"By writing or reading obituaries, we can discover ways to make our time on earth more worthwhile, more productive, more meaningful to others."
Alana Baranick, "Life on the Death Beat"

"'I always read the obituaries in The Times,' I explained to her. 'They make me bloody glad to be alive.'"
John Mortimer, "Rumpole's Return"

Alan Rich

 A wonderfully perceptive, honest and funny classical music writer -- via the Orange County Register. Gee, just what I want to be if I grow up! You can read his So I've Heard blog here.

Purvis Young

 Exuberant self-taught artist who transformed his environment -- via the New York Times

Natalia Lavrova

Two-time Olympics rhythmic gymnastics champion -- via the New York Times

Gene Lees

 Canadian jazz historian, essayist and lyricist -- via the L.A. Times. Most notably, he wrote the beautiful English lyrics for Gilberto's "Corcovado" -- "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars":

Richard Zimmerman, aka Dugout Dick, the Salmon River Caveman

Idaho hermit rejected civilization -- via the Idaho Statesman

Whitney Harris

Nuremberg prosecutor -- via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Michael Pataki

Well-known character actor -- via Variety. Trekkies will recall him fondly as Korax the Klingon from the original series episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles":

Glenn M. Walters

He was responsible for the development of the cubicle -- via the Philadelphia Inquirer

Elizabeth Kutkauskas DeVries

She owned the Star Drive-In in Olathe, Colorado; one of my favorite places to watch a movie -- via the Denver Post

Myron Davis

Famed photographer -- via the Chicago Sun-Times

Ralph Snodsmith

Gardening expert gave advice on the radio for 35 years on WOR -- via the New York Times

Werner Schroeter

German film and stage director -- via the New York Times

Carl Smith

Country music figure from the 1950s -- via the Guardian

Montague Haltrecht

Novelist and performer -- via the Guardian

Keith Elam, aka Guru

Influential rapper -- via the L.A. Times

Guru - Lifesaver
Uploaded by rikma. - See the latest featured music videos.

Keli McGregor

Colorado Rockies president, and the son of my high-school football coach -- via the Denver Post

Biljana Kovacevic Vuco

Serbian human rights activist -- via the Washington Post

Dorothy Height

Civil rights leader -- via the Washington Post. Her fight against racial prejudice and for women's rights began in 1937. "If the times aren't ripe, you have to ripen the times," she said.

Tom Fleming

Scottish actor and broadcaster -- via the Times of London. His mellifluous voice made him the go-to commentator at British occasions of state

Judith Bumpus

 British radio arts producer -- via the Independent. Note: I am a radio enthusiast. In England, it is still a vibrant medium for narrative work and artistic experimentation. Please read about her projects -- this is the kind of work I dream of doing! And she focused on subjects typically thought of as too highbrow or specialized to provoke interest. A fascinating and inspiring life.

Allen Swift, aka Ira Stadlen

Allen Swift in character as "Captain Allen," host of the Popeye cartoons on WPIX-TV.

Voice actor and kids' TV show host -- via News from Me. He was the voice of Howdy Doody for a year after host Buffalo Bob suffered a heart attack in September 1954. He went on to voice a multitude of characters in Rankin/Bass animated projects. Most memorably for me, he voiced the evil Baron Barracuda and others in the syndicated "Diver Dan":

Never trust a fish with a German accent and a monocle.

And he played Simon Bar Sinister in "Underdog":

UPDATE ON APRIL 27: Here's the belated New York Times obituary --

Virginia Kuzman

 A happy, positive person. Not anyone "special" or "important," but obviously someone who had a good attitude and lots of love to share with the world. Via the Daily Breeze

Dede Allen

One of the best film editors of all time -- her innovations were revolutionary -- via the L.A. Times