Son who wrote scathing obituary for mom: ‘I’d do it again’

Jay Dehmalo, 58, the son who wrote a flame-throwing obituary about his mother that was published — then deleted — in southwestern Minnesota’s Redwood Falls Gazette, has uncloaked, telling the London Daily Mail he did it because he and his sister wanted the last word.

“You can’t believe the dysfunction of the family,” said Dehmalo, who lives near Cleveland now. “They’ll never know what we went through but it helped us. We wanted to finally get the last word.”

Although he wrote the obit, he said it was his older sister Gina’s idea.

He said: ‘I’ve got calls from buddies who’ve said, “We didn’t know she’d left you. We thought she’d died in a car crash or something.'”

Dehmalo, a father of one, admitted that he and his sister Gina had had ‘reservations’ about going through with the obituary — conscious that it could stir up the ill feeling that has clearly stalked this family through the decades.

Kathleen’s surviving sister, Judy, has told that her nephew’s obituary was ‘nasty’ and had ‘hurt the family tremendously’.

‘Why do people want to talk about it?’ she asked. ‘It’s not important.’

But for Dehmalo and his sister, who now lives in Florida, it was, he said, very important that some portion of the truth should emerge after being hidden for years.

He said: ‘Not important? Sure. They have no idea what we went through and back then, in the ’50s and ’60s, nobody talked about anything.’

Dehmalo, a former professional wrestler who changed his name to distance himself from his mother and who was raised by his grandparents, said he and his sister were hurt when they were left out of the obituary for his grandfather when he died in 1981. Apparently, he said, it was because he never paid back the $200 he borrowed from him.

Why did the siblings leave Minnesota?

He said when his mother returned from California, she showed pictures of her other children to people, never acknowledging they existed.

“How can you do that to your own children? That’s when we knew we had to get the hell out of Minnesota,” he said.

His sister now lives in Florida.

Dehmalo said if he were faced with writing the obituary again, he’d do it the same way.

The Daily Mail said its interview with the son was exclusive; it doesn’t indicate whether it paid him for it.

  • Erik Petersen

    He seems nice.

    Its a curiosity to me that the UK tabloid dailies do such exhaustive reporting on matters mundane and serious here in the states.

    • While stealing pictures and content without bothering to ask.

      Every single picture used in this story which has raced around the world, used the picture that a NewsCut reader sent to me. Only one organization — Deadspin — asked for permission to use it.

      • Joseph

        Asking permission and lawyers takes too long — the “news” of the world ‘aint got time for that when a right-click copy/paste works just as well.

  • LieutenantLefse

    “You can’t believe the dysfunction of the family,” said Dehmalo.

    Somehow, I can.

    • Erik Petersen

      No one should be sympathetic there, its not a good excuse.

      In this country most peoples’ families ascend from rube-dom with lots of dysfunction on the way. I doubt the dysfunction he observed was remarkable.

      • LieutenantLefse

        What I meant was, his actions exemplify said dysfunction.

      • // . I doubt the dysfunction he observed was remarkable.

        I can’t imagine the pain of a mother not acknowledging you even exist.

        • Erik Petersen

          Fair point

      • Dmommy

        Did your mother abandon you? Do you know how they felt?

  • lindblomeagles

    I’m no expert, but it sounds like the entire family, mom, the children, dad (where is he in this story?), and the grandparents have not healed. That’s an ugly trunk to carry on your way to the grave.

    • Dmommy

      I completely agree and that’s why I pray for their healing.

  • Dmommy

    Most people who are abandoned by their mother do not heal from that experience without professional help and I don’t think ANYONE is in a position to tell them how they should feel about that. There is no closer bond than that of mother and child. I can’t imagine how it feels to know that the person who carried you in their body and birthed you into the world, abandons you to start a new life with your uncle. I pray for peace and healing for Jay and Gina because the anger is just pain. The newspaper and website had no right to remove their obituary. She was THEIR mother and the children who she actually mothered can’t possibly understand how they felt. May God bless and heal this family.