Writing obits


The first thing I do each morning is check the Mowell Funeral Home obituary page to see if I happen to be on it.

Starting probably 15 years ago, I began writing my own obituary and every couple years I revise it. A colleague here at the newspaper once asked if he could change my obituary and I told him if he changed it, he had better be sure I’m dead first.

I wrote the obituaries for the Citizen for nearly two decades, actually putting each one together so each one received about the same attention. The county has grown to the point that was no longer possible and now we print them as received.

When I moved to Fayette County in 1966 the population was 8,000 persons in toto. Currently the population totals an estimated 112,000 and the number of those dying each month has increased proportionately. Out of curiosity I did a survey of those who have died in Fayette County this month.

They number about 19 persons, only five were female. There were five born in Georgia, two in Alabama, New York and Minnesota, and South Carolina, one in Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Ohio and Massachusetts. None were reflected as being born in Fayette County, but three grew up here and graduated from Fayette County High School.

They left 42 children, 59 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Family requested donations were quite varied: four to the Cancer Society, two to Southwest Christian Care, and one each to a hospice, Army Emergency Relief, Kidney Foundation, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Special Olympics, the Heart Association, Autism Speaks, Ronald McDonald House, Southside Cycling Club and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

About 20 percent did not name where a donation might be sent. There was also about that percentage of families who simply put nothing more than the briefest of information – they came, they went.

They were born in years from 1924 to 2013.

Their vocations in life were quite varied: love to play the piano, golf, read and do crossword puzzles, and watch Braves games; volunteer work through his church; independent broker, certified interior decorator, volunteer worker at her church and a former staff worker for Billy Graham; a retired Atlanta detective, and passionate skydiver, logging over 4,700 jumps, and a 1996 Olympic Torch Bearer; avid cyclist and accomplished mountain biker; World War II veteran; church deacon and a Civitan member; a welder; was Fayette County’s only retiring four-star general; a truck driver; retired from the United States Forest Service, enjoyed traveling with the Atlanta Senior Golf Association, graduated from high school in Paris, when his dad was stationed there; was the founding member of an Atlanta band in 1977 which performed locally until 1989, as well as being a lawyer primarily practicing in family and immigration law; and a Methodist minister’s wife.

As a curious person, how many can find one of these categories they fit in – I can only find two myself. What a great place to live – with so many different kinds of interesting people.