exordia

"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"

Hal David

Oscar- and Grammy-winning lyricist -- via the New York Times. With Burt Bacharach, created some of the more memorable songs of the period, including "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," "Don't Make Me Over," "This Guy's in Love with You," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," "Walk on By," "Alfie," "What the World Needs Now is Love," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Always Something There to Remind Me," "One Less Bell to Answer," "Wishin' and Hopin'," "Close to You," and "What's New, Pussycat?"

With others, he wrote such hits as diverse as "Sea of Heartbreak" and "Johnny Get Angry."

Chris Lighty

Hip-hop manager and music executive -- via the New York Times.

Josepha Sherman

Writer, folklorist, and anthologist -- via the School Library Journal.


Bob Myrick

Relief pitcher for the Mets -- via the Hattiesburg, MS American.


Byard Lancaster

Saxophonist and flutist -- via the Philadelphia Inquirer.





James Fogle

Writer, addict, and criminal -- via the New York Times. Best known as the author of "Drugstore Cowboy."



Maureen Toal

Actress -- via the Irish Times.

Dominic Hibberd

Author, editor, and critic -- via war-poets.blogspot.com

Louise Clarke

Dancer -- via the Daily Mail.

Pontus Schultz aka Nils Axel Pontus Forsström

Journalist and entrepreneur -- via blog.pawlo.com.


Anita Linda aka Alice Lake

Actress -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com.

Angkarn Kalayanapong

Artist and poet -- via the Bangkok Post.


A.K. Hangal

Actor -- via the Times of India.

Jeffrey Stone

Actor and writer -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com. The model for Prince Charming in Disney's animated "Cinderella."

Terry "Tubesteak" Tracy

Surfer; model for "The Big Kahuna" in "Gidget" and emperor of the laid-back lifestyle -- via the New York Times.

Jerry Nelson

Puppeteer -- via the Washington Post. A key member of the Muppet team, best known as the voice of "The Count," he had worked with Jim Henson since the beginning.

Noel Polk


Scholar and writer; world's foremost expert on Faulkner -- via the Picayune Item.

Nina Bawden

Writer -- via the New York Times.


Jack Lewis

Artist -- via delawareonline.com.

Remy Charlip

Artist, writer, choreographer, dancer, designer, and director -- via the New York Times.

Annie Kuebler

Jazz archivist -- via the Washington Post. One of the world's top experts on Ellington and Mary Lou Williams.


Neil Armstrong

Astronaut; first person to step upon the moon -- via the New York Times.

Armstrong was a hero, but not heroic. He was modest, but not "humble," as so many self-styled heroes are today. He simply didn't like the limelight, and didn't want people to make a fuss over him. He was far more than an adventurer -- he was a combat pilot, a test pilot, a very gifted aerospace engineer. All these skills made him a high-ranking candidate for the lunar expedition. Add to that his seemingly imperturbable calm, and he was the perfect choice.

It was Sunday night, July 20, 1969, 8:56 p.m. MDT. We gathered in front of our TV in the living room with a bunch of neighbors and watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. It was one of the defining moments of my life. I dreamed of going into space; we built rocket ships in our back yards out of cardboard boxes; we went on a million missions. Thanks, Neil . . . and Buzz and Michael and ALL the astronauts, from every country. Nothing is impossible.