We’ve all seen, if not visited ourselves, the old west graveyards with the comical sayings like “I said I was sick.” Little known that back in the day, some of these saying were true though not outlandish. But, they can’t hold a candle to some modern day obituaries in the land of the “Strangest Obituaries”…
Jim, as he liked to be known, was thought of as a man of inappropriate sayings, including by his family: an older sister who lives in a place Jim calls Whythehelldoyoulivethere, Rhose Island or his variety of nieces and nephews with “mediocre upbringings.” It is sometimes hard to tell if the family is being serious or is sharing a unique brand of humor. Judging by the respect his family has for him since they pledge to “keep his ashes around as long as they match the decor,” I’m guessing the humorous variety and one of the strangest obituaries to grace the printed page.
Another type of strangest obituary is the practical joke, having the last laugh from the grave. Norma Brewer had that exactly in mind when she wrote her own obituary eleven years before her death. In it, she told of how she died on a trip climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with her daughter and pet dog, Mia. Her cause of death was hypothermia after Mia ate her socks and boots. Norma actually died from a stroke at a much lower elevation. People who didn’t know her were scratching their heads. Those who knew her smiled and knew that was typical Norma.
Yet, another kind of “strangest obituary” is the Mark Twain type. Shoichi Yokoi was reported dead at the end of World War II. He had been assigned to defend Guam. So when Guam was taken by the Allies and then the war ended, anyone who hadn’t been reported was reported dead. That worked fine until two local fisherman found a japanese soldier from the Imperial Army who was still trying to fight for the emperor instead of surrendering. They discovered and captured him… 28 years after the war ended! This happened in 1973! The strangest part? He wasn’t the last. There would be two more discovered sometime later.
Now we go from fictional deaths of real people to fictional deaths of fictional people. Waldo had everyone looking for him in a craze that would only be matched by Pokemon Go! To put the fad to final rest, Mad Magazine published Waldo’s strangest obituary stating that Waldo was missing and presumed dead. After placing him on a milk carton, according to Carmen San Diego, his friends just gave up. They had gotten tired of looking for him and then having him take off again. The service was “held at an undisclosed location” and attendees would “need to look for it themselves”.
My most favorite strangest obituary is for the woman who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. Long planned ahead of time and confided with newspaper editors, she wanted her obituary to read: “Ding, Dong, the witch is dead!” quoting a famous line from the movie. When reading this the morning after her death, many fans took it as an insult and disrespectful to a great lady until they learned it was her final request.