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Diatribe: The Importance of Obituary Proofreading.


leroy-black-obituary.w529.h793A long time ago I worked as a “paste-up specialist” on my high school newspaper.  This was in a time when articles were typed out and then, literally, cut and pasted so that copies could be printed.  We didn’t have computer programs that allowed us to adjust margins or font size or to help us work around photos or advertisements.  We put every publication together by hand.

We also didn’t have “spell check” software so every article of every edition was reviewed by numerous proof readers before we went to press.

The Press of Atlantic City should be as careful.

After Leroy Bill Black, of Egg Harbor Township, died last Tuesday of lung cancer caused by fiberglass exposure, the newspaper published two obituaries … one saying he’s survived by his wife, and the other saying he’s survived by his girlfriend.

Both obituaries agree on the majority of facts surrounding Mr. Black’s passing but the obituary with top billing says he’s survived by his “loving wife” and a son.  The second announcement, however, says he’s survived by his son, several siblings and his long-time girlfriend!  The obituaries were published adjacent to each other and used the same photograph of Mr. Black!

“If you are going to have affairs you have GOT to be more careful!  Of course, this is all useless information for you now.” – Sissy Hickey (Sordid Lives, 2000)

A representative of the Greenidge Funeral Home, referenced in both obituaries, wouldn’t comment on the confusion but confirmed that the funeral home was working at the discretion of the wife.

Fire that proofreader!

This glaring oversight would not have happened back in the mimeograph days when we were absolutely certain that everything was correct before ink ever touched paper.

On the other hand, Mr. Black did get quite a send-off.


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From → Ovations

  1. Good post. You need to check out the excellent movie ‘The 33″ about the Chilean coal miners who survived underground for two months before being rescued. One miner had his wife and mistress on the surface arguing over who he would be happiest to see. The wife had the mistress kicked out of the compound, but she returned.


  2. It appears he was loved … by at least two?


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