"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"

Bill Erwin

Venerable character actor -- via the L.A. Times.

Nick Santo aka Nick Santamaria

Lead singer of the doo-wop group The Capris -- via rock-the-jukebox.com. Their biggest hit: 1961's
There a Moon Out Tonight."

Grant McCune

Oscar-winning visual effects designer -- via deadline.com.

Jacqueline Courtney

Actress -- via welovesoaps.net.

Steve Boros

MLB player, manager and executive -- via the Miami Herald.


Color photographic film -- via the New York Times. The 75-year-old product was deemed the most superior for slides and film; its richness of color, long-lasting quality in dark storage and unique quality of light captured makes it an irreplaceable medium for amateurs and artists alike.

Bobby Farrell

Singer and dancer with Boney M -- via the BBC.

Sidney "Mean Gene" Kelton

Guitarist, harmonica player and singer/songwriter who covered a variety of musical styles -- via 39 Live.

John Doyle

Champion hurler -- via the Irish Times.

Robert Macauley

Humanitarian -- via the New York Times.

Dov Yudkovsky

The father of modern Israeli journalism -- via the Washington Post.

Jack Gurry

One of those most rare of human creatures, a bon vivant -- via the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Jayaben Desai

Laborer who fought for the rights of exploited immigrant workers -- via the Guardian. Here's a great quote from her -- "What you are running is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips. Others are lions who can bite your head off. We are those lions, Mr Manager."

Elizabeth Cramp

Artist -- via the Independent.

Michael Hogg aka Mushroom Mick

"The world's worst busker" -- via the Bury Times.

Dave Giegerich

Musician and vocalist, specializing in dobro and steel guitar -- via caringbridge.org.

Roger Kotoske

Artist and teacher -- via the Denver Post. His sculpture in Denver's Burns Park, pictured below, is an indelible part of my city memories.

Geraldine Huff Doyle

Model for the famous "We Can Do It" poster from World War II -- via voy.com.

Aron Abrams

TV comedy writer and producer -- via the New York Post.

Frances Ginsberg

Operatic soprano -- via the New York Times.

Jack Towers

Sound engineer -- via the Washington Post. On November 7, 1940, he and Dick Burris made one of the most important live recordings in history -- the Duke Ellington Orchestra at the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo, North Dakota. This unique artifact shows the band at one of its peaks, and gives the listener an astonishing feel for an evening with a great musical genius.

Bill Lajoie

Baseball player, scout, manager and executive -- via USA Today.

Zeferino Nandayapa

Marimba player -- via informador.com.mx.

Agathe von Trapp

One of the von Trapp Family Singers -- via the Hollywood Reporter. They escaped the Nazis; their story inspired "The Sound of Music."

Wade "Boom Boom" Crane aka Billy Johnson

Billiards artist -- via Channel 11 in Atlanta.

Qian Yunhui

Anti-corruption activist -- via the New York Times. He fought illegal land seizures, and was crushed to death by a truck. The government says it was an accident; many eyewitnesses say he was held down by four men and run over. More from Chinasmack --. And yet another, more detailed update from AP via the Washington Examiner on 1/18/11.

Harold Blanchard

Jazz pianist, composer and arranger -- via the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Bill Leslie Maddox

Drummer -- via the Houston Chronicle.

Denis Dutton

Philosopher, skeptic, critic of bad writing, Internet entrepreneur, art theorist; founder of Arts & Letters Daily, a great Web site -- via the Huffington Post.
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Joan "Rusty" McNeil

Rusty and Keith McNeil.

Folk singer and music historian -- via the L.A. Times.

Robin White

Writer and would-be secessionist -- via the L.A. Times. He desired for northern California to become its own sovereign entity, and, when the effort failed, he said memorably, "Well, if at first you don't secede . . ."

Billy Taylor

Jazz pianist, composer, TV and radio host, and educator -- via the Washington Post. He was taught by Art Tatum; he played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis -- to name a very few. He was an eloquent and far-reaching ambassador for jazz -- thank you Dr. Taylor!

Sun Hongjie

Journalist -- via the Washington Post.

Lorenzo Pimentel

Master craftsman of guitars -- via the Washington Post.

Max Starkloff

Disability rights activist -- via the St. Louis Beacon.

Eric Prewitt

Sportswriter and editor -- via AP.

Dary Reis

Actor -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com.

Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu

Actor -- via AFP.

Aldo Berti

Actor -- via westernsallitaliana.blogspot.com.

Judith Irwin

"Educator, poet, mentor, musician, historian, traveler, humanist, nature lover" -- via TDN.

Larry Dingman

Beloved bookseller -- via the Pioneer Press.

Daniel Cook

Outdoors writer and editor -- via WHNT.

Robert McGiffert

Journalist and educator -- via the Missoulian.

Bernie Wilson

Soul singer -- via NME. Best known as a member of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the great Philly soul group, which produced hits such as "Wake Up Everybody," "If You Don't Know Me by Now," and "Bad Luck."

Donetta (Dorothy) Jones

Dorothy is on the left.

Singer with the Cookies -- via www.voy.com. The Cookies were an essential part of the R & B/early rock 'n' roll experience. They had hits with "Chains" and "Don't Say Nothin' (Bad About My Baby)," and they sang backup on "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" and "The Loco-Motion" . . . Dorothy was the mainstay of the group during its 1954-1967 existence.

Teena Marie aka Marie Christine Brockert

R & B Singer/songwriter/musician -- via Rolling Stone.

Jack Tracy

Former editor of Downbeat and producer of many jazz recordings -- via Jazz Wax. And here's part of a long and fascinating interview Steven A. Cerra conducted with him that appears on the marvelous blog, Jazz Profiles.

Myrna Smith

Singer and songwriter -- via Classic Pop Icons. As a member of the Sweet Inspirations, she sang backup for Elvis alongside Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston's mother.

Mohammed Amin Sweeney

Malay literature expert -- via Asiaone News.

Bud Greenspan

Documentary filmmaker, writer and producer -- via the New York Times. His subject was sports, specifically the Olympics. He created extensive chronicles of Olympians and their efforts, "focusing on the uplifting stories of athletes facing triumph and tragedy. He left the unsavory stories for others to chronicle," according to Richard Sandomir of the Times. This approach proved popular and inspiring, and influenced many others -- including yours truly. Here's a clip that typifies his smooth, well-edited, clear and focused narrative approach --