Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obits aren’t Free Anymore

One of the bizarre, but interesting and useful bits of information I picked up during the process of my mother’s passing is regarding obituaries. While once considered news, in the tightening financial crunch newspapers have been facing for many years, obituaries are now considered classified ads. As such, the length of the record of your loved ones passing is counted by word and charged accordingly. Since it is now considered an ad, the rates fluctuate wildly region to region as well as the size and scope of the publication. 

We live in suburbia, our town’s weekly paper charges a couple hundred while the local daily rates are just under $400. The wider the reaching papers such as our state wide paper not only charges for the print ad, but an additional fee to publish it online as well. One story I recently heard was that the obituary in the New York Times for a stockbroker cost $12,000. That was more than the cost of his cremation and memorial combined. Obviously, obituary costs are now something you seriously need to consider when planning your loved ones final arrangements.

I want to thank my BFF Cathy McGuckin for helping our family write mom’s obit. For the record (and one that is still free), this is my mom’s obituary:

MT. ARLINGTON, NJ—Joyce D. Armstrong died on Friday, November 27, 2009, at Morristown Memorial Hospital after a brief illness. She was 77.

Born in Wilkensburg, PA, to the late Clinton and Mary (Ritts) Burket on October 23, 1932, she was a 34-year resident of Mendham until moving to Mt. Arlington in June, 2006.

Joyce graduated then worked at the Business Training College in Pittsburgh, PA, where she met her husband Joseph Armstrong. Joyce and Joe married on June 6, 1955, at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. She would fondly remember their ‘two-year honeymoon’ in Hawaii, while Joe served with the U.S. Marine Corps. Prior to their honeymoon, Joyce enjoyed working for Radio personality Mark Evans in Washington, DC.

Joyce was a member of the Newcomers’ Group of Mendham for more than 20 years and enjoyed playing in the bridge club. She also enjoyed traveling and the Naval Academy. Joyce will be remembered by friends and neighbors for her deep love of her family, her beautiful Mendham home—especially her porch swing, her Christmas Eve and Army-Navy Game parties, and her kindness.

She was predeceased by her brother Clinton (1993) and her sister Maybelle Gillespie (1992). Survivors include her husband of 54 years Joseph, her daughter Kimberly of Succasunna, her son Scott of Wilmington, NC, and her beloved grandson Colin of Rockaway.

A memorial service to celebrate Joyce’s life will be held at the Bailey Funeral Home on Saturday, December 12, 2009, at 1:00 PM. A reception will be held at the Elks Club in Gladstone. Entombment will take place at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, MD at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made in Joyce’s name to Cancer Center for Education and Patient Support Fund, Morristown Memorial Health Foundation, PO Box 1956, Morristown, N.J. 07962.

Arrangements are by the Bailey Funeral Home, 8 Hilltop Road, Mendham, NJ, 07945—(973)543-4720,

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