"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"

"Gulf Oil Spill: Remembering Deepwater Horizon's dead"

The daunting task of memorializing 11 men killed in the Gulf catastrophe. A brilliant piece by Anna M. Tinsley of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

Obit Patrol: criteria for inclusion

What qualifies someone to enter the lists of the Obit Patrol? I have been running this blog for a few months now, and as I read more, learn more and make more choices, some rules emerge.

First, you have to be dead. I have seen that some folks track the state of the aged and ill who are notable, even to the extent of running odds on the speculated times of their demises. Although there is a vulturous aspect to we who follow obituaries, I won't cross the line into anticipating a death.

Second, I can't pretend to attain comprehensiveness. The flood of death notices that fill the pages of publications and websites globally would have to be attended to by a small army. Additionally, those who are well-known in other parts of the world may not come to my attention, no matter how diligently I scan the non-American news. Sheer necessity and time constraints impose selectivity.

I believe that everyone deserves an obituary. We are all unique and memorable souls, and I hope that when we are done with this world our passing will be marked with respect and affection. Sometimes, when catastrophes and violence take hundreds of thousands of lives at a stroke, that will not happen. Tragically, to my sensibilities at least, lives are wasted, ignored, overlooked, destroyed, and are otherwise subject to the caprices of fate. If you lose someone, my heart is there for you, but I probably won't be able to recognize it here.

Moving into specifics -- violent, tragic and unusual death in itself doesn't merit coverage here. Murders, suicides and misadventures, by and large, are subjects more fit for news reports.

Also, you won't always find the saluted or historically significant here. Heads of state, military leaders and others who receive de facto obituary coverage from all the major media outlets are not likely to get onto my list. They are well-honored in the public arena.

As my motto states, I focus on those who have made positive contributions in their time, especially those whose lives involved the arts and entertainment.The songbirds, the writers, the filmmakers, artists, dancers, funny folk -- anyone who has put more into the world than they took is welcome here. For example, the man who helped create the bazooka died recently. I'm sure he was a decent, honorable man, but I didn't put him in, although it is arguable that his invention helped stop more deaths from occurring.

You also get points for being interesting. Did you live your life with flair? Did you maintain a positive attitude in the face of discouragement? Did you retain your sense of humor? Did you serve as a good example? Then you're in.

And, if you played baseball, I got your back. It's just a personal preference -- I love baseball.

I hope that I can present a full spread of significant and inspiring life stories to you. I hope to include young and old, men and women, all races and creeds. If you have nominations for people I may have missed, or any other questions or input, please let me know. Thank you for sharing this interest with me!

Gesang Martohartono

Indonesian singer and songwriter -- via the San Francisco Chronicle

Dorothy Kamenshek

Great female first baseman who was immortalized in "A League of Their Own" -- via WTOL

Carla Zilbersmith

Singer, actress and comedian -- via the L.A. Times. She faced her impending death from Lou Gehrig's Disease by staging a one-woman show about it.

John Shepherd-Barron

The man who invented the ATM -- via MSNBC

David Durston

Film writer and director best remembered for cult shocker "I Drink Your Blood" -- via the Hollywood Reporter

Don Engdahl

Enterprising journalist -- via the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat

Yvonne Loriod

Brilliant pianist
championed contemporary composers -- via the Guardian

Bobbejaan Schoepen aka Modest Schoepen

 Belgian performer did it all -- comedy, music, acting -- he even had his own amusement park! Via Wikipedia.

Mike Doyle

Special-effects wizard made movie magic -- via the Miami Herald

Hank Jones

Wonderful jazz pianist -- via the New York Times

John Davis Chandler

Actor specialized in playing killers and psychos -- via the West Virginia Gazette

Ronnie James Dio

Heavy-metal master -- via the  New York Times