Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Best Obituary Ever

Okay, if you're friends with me on Facebook you saw that today's post passed away due to unknown causes, but most likely because of my inability to insert pictures properly on Blogger. In all honesty, this is probably for the best as it was a very boring post about how insane parents can be when they watch their kids playing sports. Who hasn't heard that tale a thousand times? The only good part was my confession that I have a competitive streak that's gotten me into trouble since I was a small child. The problem is that although I am highly competitive in sports, I am not coordinated or athletic in any manner. In addition, if I'm not good at something immediately I get very frustrated and give up. I also can't stand to practice, even if it means I might get better. Despite all of this, as a child I had a strange sense of entitlement that I should win, even deserved to win every sports-related thing I did, even though I had zero chance of doing so. I'm sure this all explains why I made it my mission (though I've only realized it in retrospect) to marry someone with athletic genes in order to spare my children this frustration. Now that I've relayed the high points (such as they are) of the post, you can stop crying about the loss. Oh wait, that's me and I'm not crying about losing the post, but rather about the time I wasted spent working on it.

My jumping off place for my original post was an article "recommended for you" by The New York Times. I can tell that my taste in articles is totally uncool because the "recommended for you" list never matches up with the "most emailed" list. The New York Times article-recommending algorithm has me pegged as a hypochondriac with some secondary interests in weight loss and obituaries. And, sadly, it might be right because, guys, I just read the best obituary and it was totally not even recommended by The Times!

Harry Stamps passed away on March 9th at the age of 80. His daughter, Amanda Lewis wrote this obituary for her father. Here it is, reprinted without permission:

Harry Weathersby Stamps

December 19, 1932 -- March 9, 2013

Long Beach

Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies' man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

Harry was locally sourcing his food years before chefs in California starting using cilantro and arugula (both of which he hated). For his signature bacon and tomato sandwich, he procured 100% all white Bunny Bread from Georgia, Blue Plate mayonnaise from New Orleans, Sauer's black pepper from Virginia, home grown tomatoes from outside Oxford, and Tennessee's Benton bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription. As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life. 

The women in his life were numerous. He particularly fancied smart women. He loved his mom Wilma Hartzog (deceased), who with the help of her sisters and cousins in New Hebron reared Harry after his father Walter's death when Harry was 12. He worshipped his older sister Lynn Stamps Garner (deceased), a character in her own right, and her daughter Lynda Lightsey of Hattiesburg. He married his main squeeze Ann Moore, a home economics teacher, almost 50 years ago, with whom they had two girls Amanda Lewis of Dallas, and Alison of Starkville. He taught them to fish, to select a quality hammer, to love nature, and to just be thankful. He took great pride in stocking their tool boxes. One of his regrets was not seeing his girl, Hillary Clinton, elected President.

He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna [Vi-e-na] sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread. 

He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on. He loved to use his oversized "old man" remote control, which thankfully survived Hurricane Katrina, to flip between watching The Barefoot Contessa and anything on The History Channel. He took extreme pride in his two grandchildren Harper Lewis (8) and William Stamps Lewis (6) of Dallas for whom he would crow like a rooster on their phone calls. As a former government and sociology professor for Gulf Coast Community College, Harry was thoroughly interested in politics and religion and enjoyed watching politicians act like preachers and preachers act like politicians. He was fond of saying a phrase he coined "I am not running for political office or trying to get married" when he was "speaking the truth." He also took pride in his service during the Korean conflict, serving the rank of corporal--just like Napolean, as he would say.

Harry took fashion cues from no one. His signature every day look was all his: a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom, his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam's on Highway 49, and a pair of old school Wallabees (who can even remember where he got those?) that were always paired with a grass-stained MSU baseball cap. 

Harry traveled extensively. He only stayed in the finest quality AAA-rated campgrounds, his favorite being Indian Creek outside Cherokee, North Carolina. He always spent the extra money to upgrade to a creek view for his tent. Many years later he purchased a used pop-up camper for his family to travel in style, which spoiled his daughters for life. 

He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words "veranda" and "porte cochere" to put on airs, eating grape leaves, Law and Order (all franchises), cats, and Martha Stewart. In reverse order. He particularly hated Day Light Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil's Time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest. 

Because of his irrational fear that his family would throw him a golf-themed funeral despite his hatred for the sport, his family will hold a private, family only service free of any type of "theme." Visitation will be held at Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street, Gulfport on Monday, March 11, 2013 from 6-8 p.m. 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jeff Davis Campus) for their library. Harry retired as Dean there and was very proud of his friends and the faculty. He taught thousands and thousands of Mississippians during his life. The family would also like to thank the Gulfport Railroad Center dialysis staff who took great care of him and his caretaker Jameka Stribling. 

Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Day Light Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord's Time. 

Isn't it awesome? Also, I learned some things from Harry's obituary: there are democrats in Mississippi, cornbread can be a garnish, there is a bacon-of-the-month subscription, and people have theme funerals. These are listed in reverse order of my degree of surprise in learning these facts. Remember the scene in Tom Sawyer when he heard everyone eulogizing him at his fake funeral? Well, I hope that Harry got to hear how his daughter remembered him.

Sorry again for the technical problems with the post. I promise to come up with some original material later this week!

Read more here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sunherald/obituary.aspx?n=harry-stamps&pid=163538353&fhid=4025#fbLoggedOut#storylink=cpy


  1. Wow! Absolutely awesome! If I was remembered with such love and sarcasm by one of my children, I'd consider myself a total success.

    Curious at your reverting to "guys" from your more recent "y'all". Maybe the NYT influence?

    1. Yeah, it's too good not to share. Oh, I had a focus group review my work and they found the y'alls off-putting and too southern. I may just go with yous guys.