mattered to them, and what difference they made in the lives of those around them. In a sense, an obituary is a window into their life story, and the reader is peeking in. We’ll have some interesting samples of obituaries for you to read at the end of this article.
The Basics of Writing an Obituary
Guess what! You can write obituaries. Yes, it’s true.
Good obituary writers don’t require special talents. In fact, anyone can write an obituary. The only requirements for writing obituaries would be knowing the deceased, taking the time to interview a few other people who knew him or her, and being willing to tell their story.
When writing an obituary, it's a good idea to take it in steps. Decide on the main points you want to make about the person, then create the obituary around those ideas. Can you illustrate each point with a short story? Decide which facts should be included. And, perhaps most importantly, How did you feel about your loved one or friend?
Don’t expect the obituary to be perfect when you finish. We can guarantee that it won’t be. Think of your first version as a draft copy that can be revised and rearranged as needed. When you finish your first draft, step away for a bit. Then come back to it with a clear mind so that you can make some thoughtful revisions.
Writing a good obituary can also be a therapeutic part of the grieving process, whether you are recovering from the death of a friend, family member or the death of a child. By taking the time to write about your loved one, you allow yourself to express your feelings and emotions about the deceased. Don’t be afraid to include this as part of your obituary or save it for the eulogy. Your words will provide comfort to your family and friends. And listening to your expressions of grief and loss will help them deal with their own emotions.
Read on to the end for a few obituary examples.
What to Include in an Obituary
Although there aren’t any rules when it comes to writing an obituary, generally your loved one’s obituary should include the following items. Keep in mind that you don’t have to include everything in this list, but you’ll certainly want to consider the most important things.
- Full Name of Deceased (include nicknames, AKA, aliases, maiden name)
- Age of Deceased
- Year of Birth
- Place of Birth
- Date of Death
- Parents' Names
- Spouse's or Significant Other's Name
- Children's Names
- Grandchildren's Names
- Brothers and Sisters
- Predeceased Relatives
- Residence (city and state)
- Military Service
- Employment, Clubs, Memberships, Affiliations, Organizations, Memberships
- Awards, Honors, Achievements
- Hobbies and Interests
- Funeral Arrangements: Date, Time, Location of Service and Visitation
- Cemetery for Burial or Internment
- Additional Information
- Flower Request
- Charitable Request (in lieu of flowers)
- A Closing Quotation, Song Lyric, Scripture, Verse, etc.
- Photo and/or Emblem (such as Military Logo, etc.)
If you need any further help, your local newspaper probably offers a free obituary template through its website. Additionally, Lastly.com has tools that can help you write a great obituary. Browse our website for more information.
How to Make an Obituary Creative
Today, people are being more creative when it comes to obituary writing. So, there’s no need for an obituary to be dry and boring, and no more creative than a résumé. Here are a few beginner’s tips in writing a creative obituary.
- Ask questions.
- Add emotion.
- Use humor.
Yes, you can use humor in an obituary. We know it’s a sad and difficult time, but laughter (as they say) is the best medicine. It’s during these times of grief and overwhelming sadness, that everyone could use a good laugh. And perhaps your loved one would rather you smile and celebrate their wonderful life.
Share unique details about the person’s life, perhaps something that few people knew about (nothing that would be embarrassing, of course). What made them special, fun to be around, interesting, well liked, etc.? You may even want to experiment with writing the obituary in their own voice or style so that their personality shines through best. Then read it to a few family members to get some feedback before you print it.
Several Creative and Clever Obituary Examples
Sometimes the best way to start writing an obituary is to first get some inspiration of your own. When you read a creative or interesting obituary, you can be inspired to write a funny or fascinating obituary too.
When you read these cleverly written obituaries, take note of the stories they tell. Pay attention to any theme, voice, story, etc. Here are some obituary examples to help you write your own.
BROWNLEY, RAYMOND "BIG AL" ALAN
December 30, 1931 - September 21, 2014
Raymond Alan Brownley of Pittsburgh (Ingram Boro), Pennsylvania, died on September 21, 2014, at the age of 82, but his larger-than-life persona and trademark stubbornness will not be forgotten.
He was born on December 30, 1931, in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest son of the late William Franklin Brownley (born on October 28, 1894, in Newtown, Virginia, and died October 1, 1977, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and Lucille Beverly Fauntleroy Brownley (born February 14, 1896, in King William, Virginia, and died October 8, 1956, in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania). Affectionately known as Big Al by his family and many friends, he was a plumber by trade, a tremendous gardener and avid hunter. He also enjoyed fishing and proudly displayed the stuffed barracuda he caught back in 1965, much to the dismay of his wife, Agnes Bargo Brownley, to whom he was married to for 24 years.
He despised canned cranberry sauce, wearing shorts, cigarette butts in his driveway, oatmeal, loud-mouth know-it-alls, Tabasco sauce, reality TV shows, and anything to do with the Kardashians.
But Big Al had many loves, too. He loved his wife, Agnes Bargo Brownley, who preceded him in death in 1990. He also dearly loved his children and grandchildren. Famously opinionated and short-tempered, Big Al handed these qualities down to his daughter, Jill Ann Brownley of Phoenix, Arizona, a sharp-tongued character in her own right. Attending trade school to be a plumber instead of going to college, Big Al's strong work ethic and keen sense of wisely saving and investing his money live on with his son, Jeffrey Allen Brownley (Jill Shafranek Brownley), of New York. He took extreme pride in his two adorable grandchildren Derek Brownley (5) and Alexis Brownley (3), who affectionately called him Grandpa Al. He also loved milk shakes, fried shrimp, the Steelers, the Playboy channel, Silky's Gentlemen’s Club, taking afternoon naps in his recliner, hanging out at the VFW, playing poker, eating jelly beans by the handful, and his hunting dogs-his favorite being Holly Hill Rip Van Winkle, a loyal beagle that answered to the nickname of Rip. Big Al was world-renowned for his lack of patience, not holding back his opinion, and a knack for telling it like it is. He was highly proficient at cursing. He liked four-letter words just about as much as four-wheel drive pick-up trucks. He was a connoisseur of banana cream pie and a firm believer that ham sandwiches should only be served on Mancini's bread. He always told you the truth, even if it wasn't what you wanted to hear. He was generous to a fault, a pussy cat at heart, and yet he sugar-coated absolutely nothing. To quote Winston Churchill: "He was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."
His fondness of spaghetti Westerns was only surpassed by his love of bacon, beer and butter pecan ice cream. He fondly reminisced about good friends, good drinks and good times at the Tri-Valley Sportsmen’s Club in Burgettstown. He was a long-time member of the Elks Club in McKees Rocks where he frequently bartended and generously donated his tips to charity. Quite a teller of tales, Big Al's elaborate stories often were punctuated with the phrase, "And that's when I kicked his ass." He enjoyed outlaw country music: Waylon, Willie, Hank, Johnny. He was also on a first-name basis with the Four Horsemen of liquor: Jack, Jim, Johnnie and Jose. Big Al had strong beliefs in which he never wavered: dog shit makes the best garden fertilizer; Heinz ketchup does not belong on a hotdog; and PennDOT should be embarrassed of the never-ending construction, detours and potholes on Route 28.
With his love for gardening and passion for hunting, Big Al was locally sourcing his food for decades long before it was the "in thing" to do. While a necessity in his youth growing up during the Depression, this passion for being self-sufficient was carried throughout his whole life. This Depression baby was ahead of his time with "being green," as evidenced by the approximately 87 "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" containers stacked neatly in his kitchen cupboard. The biggest challenge was actually finding the butter in his refrigerator with 13 containers of leftovers that all looked the same.
Big Al was known for his timeless words of wisdom, including "Life is hard; but it's harder if you're stupid" and "Don't be a jackass." He had a life-long ménage a trois with his homemade chili and Gas-X. He had a great fondness for sardines on crackers, stuffed cabbage (which he lovingly called hunky hand grenades), making turtle soup, and eating BLTs. And his famous holiday eggnog had enough whiskey to grow hair on your chest.
Also known as the Squirrel Whisperer, he communicated with the local red-tailed squirrels and fed them peanuts out of his hand. He took pride in his time served in the Navy on the USS San Marcos during the Korean War, often waxing nostalgia that the worst meal he'd ever eaten was Shit on a Shingle (creamed chipped beef on toast). His mantra of a girl in every port often led to a fight in every port. With a stink eye towards organized religion, Big Al was more spiritual than religious and enjoyed reading the Bible before bed each night and watching "church on TV" every Sunday morning.
What he lacked in stature, he compensated with an over-abundance of charisma, charm and feistiness. Big Al took fashion advice from no one. With his trademark white, v-neck t-shirts and strategically coiffed comb-over, his comfort far outweighed any interest in the latest fashion trends. He was well-stocked with white shoe polish to keep his tennis shoes looking pristine for prime rib dinners at Longhorn Steakhouse.
In the last few years, Big Al's short-term memory loss was getting the best of him. On December 29, 2012-the day before his 81st birthday-he had a stroke that was a turning point in the decline of his health. His devout feistiness and stubbornness had served him well throughout his life. And even in his waning months, he was a model of strong will and sheer determination right up until the end of his journey here on earth. He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by many friends, neighbors, nieces, nephews, and bun heads.
Also preceding Big Al in death were his older siblings: William Franklin Brownley Jr., Robert Fauntleroy Brownley, Richard Leonard Brownley, Virginia Lee Brownley Barnes, and Louise Beverly Brownley Kindle.
Tremendous heartfelt thanks go to Stacey Schaeffer and Barb Casey, truly compassionate and exceptional hospice nurses at ViaQuest Hospice, as well as Laniece Butler, who provided much more than just comfort for Big Al, but also provided a sense of humor, peace and tranquility during his transition from this life into the next. Many thanks also to the wonderful staff at Asbury Heights Nursing Home in Mt. Lebanon.
Visitation 6-8 p.m. Thursday, 1-3 and 6-8 p.m. Friday at the Schepner-McDermott Funeral Home, Inc., 165 Noble Ave., Crafton, where the Funeral Service will be held 10 a.m. Saturday with interment to follow, with full military honors, in Mount Calvary Cemetery, McKees Rocks. In lieu of the traditional Irish Wake, Family and friends are cordially invited to Downey's House Restaurant, 6080 Steubenville Pike, Robinson Twp., PA 15136, for a Celebration of Life Luncheon at Noon for a mandatory shot and a beer, in a final toast in Big Al's honor, the greatest Dad in the world.
Penny Marshall, ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Star and Movie Director, Dies at 75
Obituary as it appeared in the New York Times
Penny Marshall, the nasal-voiced co-star of the slapstick sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” and later the chronically self-deprecating director of hit films like “Big” and “A League of Their Own,” died on Monday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 75.
Her publicist, Michelle Bega, said the cause was complications of diabetes. Ms. Marshall had in recent years been treated for lung cancer, discovered in 2009, and a brain tumor. She announced in 2013 that the cancer was in remission.
Ms. Marshall became the first woman to direct a feature film that grossed more than $100 million when she made “Big” (1988). That movie, a comedy about a 12-year-old boy who magically turns into an adult (Tom Hanks) and then has to navigate the grown-up world, was as popular with critics as it was with audiences.
The Washington Post said it had “the zip and exuberance of a classic romantic comedy.” The Los Angeles Times described it as “a refreshingly grown-up comedy” directed “with verve and impeccable judgment.” Mr. Hanks received his first Oscar nomination for his performance.
Four years later she repeated her box-office success with “A League of Their Own,” a sentimentally spunky comedy about a wartime women’s baseball league with an ensemble cast that included Madonna, Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell and Mr. Hanks.
In between, she directed “Awakenings” (1990), a medical drama starring Robert De Niro as a patient coming out of an encephalitic trance and Robin Williams as the neurologist who helps him. “Awakenings,” based on a book by Oliver Sacks, was only moderately successful financially, but Mr. De Niro received an Academy Award nomination.
A writer for Cosmopolitan magazine once commented that Ms. Marshall “got into directing the ‘easy’ way — by becoming a television superstar first.” That was a reference to her seven seasons (1976-83) as Laverne DeFazio, the brasher (yet possibly more vulnerable) of two young roommates, brewery assembly-line workers, on the hit ABC comedy series “Laverne & Shirley,” set in 1950s and ’60s Milwaukee.
In Hollywood Ms. Marshall had a reputation for instinctive directing, which could mean endless retakes. But she was also known for treating filmmaking as a team effort rather than a dictatorship.
That may or may not have been a function of her self-effacing personality, which colleagues and interviewers often commented on. But in 1992 Ms. Marshall confessed to The New York Times Magazine that she wasn’t completely guileless.
“I have my own way of functioning,” she said. “My personality is, I whine. It’s how I feel inside. I guess it’s how I use being female, too. I touch a lot to get my way and say, ‘Pleeease, do it over here.’ So, it can be an advantage — the anti-director.”
That attitude was also an essential aspect of her humor. When Vanity Fair asked her to identify her greatest regret, she said, “That when I was a size 0, there was no size 0.”
Carole Penny Marshall was born on Oct. 15, 1943, in the Bronx and grew up there, at the northern end of the Grand Concourse. Her father, Anthony, was an industrial filmmaker, and her mother, Marjorie (Ward) Marshall, taught dance. The family name had been changed from Masciarelli.
After she graduated from Walton High School, in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, Ms. Marshall attended the University of New Mexico. There she met and married Michael Henry, a college football player. They had a daughter, but the marriage lasted only two years, and Ms. Marshall headed for California, where her older brother, Garry, had become a successful comedy writer.
She made her film debut in “The Savage Seven,” a 1968 biker-gang drama, and had a small part the same year in “How Sweet It Is!,” a romantic comedy starring Debbie Reynolds and James Garner.
Ms. Marshall continued acting, mostly playing guest roles on television series, until she got her big break in 1971, when she was cast in the recurring part of Jack Klugman’s gloomy secretary, Myrna Turner, on the ABC sitcom “The Odd Couple.” Her brother, a producer of the show, got her the job, but nepotism had nothing to do with it when viewers fell in love with her poker-faced humor and Bronx-accented whine.
That same year she married Rob Reiner, who was then a star of the hit series “All in the Family.” He adopted her daughter, but they divorced in 1981, when “Laverne & Shirley” and Ms. Marshall were at the height of their television popularity.
That series grew out of a 1975 episode of “Happy Days,” in which Laverne (Ms. Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams), two fast blue-collar girls, turned up at the local hangout as blind dates for Richie Cunningham and Fonzie, the two lead characters.
When “Laverne & Shirley” ended in 1983, after considerable on-set conflict between the co-stars and a final season without Ms. Williams, it was the first time in 12 years that Ms. Marshall had not had at least a relatively steady job on a television series.
She began making a handful of films and television appearances. Then Whoopi Goldberg, a friend, asked her to take over for a director she wasn’t getting along with on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1986), a comic spy caper. (Ms. Marshall had directed a few episodes of “Laverne & Shirley.”) The movie was far from an unqualified success, but it led to “Big.”
Ms. Marshall’s two films after “A League of Their Own” were not as well received. “Renaissance Man” (1994), starring Danny DeVito as an adman turned teacher of Army recruits, was savaged by critics and earned only about $24 million, considerably less than it cost to make, in the United States (in contrast, “Big” earned almost $115 million). “The Preacher’s Wife” (1996), a remake of the heartwarming 1947 fantasy romance “The Bishop’s Wife,” starred Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. Critics found it likable but weak, and it brought in just under $50 million domestically.
Ms. Marshall did not direct again until 2001. “Riding in Cars With Boys,” a saga of teenage motherhood starring Drew Barrymore, earned mostly positive reviews but was a box-office disappointment. It was the last film Ms. Marshall directed. Her farewell to television direction was a 2011 episode of the multiple-personalities series “United States of Tara.”
She devoted some time to producing, notably with the 2005 movie inspired by the classic sitcom “Bewitched,” and took on the occasional acting job, including a 2012 guest spot on the series “Portlandia” and voice-over narration in the film “Mother’s Day” (2016), directed by Garry Marshall, who died in 2016.
In 2012 she published a best-selling memoir, “My Mother Was Nuts,” which began in her characteristically self-effacing way:
“I’m not someone who’s had to deal with much personal drama outside of the usual: growing up with parents who hated each other, two marriages and divorces, the ups and downs of various relationships, raising a daughter and watching friends crack up and overdose. There was the cancer thing, too. As you can see, though, there’s nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that most people don’t go through, nothing that says, ‘Penny, you were lucky to get through that one.’ ”
Her final screen appearance was on the new version of “The Odd Couple,” in a November 2016 episode that was a tribute to her brother, and featured cameos by stars from his many hit series.
Ms. Marshall, who lived in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, is survived by her older sister, Ronny; a daughter, the actress Tracy Reiner; and three grandchildren.
Critics sometimes accused Ms. Marshall of being overly sentimental, but she never apologized for that side of her work.
“I like something that tells a story or that tells me something I didn’t know,” she told The San Diego Union-Tribune in 1992 when asked about her taste in films. “It should have humor in it — or it should have heart.”
“And if it doesn’t,” she added, with what the reporter described as a sly grin, “I’ll make it have heart.”
Correction: December 18, 2018
An earlier version of this obituary misstated Ms. Marshall’s age and the year she was born. She was 75, not 76, and was born on Oct. 15, 1943, not 1942. An earlier version of a capsule summary with this obituary misstated part of the name of a movie Ms. Marshall directed. It is “A League of Their Own,” not “A League of Her Own.”
Correction: December 21, 2018
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the year Ms. Marshall and Rob Reiner divorced. It was 1981, not 1979.