Writing an obituary

The first paragraph of an obituary should contain a single sentence reporting the death.

John Doe, 100, of 1100 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida, and formerly of 123 Sesame Street, Nashua, New Hampshire, died Tuesday, 29 February 2000 at home, after a brief illness.

Obviously, the year must be included because the obituary will be preserved.

Now add biographical information. Start at the beginning.

He was born in Nashua, New Hampshire on 28 February 1900, the son of the late Robert and Catarina (O'Reilly) Doe. He was educated in the Nashua schools and graduated from Nashua High School in 1918. After graduating from the Harvard School of Law in 1926, he joined the law firm of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe, where he worked for 42 years until his retirement in 1968.
 

Marriage details are especially important if the record would be difficult to find.

He was predeceased by his wife, Miguelina (Trudeau) Doe, whom he married on 29 February 1928 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

All siblings and descendants should be mentioned by name and residence. Do not say that his sister lives in Boston if she really lives in Brookline, Massachusetts. Brookline is not part of the City of Boston.

He is survived by a sister, Jane (Doe) Shapiro of Brookline, Massachusetts; a son, John Doe, Junior of Brookline, New Hampshire; and a daughter, Jane (Doe) Ricotta and her husband, Ronald Ricotta of Brooklyn, New York.

Funeral information should follow: Visitation is at the Sample Name Funeral Home, 1 Main Street, Miami Beach from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 7 March 2000. The funeral will be held at the funeral home on Wednesday, 8 March 2000 at 10:00 a.m. followed by interment at the Eternal Rest Cemetery in Miami Beach.

If charitable contributions are suggested, the full address should be provided: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in John's memory to Oxfam America, Inc., 226 Causeway Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02114 U.S.A. or through their website at oxfamamerica.org.

Since the Internet addresses visitors who are all over the world, a clarification is needed: Except for Monte Carlo, Monaco, all places named above are in the United States of America. This must be in the body of the obituary so when somebody copies the obituary to another genealogy document, the clarification will be copied with it.

Except in postal addresses, avoid abbreviating the names of States and countries, because abbreviations come and go, while the obituary should be as permanent as possible.

More guidance can be found at this link.

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