Obituaries as Display Ads

Apr 28, 2011 | 3 comments

Obituaries, a traditional communications vehicle to spread the news about death and funerals, generally fall into two categories: news obituaries and classified obituaries. There is a third type, the display ad obituary, which I’m seeing more of lately.

News obituaries are stories written by journalists about someone who has made some notable contribution to humanity or the local community before they died. A reporter will interview one or more people to prepare the story, and an editor will review the piece. The family generally does not get to see the article before it runs.

Classified obituaries, paid listings placed by the family, are like other classified ads for yard sales or jobs, except they get their own separate section in the newspaper. These can be as long and detailed as the family wishes to make it, although the more you say, the more you pay.

And the newspaper does not edit what is written. If the obit is submitted with typos or incorrect information, it runs as is. Some newspapers allow the addition of a photo with the obit. Yet, they are still the typical narrow columns you see in the classified ads.

And then, rarely, there are display ad obituaries. These can appear anywhere in the newspaper, scattered among the big ads for local merchants’ sales. Display ads typically cost more than classified ads, priced by the column inch. In my local newspaper on Sunday, I saw this display ad obituary:

Display obituary for Chester Lee "Chet" Barnes

If you can’t read the text, it says:

Chester Lee “Chet” Barnes, 1916 -2011

We mourn his passing and celebrate his life. He touched all of our lives in so many ways, as father & friend. His integrity, unwavering concern for others and his lifelong commitment to living right was an example for all. With love, memory of his deeds & the strength of his example live on.

I would like to especially thank my loving wife, Sherry and my daughter Shelia and her husband Mark Lee, my sister Ernalee and her husband Robert Widgren; Home Care Assistance’s Courtney Gonzales, Hospice of New Mexico’s Candice, Eileen and Larry for making it possible for my Dad to spend his last months at home where he wanted to be.

Thanks also to all his friends for all their words of support, condolences and to those who were able to attend his memorial service making it a “Celebration of his Life”.

Til we see each other again; love you Dad.

Richard L. Barnes

What a lovely way to preserve and share the memory of a remarkable man. Thank you Richard, for creating a keepsake obituary that conveyed elements of your father’s character and expressed your thanks to the people who supported the family.

I wish I could have covered the celebration of his life. May Chet Barnes’ memory be a blessing.

A Good Goodbye