In death, a plea not to vote for Trump, Clinton

As long-time NewsCut readers know, I have a fondness for a good obituary.

Nonetheless, there is a growing trend in obituary humor that makes anyone tired of politics ask the question, “Shouldn’t there be a place that’s campaign free?”

Not for Mary Anne Noland of Virginia, whose obituary appeared today in the Richmond Times Dispatch.


  • Jeff C.

    Why do I have the feeling that the first sentence represents the values of the writer more than the values of the deceased? (Really? She’d rather die at 68 than vote for either person?) Seems insulting to me.

    • Thomas Mercier

      I was thinking similar thoughts. If a message is going to be sent in an obituary it ought to either be directly attributable to the deceased or clearly a reflection of the survivors’ reflection to the deceased.
      This goes into the tacky category of the one a few months back where there was commentary regarding the quality of other surviving family members.

      • I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the obit author and Mary Anne Noland have had discussions regarding this subject and most likely wouldn’t object to an attempt at humor.

        • BJ

          Agree. I’m guessing it was her Husband Jim who wrote it. I wouldn’t put it past my wife to put something similar in mine one day, long in the future. Except something more like; having never voted for Democrat or Republican for president he left this earth a happy man at 142 years old.

        • right. And that’s why it’s not a very good obituary. It tells us very little about the woman. And 68 is a young age to die and we don’t even know anything about the manner of death, nor how she faced it.

          Maybe she did talk to the person who wrote it. But our lives aren’t what we did for a living and who we left behind.

          I’ll bet she was a really interesting person. I wish the last thing that people will write about her would’ve revealed it.

          • KenB

            Isn’t an obituary “good” if it says what the family of the deceased wants it to? How do obit readers enter into it?

            I’ll bet she was interesting, too. But what they wrote is what they wanted to share.

          • No, I don’t necessarily think that if what gets printed is what the family wanted printed, it is by definition “good.”

            Obviously it’s a subjective thing but an obituary is a life story.

            It is, as I wrote some years ago, how we live forever.


          • KenB

            Am I misunderstanding, and you’re doing a kind of literary criticism of obituaries? If that’s the case, it’s a new category in my experience.

          • I would encourage you to read the category in which this particular post is filed: The Art of the Obituary.

            Here’s a good place to start. It’s the story of the parents of Evan Schumacher, who had to write their son’s life story.


            People don’t really know how to write obituaries and tell a story. What they do know are the obituaries they’ve read — and forgotten — countless times. And so that becomes a template.

            As I said at the beginning, long-time readers will understand.

          • KenB

            Speaking of there being no User Manual, I’m a bit confused by the term “category”. I thought it referred to the title above the headline of an item (e.g., for this post, it’s “Politics”). Those are what appear when I click on the box that shows “Browse by category” right above your picture and bio.

            Until you wrote it here, I didn’t even notice the tags(?) like “The Art of the Obituary” at the ends of some — but not all — posts. Nor did I know that they’re another kind of category.

            I understand News Cut a little better. Thank you, Bob.

          • Right. Tag. It was a category but the site was redesigned.

          • Jack Ungerleider

            You must be new to News Cut. 8^)

          • KenB

            There’s no User Manual for News Cut. And some people aren’t as intuitive, smart, or quick as some of you must be. 😐

          • Jack Ungerleider

            KenB: First off I apologize for not adding to my original response, Welcome to the NewsCut community. There are regular readers of NewsCut who are familiar with Bob’s penchant for critiquing obituaries for both content and style.

            I think the hint was in the first line: “As long-time NewsCut readers know, “

          • Kassie

            I find it interesting that you want both the manner of death AND how she faced it. I’m always wondering manner of death because 9/10 if they are under 40 I assume suicide, but I can see why it may be left off.

            “Lisa, once again, stuck the butter knife in the electrical outlet and this time it finally killed her.”

            “Roy got drunk and flipped his ATV while trying to launch it off a dirt pile.”

            Or worse, “Mary died after a short battle with cancer. She cried and whined and acted like a child through the entire thing, like usual.”

          • Or you could tell it in a way that truly tells a person’s story. We’re so scared as a culture to talk about any of this. That’s why we end up with such forgettable obituaries.


            I really love the NYT “Last Word” series. We think nothing of compelling final stories if the person is famous. My opinion is that everyone’s life should be famous. They’re interesting people who didn’t think they were. They have fascinating stories to tell about the life. They have lessons that a final story can leave behind, to be remembered forever by people who didn’t even know them.

            I bet she was a fascinating, wonderful woman. Maybe the reason why she didn’t like Trump and Clinton could lead to a great backstory.

            Note the organization to which she preferred memorials. A group that tries to break the cycle of homeless. No, her life was a great story that was waiting to be told.

            I feel bad it was just a punch line.

          • Jeff C.

            I want you to write my obit, Bob.

          • “Jeff C., a son of the Bay State who, like many others, was corrupted by a private college in the Twin Cities during a too impressionable period of his life, became part of the heavenly booyah…..”

          • Rob

            Just a quibble, but while dying at 68 is 8-10 years earlier than the average age of death in the U.S., to say it’s a young age at which to die is a stretch. It strikes me as the kind of thing that someone who is close to that age would say as they knock on wood and whistle past the graveyard.

          • How old are you?

          • Rob

            Not much farther/further away from 68 than you are.

          • FWIW, I was only commenting on the attempt at humor by the obit writer, not the severity of the lack of details about the life of the recently departed.

    • janbn

      I suspect that she was near death and may well have chosen those words to be part of her obituary. I would not want to die rather than to vote for either of these candidates but I think that the US is being presented with two of the worse candidates in history. Hold on America. Either Hillary or Trump will prove to be a disaster for America. Maybe the dead will envy the living.

      Before he passed away last year my husband told us exactly what words he wanted as part of his obituary. We followed his wishes.

      • Would you care to share his obit? I’d love to know more about him.

        • janbn

          The person who died was a woman and not a man. I don’t know any more about her other than what is written in the obituary.

          • Jeff C.

            I think Bob was asking you to share your husband’s obit.

          • that is correct.

  • Artfrommpls

    I can’t get past the obvious bias of Mr Collins to enjoy the family’s humor. Read his article’s title, “… a plea not to vote for Trump”. Then read the obit, “Faced with the prospect of voting for Trump OR Hillary….”. The title could have just as easily read “In death, a plea not to vote for Hillary”. Give me a break. Can you even pretend to be an objective reporter? OK, Bob. Now I know who you’re voting for. That’s exactly why I read MPR so I can keep up on your personal opinions. Here’s my opinion. Find a job you’re good at.

    • I’ve never pretended to be objective — something that only exists in the fantasy of some people . Nor am I reporter. And I don’t vote.

      None of those facts might be your cup of tea, but there’s one trait that makes up for my shortcomings, it’s that I have the courage to put my name behind what I write.

      • kevins

        Weak Bob.

      • ArtofMpls

        I question if it was my fantasy as much as it was a misunderstanding of the phrase “A fresh eye on the news”, key operative words, “the news”. After reviewing some of your other columns, I stand corrected. You’re not a reporter.
        A co-worker forwarded a link your article and as a first-time-reader, I leaped to the erroneous conclusion that you were just another biased reporter bent on projecting your spin on reality to your readers. You caught me in a bad place after recently viewing a plethora of articles from the mainstream media that didn’t have a shred of factual data.
        My apologies. I’m actually envious of your occupation. As a columnist, I’d love to provide a media source where the public has an alternative to the distorted hype that’s prevalent.
        And again, you’re right. I’m am afraid to put my name behind it. Too many news articles regarding the angry left with violent behavior.

  • KenB

    Unfortunately, Ms. Noland didn’t know that she had more choices for President than just Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

  • Rob

    So Mary Anne was a Rand Paul supporter, apparently. Regarding your interest in obits, Bob C., all I can say is “different strokes.”

  • A pretty nice line in a Strib obit today.