JohnsonThere are some newspapers, particularly larger ones, that keep news obituaries of people who are very much alive.

Archived Story

Every person has a life story to tell

Published 10:54pm Wednesday, September 8, 2010

There are obits out there for President Obama, Gen. David Petraeus, Lady Gaga, Julia Roberts, Tiger Woods.

There are obits for politicians, musicians, actors, athletes.

Why? Because if that person passes away, obit clerks or reporters have little time to compile the person’s history before they must break the news to the public.

These papers have large staffs just to handle obituaries alone; there’s probably that one guy or girl who exclusively works on news obituaries.

We, obviously, do not do this.

We do not have an obituary staff, nor do we have the time to compile that information about every famous person.

That does not mean, however, that intriguing, unique and inspiring people don’t leave this world every day, and the Niles area is no exception.

I have written many news obituaries in the past.

The process is quite different — rather than have an obit already written or mostly written, I would choose people to feature from the obits and interview families and friends who would talk about those people and provide photos.

The interviews were tearful, joyful, nostalgic and informative.

Many family members appreciated the opportunity to tell the community about the lives their loved ones lived.

I interviewed a man whose father invented microwave popcorn.

One woman still kept the heart pendant her late husband made for her before he left for war.

In my experience, news obits have been very well-received, especially since they put life stories to the brief descriptions you read in the paper.

Many times, they will be about people involved in every civic group and church event in town; other times, they will be about the men or women who lived next door you never knew led fascinating lives.

The Star is now featuring news obituaries, so watch for the articles to begin in the following week.

We would appreciate any feedback about the stories, and would also encourage readers to call in if they know of someone who should be featured in a story.

Katie Johnson is managing editor of the Niles Daily Star, Off the Water, Cassopolis Vigilant and Edwardsburg Argus.

She can be reached at (269) 687-7713 or at katie.johnson@

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