"How are we to help those who die and those who have died?"
Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

"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"

Etta James aka Jamesetta Hawkins

One of the greatest singers of the past 100 years -- via CNN. She could do it all -- R & B, doo-wop, jazz, soul, blues, rock 'n' roll, gospel. A hitmaker whose harsh life strongly influenced her sound.

Johnny Otis aka John Alexander Veliotes aka "The Godfather of Rhythm and Blues"

Musician, bandleader, songwriter, impresario, disc jockey, talent scout, political activist, a preacher, artist, and author -- via the New York Times. He discovered and produced Esther Phillips, the Coasters, Etta James, Hank Ballard, Jackie Wilson and many others. A genius!

Gustav Leonhardt

Harpsichordist, organist and conductor -- via the New York Times.

Angelo Bowers

Comedian -- via the L.A. Times.

Miguel Couturier

Actor -- via charter.net.

Mario Maranzana

Actor -- via thewildeye.co.uk.

Betty Jane Rhodes

Singer and actress -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com.

Evelyn Stevens

Singer -- via the Sacramento Bee.

Dorothy Morris

Actress -- via TCM.

Felix Shuman

Actor -- via the Chicago Sun-Times.

Lars "Lasse" Kolstad

Actor -- via forum.blu-ray.com.

Henny Bario

Circus clown -- via the Telegraph.

Reginald Hill

Crime novelist -- via the Telegraph.

Charlie Collins

Musician -- via CMT.

Eleanor Ross Taylor

Poet -- via the Washington Post.

Elia S. Parsons

Co-author of "The Mother's Almanac" -- via the Washington Post.

Byron Donzis

Inventor -- via the Washington Post.

Richard Threlkeld

Journalist -- via the Washington Post.

Ion Oita

Restaurateur -- via the Washington Post. The highly-lauded "meatball king" of Romania.

Mary Ellen Avery

Medical researcher -- via the New York Times. It is estimated that her insights into respiratory distress syndrome have to date saved nearly a million premature infants' lives.

Ruth Fernandez

Singer -- via the New York Times.

Richard Alf

Co-founder of Comic-Con -- via Yahoo News.

From PBS: "Fantasy Coffins in Ghana"

Death rites in this African nation are elaborate and costly, but an important social and cultural activity -- via PBS.