R Thomas Berner
Freelance Writer and Photographer
Retired journalism professor and now a freelance writer and photographer.
Freelance obituary writer
Over the course of 15 years I wrote obits for country weeklies in Marin County, California – the Point Reyes Light and the West Marin Citizen – and took home a bunch of National Newspaper Association awards, along with SPOW’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement honor. I also taught an adult-ed class, “Write Your Own Obituary,” setting a humorous tone for a not-so-funny topic. The website for my custom-obituary writing service is undergoing renovation and will re-open for business. Soon.
I have a B.A. and M.A. in history with experience working as a freelance proofreader and copy editor for several occasions for numerous years for postgraduate students, working professionals and families who have requested obituary writing services. I look forward to be given the opportunity to serve as an independent contractor for funeral homes and newspaper publications in the United States.
Freelance, but mainly writing for the Daily Telegraph, London
Tim Bullamore is an award-winning obituary writer, specialising in the obituaries of classical musicians for the Daily Telegraph in London, a newspaper famous for its entertaining treatment of obituary subjects. He was shortlisted for the British Press Awards in 2002 and 2016 and won a SPOW award in 2007. He has given entertaining lectures on the art of obituary writing at Columbia University, New York, Haverford College, Philadelphia, the University of New South Wales, Sydney, and City University, London.
My thesis for my MA in professional communication was on obituaries and this research has peeked my curiosity on the subject. I have not written obituaries before, but am interested in seeing obituaries written in a manner that reflect gender equality. Otherwise, my background is in operations and productivity improvement including Lean consulting
Fran Coode Walsh
The United Methodist Church
Currently content supervisor for The United Methodist Church's website, umc.org, I also have an extensive background as a video producer. In my previous job with "Crook and Chase," I produced several obituaries of entertainers such as Dinah Shore and Minnie Pearl. Both personally and professionally I respect obituaries as a challenge to writers which should capture the essence of a unique life and give readers a good idea of what it was like to be around the deceased. I also try to ask interviewees the kinds of questions that could add more meaning and texture to their own life stories as needed. And I very much enjoy a well-crafted obituary.
I've co-owned several bookshop cafes, have a doctorate from the University of Technology, Sydney, and taught undergraduate Writing courses. I have written two novels ('The Glass Heart', HarperCollins, 2000 and 'Bone Ash Sky', 2013, Hardie Grant, UK and Australia)as well as a prize-winning novella, 'Intimate Distance'(TEXT), short stories and articles. I currently blog on life, death and dying for Huffington Post Australia and am working on my next novel.
Years ago, an old gentleman approached me about writing his obit while still alive. Thought that would make a great service. Sadly, he died before we could accomplish his wish, but the idea has always stuck. Now, I work part-time in the Obits dept. for Florida's largest newspaper, and every day speak with Funeral Directors and folks who have just lost a loved one. As a writer and historian, I find myself increasingly drawn to the genre, and see it as both an opportunity to respect the dead and chronicle a life. I hope to learn from those who have chosen obit writing as a career.
I've been with Legacy.com since 2000, and I've filled a lot of roles there -- customer service representative, training manager, client services -- but my first task was writing obituaries, and it's what I do with most of my time now. I write for our Notable Deaths section, providing long-form obituaries for celebrities and other notable people.
Carmel Dagan went to Harvard and worked for entertainment industry bible Variety for 16 years, and during the last five he wrote more than 300 advanced obituaries, a number of which were, of course, published on Variety.com with the deaths of their subjects. Dagan also wrote current obituaries.
Jane Waggoner Deschner
I'm a visual artist, based in Billings, Montana, who embroiders text and images into found photographs. My current, on-going project is "Remember me: a collective narrative in found words and photographs." In it I integrate vernacular photographs with statements culled from family/friend-written obituaries. Hand-embroidering text into photos intimately merges the two together. The photos “read” the texts and vice versa, teasing pretension, tragi-comedy and profound truths about the human condition from sentimental artifacts. This project, ultimately, intimately, illustrates our collective narrative. And in so doing, importantly reminds us, in this acrimonious age, of our commonalities.
Author, freelance writer, journalism teacher
Ryerson University's School of Journalism, Toronto
For three years, I wrote obits of allegedly ordinary people for the Toronto Star, the happiest gig of my 25 plus years there -- and that includes movie reviewing and interviewing real live stars. What was Tom Cruise really like? I'm not saying, other than to confirm he is indeed short. Obit writing was also the gig that made the most impact with readers, even though I was also the first Cdn reporter to cover homelessness and wrote major features on everything from Romanian orphans to Princess Di in New York City. What else? I've written books -- fiction and nonfiction -- lots of magazine articles, a four-part radio mystery play and a couple of episodes of a Canadian television series.
Chief Content Officer
Hayes joined Legacy.com in 2000, after many years working at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, her hometown. She also was a project writer for People magazine. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Hayes spent a year at the University of Michigan as a Knight Wallace Fellow for mid-career journalists. She has taught at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, where a key assignment for students is to write an obituary.
I am a technical writer, researcher, proofreader and editor. I wrote obituaries for Gannett Publishing Company in Melbourne, Florida. Also, known as Florida Today Newspaper. I have also conducted interviews and fact checked the obituaries.
Holly Shreve Gilbert
Journalist and instructor
Holly Shreve Gilbert, an instructor of journalism and professional journalist, has been teaching writing and media design at Oakland University since 1994. She also serves as the professional adviser to The Oakland Post, the independent campus newspaper, and is the chief curriculum adviser for the journalism program. Holly is also a champion of the art of obituary writing. She has written journalistic obituaries and teaches the form – which she considers a perfect microcosm of reporting and story-telling skills – in her writing classes at OU. She has also written extensively about the history of the obituary and the demise of it's presence in the historical archive. Captivated by digital technology and the endless possibilities it offers for journalistic storytelling and other forms of communication, Holly utilizes it in her classrooms as well as in her work for the Funeral Consumers Alliance, where she serves as secretary to the board of trustees and for the Funeral Consumers Information Society, where she serves as interim president. She's really not a gloomy person, just interested in getting people to talk candidly about something we're all going to do.
Yvette M. Giles, EdD, who has graduate degrees in journalism and education, is a former assistant director of an award-winning learning support center at a four-year state college in Florida, where she worked for seven years. She maintains a level 3 (of four) learning center leadership certification through the National College Learning Center Association. Yvette also worked as an adjunct assistant professor of English at Santa Fe College in Gainesville. And shortly before this assignment, Giles completed a television documentary film as her master’s thesis project at the University of Florida, entitled CANNONBALL: The Life and Legacy of Julian Adderley, about the legendary jazz saxophonist. Yvette produced the film’s gala standing-room-only premiere in New Orleans at the Zeitgeist Museum of Art and penned the article “Cannonball Remembered on Film” (2001) for Jazz Improv magazine. Yvette now works on a freelance basis, submitting articles for publication in magazines and newspapers, with a primary focus on obituaries and feature articles about the deceased.
Barbara E. Goodman
Freelance Profile Writer
Barbara is an award-winning journalist and freelancer whose writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine. She was a features and profile writer for the Toledo Blade and a columnist for American Airline’s in-flight magazine. She holds an MBA in marketing and organizational behavior from Northwestern University, an MFA in narrative non-fiction from Goucher College, and a BA in literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Her online advice book, Eventually It Starts to Make Sense, can be found here.
Tom is a bookseller at Munro's Books in Victoria, B.C., Canada. He is a widely published freelance newspaper and magazine writer. He is honored to have won six Grimmies over the year. A collection of his obits, titled "Deadlines" (Harbour Publishing), was released in 2012.
Writer, Traveller, Camera Addict, Bamboo Fan and Workshop Presenter. Has a BA in adult and vocational teaching, and a master of arts in writing. Likes to write life stories and obituaries.
Long time writer moving to late middle age. Hospice care and obituary writing. It's as much about me as it is about them
Being just 18, and coming out of high school, writing for school newspapers doesn't grant me any significant experience in journalism. But just the same, with a natural love and skill I've claimed and practiced, I can assure whom it may concern I'm capable of producing as well as presenting respectable and compassionate obituaries.
ABC News (Australia)
I work as a digital producer with ABC News (Australia) where, unfortunately, I do not get to write as many obits as I'd like! However, the newsroom knows I am a fan and when possible, I get a chance to write one for an Australian identity. I have been involved in the organisation's project, In Memory Of, for the last two years, which is as close to a regular obituary 'column' we have. I've also written a couple of freelance obits for Australian newspapers. I do love to read other's obits and I am always keen to learn how to improve and also, how to entice the ABC to create an obituaries desk - and make me the editor of it! #dreaming
Helping others memorialize their loved one during an incredibly stressful time... This is the service Catherine provides her clients. Through a series of thoughtful questions, Catherine helps the grieving family uncover what they really want to say about their loved one who has passed away. One size does not fit all! That is the maxim Catherine lives by. Through a simple (short) interview, your loved one's true spirit will be captured and put into words that can comfort, or help others grieve, or generate laughter and fond memories. The tone is always up to you, the client. Earning a BA in English Literature from UCLA, writing occasionally for the Dallas Morning News and working in Human Resources for many years have helped Catherine hone her writing craft. But it is her love of history and the people who have made it, as well as empathy for those of us left alone after a death that drives her love of this work.
Working in Northern Canada as a journalist, I found the best stories -- the ones that touched the most people and made me feel human again -- were the ones about death.
Chilkat Valley News
Since 1996 Heather Lende has written over 400 obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska. She is also the author of three books about her life and work published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill: New York Times bestselling "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name", "Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs," and most recently "Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-town Obituary Writer." Her her columns and essays have been distributed widely in newspapers, radio, and magazines.
Copy editor and letters editor
The Cape Cod Times (since 1998)
Previously (in reverse order): copy editor, New Haven Register; managing editor, Connecticut Law Tribune; assistant night city editor, Poughkeepsie Journal; reporter, columnist and night city editor, The Day, New London, CT; reporter, Journal Inquirer, Manchester, CT.
Katharine Blossom Lowrie
Self-employed/White & Day Mortuaries
A resident of Redondo Beach, Calif., Kathy was a feature-writer on three newspapers before freelancing for the LA Times, LA Magazine and others. Primarily an entertainment reporter, she turned to obituaries after writing about her mom’s passing in 1993. Friends soon asked her to write obituaries for them. “The joy came in discovering those definitive quirks, the little nuances that fleshed out living, breathing individuals,” she says. “Obituaries are more about life than death.” A drama major at the University of Arizona, Kathy studied writing at Columbia School of Journalism, UCLA and Oxford and is the author of two novels.
C. Mack Lundstrom
Retired obit writer
I grew up on a small Nebraska daily that promised readers at least two free mentions in the paper, their birth and death. I still believe that's a small-paper obligation. My final job in the nearly 30 years at the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News was writing usually one daily 800-or-so-word obit — best job I ever had. Advising the Spartan Daily at San Jose State University, where I still try to cajole an obit out of every student reporter, ranks a close second.
Susan Ferrier MacKay
The Globe and Mail
As an entertainment reporter, I once held up a note to actor Jack Nicholson asking if he wanted to dance. He shook his head then turned to the man beside him saying, "Pity she used the wrong verb." I've alternated between writing for magazines and producing for national television all my working life. I just received an offer for my first novel from Harper Collins.
After writing a guide book to the cemeteries of Hollywood -- "Hollywood Remains to Be Seen" -- I became interested in telling the stories of celebrities and non-celebrities on my website.
I am a book publisher and marketing consultant. I have a career in writing and I am just getting into wanting to do obituaries.
Clair is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Ala.
Arts critic, former chief Epilogue writer
Tampa Bay Times
Email (personal) and (work)
He first got involved with obits in 2007 when the paper (then called the St. Petersburg Times) launched its "Epilogue" feature. Before joining the Times, Meacham wrote "Selling Serenity," about self-help trends in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then earned a master's degree in journalism. He appreciates the chance obits give writers to find hidden stories that ought to be told.
For every beautiful spire atop the monument, thousands upon thousands of cement blocks bear the strain of support. While everyone watches the most visible, who mourns when a brick falls? My goal is to give voice to these, the lowliest sparrows
I am interested in starting an obituaries online business in Kenya. I will of course require obituary writers.
I am a licensed funeral director, embalmer and crematory operator. I practiced for 20 years fulltime, and though not actively engaged at the moment, I intend to remain licensed and back in funeral service in some capacity. My favorite part of being a funeral service professional is writing obituaries.
The Hamilton Spectator
I have been a reporter since 1981 and have worked at The Hamilton Spectator for 26 years. We run special obits in our Monday paper called ‘Passages’ and I have written many of them over the last few years. I have written 'Passages’ about everyone from peace and environmental activists to police officers, doctors, soldiers, architects, teachers and politicians.
Retired (recovering) lawyer with 21 years in prosecution. After retirement, I started as a freelance correspondent with the Flume, our mountain paper. After covering a local's memorial service, I was hooked and started reading all the funeral blogs and I bought the obit books -- the how to's and the compilations. I've only done a couple but my editor is on board and supportive. I'm excited about doing more and getting better at them.
Maureen O'Donnell became the Chicago Sun-Times' obituary writer in 2009 after 20 years as a general assignment reporter, during which she wrote about crumbling conditions in Chicago schools, Mississippi River flooding, the 1996 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the Jeffrey Dahmer slayings. Before joining the Sun-Times, she was a reporter and editor at the City News Bureau of Chicago; a criminal courts reporter for the Milwaukee Journal, the Maryland Statehouse reporter for The Washington Times, and an associate editor at Adweek magazine. A Chicago native and graduate of Loyola University's Mundelein College, her journalism awards include the Chicago Headline Club's Anne Keegan Award, SPOW awards for obituary-writing, the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association public service reporting award, the Illinois Gold Bell Award from the Mental Health Association in Illinois and a Lisagor award. She believes obituaries have some of the best writing in newspapers and online, and that they’re both send-offs and storytelling from eyewitnesses to history.
Colin J. O'Hara
Born on Feb. 8, 1990 in Pittsburgh, he spent the majority of his life in the St. Petersburg, Fla., area. Colin is an avid athlete, musician and writer. After graduating from the University of South Florida with a degree in journalism, Colin began writing obituaries for the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times), and also is a corresponding sports journalist for several sports-related news sites.
Mary Ann O'Rourke
I've been reading death notices and obits for as long as I can remember.
I am a third generation minister and Founding Pastor of Friends Christian Church, Inc., which is located in East New York, Brooklyn, New York. We worship in a 192-year-old historic church. As an inner city chaplain I attend dozens of funerals and am often asked to help the family prepare an obituary. I am also the publisher of WELCOME Magazine in NYC
Andra has appeared on national television and radio broadcasts discussing the value of play, motivated learning for children and adults on the Autism spectrum, and her writing has been featured online in newspapers across Canada. Andra continues studies in Psychology and counselling. She is fortunate to enjoy adventures with her husband and two small children on the Southern Alberta prairies and the coasts Vancouver Island.
I cull local obituaries for the Third District in LA County. I've begun to highlight singularly good ones on my blog.
Retired obituaries editor
I created the AJC news obits page in 1996 and have written 2,000 obituaries on extraordinary ordinary people. A recipient of SPOW's Lifetime Achievement Award, I give humorous talks on obits and have appeared on NPR and CBS News Sunday Morning. My work is cited in The New Yorker, professional journals and newspapers from the U.S. to Singapore. I am quoted in a journalism text book and my work is mentioned in three other books. In the social media world, my work is blogged about online in The Buttry Diary and appears in an obit writing podcast.
My mission is to help people heal, adapt and grow physically, psychologically and spiritually. My career is in transition to hospice and palliative care chaplaincy, and it is fundamentally about writing the last chapter in a person's memoir. I am adding obituaries as a service for my clients.
Spoken word poet, freelance writer and artist, Cierra Robinson currently resides in South Florida. She is also a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University working on her first fiction novel while contributing to the Happy Herald a positive news publication.
My career was as a speech language pathologist. I am now retired and enjoying my long awaited career as a writer. I am interested in assisting others to prepare their memoirs and obituaries.
Gloria S. Ross
Contributing obituary and profile writer
St. Louis Beacon
Even before receiving her degree in Radio/TV/Film from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1980, Gloria began her career in journalism as a radio news announcer at WMKC in Oshkosh. She later switched mediums and spent a year as a newspaper reporter for the North Side Journal, one of the arms of the Suburban Journals in St. Louis. Her next career change was from journalism to public relations. After leaving the Journal, Gloria worked two years as a corporate communicator at Bank of America (then Centerre Bank) in St. Louis. She then joined the United Way of Greater St. Louis, where she worked for 20 years in communications, the last seven years leading the Communications Division as senior vice president. After leaving United Way in 2006, Gloria formed Okara Communications, which provides communications services to nonprofit organizations. An additional service of Okara Communications is AfterWords, an obituary-writing and production service. Since 2008, Gloria has been a contributing obituary and profile writer for the online newspaper, the St. Louis Beacon.
Freelance obituary writer
Obituaries have fascinated me since I was a child, but I am not someone whom you'd describe as "morbid." Hardly! Rather, I see an obit as another personal-interest story, an abbreviated feature on a person who is no longer around to enjoy the attention one gets from "being in the paper." While my professional work has focused on wellness and medical information management, I decided to offer obituary writing services on a freelance basis after a treasured friend honored me with the request to write her obituary. To witness, up close, the impact that a loved one's obituary has on the survivors -- especially when it is written to capture the details of a young person's life -- is humbling. I hope that I can provide that for others.
Freelance Obituary Writer
For the past 11 years, I have been the chief of the Report Development Division at the National Transportation Safety Board. With 34 years of federal service (near retirement), I am interested in pursuing my next career as a professional obituary writer.
He starts the studies about obituary writing in 2013 when he develops a research, with a scholarship from Institutional Research Support Fund of Methodist University of Piracicaba (FAP-UNIMEP), about its speech gender in Brazil and United States of America. Since then, he believes more and morte that the obituary is a kind of a "post-mortem poetic justice", that substantiates the beliefs of a society, by portraying the life of a person who has just died. Jonathan Henrique Semmler is a Portuguese Teacher, and a Researcher. He has a degree in Portuguese and, now, is specialising in Literature and Others Artistic Languages, both in Methodist University of Piracicaba (Piracicaba, Brazil)
I have been the Obituary Editor at BBC News for the past seven years. I work on obituaries for radio, television and the BBC's website. A spell as a volunteer guide at Highgate Cemetery in London sparked my interest in the social history of death in society, particularly the Victorian attitudes to death and dying. Many of my colleagues feel I have a macabre job. To me, it is the most fascinating role a journalist can have, telling the life stories of some of the world's most famous figures.
Freelance writer and editor
The Globe and Mail
I am a creative non-fiction writer, with a special interest in memoirs and obituaries–life stories, local histories, flesh & blood anecdotal details. I’m an obituary essay writer at The Globe & Mail. My memoir business, Rampant with Memory, includes helping people write their life stories, or gather their genealogical research. I’m a memoir teacher, a diarist, a poet, an editor, and a feminist. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and spend days tapping keys or staining my fingers in ink. I am a member of the Professional Writers’ Association of Canada.
Michelle E. Shaw
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Michelle E. Shaw came to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2007 and writes feature and news obituaries. During her time at the paper, she has covered business, education and government. She was previously a business reporter at the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., metro reporter at The Tennessean and has covered state and federal courts and crime. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and is in the process of completing the requirements for her Masters of Divinity at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.
Tampa Bay Times
She was born in Ft. Hood, TX to military parents in 1977. Raised all over the country and Germany. She first started writing poetry at a young age, then was a staff writer at her graduating high school's paper. She ended up finally landing in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2001, and by chance fell into the obituary field in 2007. Her real passion is art, but writing is a strong second
Freelance obituary writer
The Globe and Mail
A freelance writer whose work and commentary has appeared in The Telegram, This Magazine and VANS as well as on local and national CBC Radio, Joan Sullivan also works as managing editor of Newfoundland Quarterly magazine. Her most recent book, "In The Field," won the Newfoundland and Labrador Book of the Year Award (2013, non-fiction).
Chicago Tribune and Daily Southtown
I am a freelance writer who wrote for the Chicago Tribune from 2000 to 2009. In 2004 I was chosen as one of only four freelancers to write news obituaries on a daily alternating basis. I left in 2009 for a full time position as a development officer in a private high school. Late last year I left to pursue my freelance writing and have assumed my position as a news obituary writer with the Chicago Tribune and with the Daily Southtown, a local paper owned by the Chicago Tribune.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Phone - (414) 224-2196
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, and began my newspaper career here while in college, as a messenger (copy kid) at the old Milwaukee Sentinel. After working several years part-time, I was hired full-time in 1984, covering suburban government and police news. I worked police rewrite until 1992, when I became assistant editor of the Sentinel's entertainment section. After the Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal merged in 1995, I remained an entertainment writer and subbed as an editor in the features and entertainment department. I won a National Headliner Award in 2009 for a three-part series called "Ambassador Mahal: Face of a Dying Species," on the struggle of orangutans in the wild and baby oranguntan named Mahal who was flown to the Milwaukee County Zoo on a private plane to live with a surrogate mother here. I became the Journal Sentinel obituary writer in September 2012.
The Huffington Post and The Blog of Death
Jade Walker is a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience covering international/national affairs, crime, the publishing industry, new media and obituaries. Walker is the overnight editor of The Huffington Post, and the former overnight editor of The New York Times, The Associated Press, Yahoo! News and Night Owl News. In her "spare time," she writes obits for The Blog of Death, produces The Written Word quote service and blogs for the Obituary Forum.
Aspiring obit writer
Aspiring obituary writer interested in creative nonfiction, and writing a memoir. I've written one obit (and obituary poem), and a half dozen non-traditional funeral poems including Sue is Chocolate and Bologna Perfume. My favorite film is Departures, and as I gobbled up The Dead Beat I did a pretty good job of keeping the lovely bits from dribbling out of my mouth. A long time ago I worked 8 years as a department head in magazine and book publishing on the design and manufacturing side.
I am a journalism student at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Recently, I started writing life tributes for the San Antonio Express News. The people I interview have touched my heart. I want excel at telling their stories.
John Yarbrough is a writer, playwright and journalist in New York City. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. As a writer at ABCNews.com, he wrote obituaries of Joe DiMaggio, Tom Landry, John F. Kennedy Jr, Stanley Marcus (co-founder of Neiman-Marcus), and others. In his first job, as a reporter for the Salisbury (Maryland) Daily-Times, he wrote obituaries of residents of Wicomico and Somerset counties. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Writers Guild of America East, and is a professional member of PEN America. His very first obituary piece, written as a graduate journalism student at Northwestern University, was of the actress Jane Fonda. Thankfully for Ms. Fonda, it has never been used.
I have written a news obituary most work days since fall, 1989, at The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, where I've been a reporter since 1984.