In his novel The Twelve, author Justin Cronin wrote, “As long as we remember a person, they’re not really gone. Their thoughts, their feelings, their memories, they become a part of us.”
One of the ways we can ensure the memories of our loved ones live on is by writing an obituary. An obituary is a written notice of a person’s death. It is often accompanied by biographical details.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Steps for Writing an Obituary for a Father
- For a Father Who Died Too Young
- For a Loving Grandfather
- For a Step-Dad
- For a Father-in-Law
- For a Father Who Died Unexpectedly
- For a Father Who Battled a Long Illness
- Where Can You Post an Obituary for a Father?
An obituary is the most well-known method used to announce a death. Historically obituaries were published in newspapers. Now they are also published on online memorial sites.
A newspaper may write and publish an obituary for a famous person or a local person of note. But usually, it is the responsibility of the deceased's family to provide an obituary. If you’re writing an obituary, make sure to include these details:
- The deceased’s full name (including middle name or initial, maiden name, and nickname)
- The date and place of death
- The cause of death (if you choose to share that information)
- Birthdate and birthplace
- Names of parents, siblings, spouses/partners, and children
Consider including other notable details as well. Things like education, accolades, and military service are appropriate to include.
Still not sure how to write an obituary? Check out the examples below:
Tip: If you need help prioritizing other post-death details, check out our post-loss checklist.
Steps for Writing an Obituary for a Father
The ability to write an obituary is not a skill that most people inherently possess. If you don’t know where to begin the process, that’s okay! We’ve broken it down into some simple steps that you can follow.
Step 1: Do your research
Earlier, we provided a brief list of the types of information typically included in an obituary. If you don't know these details off the top of your head, reach out to another friend or family member who might be able to fill in the gaps.
In addition to the biographical information listed above, an obituary should include details about the funeral service. If the funeral is open to the public, make sure the obituary contains the ceremony's date, time, and location. If the service is restricted to a private guest list, you can say so directly or just omit any mention of a funeral at all.
Not sure how an obituary should be structured? Keep reading to see a selection of sample obituaries that we've put together as examples.
Step 2: Use examples to guide you
Obituaries tend to have a pretty particular structure to them. Keep reading to see samples of obituaries that we’ve put together as examples.
Step 3: Set up a peaceful workspace
Writing an obituary for a loved one who has passed away can be an intensely emotional experience. It’s difficult to feel creative and articulate when you’re grieving. Taking the time to create a tranquil writing environment can help you tap into your creativity.
The right writing environment will be different for everyone. Some people may feel more comfortable curled up on a couch with a notebook. Others may feel more productive sitting at their desk. Some may want to savor a mug of hot tea while they write. Others may prefer a glass of wine. Do whatever works best for you.
Step 4: Strike the right balance
Obituaries may contain a lot of biographical information, but they shouldn’t read like a dry recitation of details. When you write an obituary, you’re also telling a story about your late loved one and the type of life they led. Weave in some anecdotes about them, or include more personal information that really captures their spirit.
Step 5: Be mindful of word count
Obituaries are typically meant to be short and sweet. While they can be as long as 450 words, on average they tend to clock in at around 200 words. If you plan to publish the obituary in your local paper, short and sweet may be better, as newspapers will often charge by the word to publish obituaries.
Step 6: Seek out feedback
Once you’ve finished writing the obituary, it’s always a good idea to have someone look it over with a fresh eye. Ideally, you’ll be able to find someone who was familiar with the deceased but is far enough removed that they aren’t also planning the funeral or otherwise preoccupied.
1. For a Father Who Died Too Young
Christopher Michael Bradley passed away on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, after a brief battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was 37.
Chris was born on May 16, 1982, in Denver, Colorado. He attended the University of Florida. He held a Bachelor of Science in Tourism, Event and Recreation Management and a minor in Spanish.
An enthusiastic traveler, before graduating from college Chris had visited all fifty states. He took a gap year after he graduated and backpacked through Western Europe. He picked up a few new languages and took hundreds of photographs.
Chris’ love of skiing soon brought him back to Denver. He began working in the hospitality industry. In 2012 Chris married Emily Grace Williamson, his high school sweetheart. They reconnected on the slopes at Loveland Ski Resort. The following year they welcomed daughter Rosaline Ava Bradley. Chris was excited for Rosaline to join him and Emily for a lifetime of adventures. He never stopped planning the adventures they could all have together.
In addition to Emily and Rosaline, Chris is survived by his father and mother, Walter Allen Bradley and Kimberly Yvonne Bradley, as well as his sister Sarah Elizabeth Bradley. He was predeceased by his brother, Jason Joseph Bradley.
The funeral service will be at Cook and Sons Funeral Home, 4321 Main Street, Denver, Colorado, on Friday, October 25, 2019, at 2 pm. A visitation before the service will begin at noon. The family will be there to welcome friends and relatives.
Please send memorial donations to the Glioblastoma Foundation PO Box 62066, Durham, NC 27715.
2. For a Loving Grandfather
Albert William March of York, Nebraska passed away on Monday, October 14, 2019, at the age of 96. After several months of declining health, Albert died peacefully with his beloved wife Myra and their children by his side.
Albert was born in York on March 6, 1923, to father Charles Thomas March and mother Lillian Louise March. The oldest of three sons, Albert didn’t have the opportunity for much formal education. He helped out on his family’s small farm and worked any odd jobs he could find starting at an early age. His work ethic and desire to take care of his family led to him enlisting in the Army at age 18. He was stationed in Nice, France from 1943 -1945.
At the end of the war, Albert returned to York and used his G.I. Bill benefits to buy property next to his family’s farm. Together with his father, they grew the family business exponentially. This growth helped bring economic prosperity to York. Albert invested heavily in the town’s youth. He funded scholarship opportunities for outstanding students. Through these endeavors, he met local schoolteacher Myra Jean Kelly. They married in 1954.
Albert was preceded in death by his parents and by his brothers Samuel James March and Donald Richard March. He is survived by his wife Myra Jean March; children Gary Stephen March and Pamela Dawn Anthony; grandchildren Heather Nicole March, John Joseph March, and Ryan William Anthony; and great-granddaughter Willow Jane Anthony.
A visitation for Albert is planned for Saturday, October 19, 2019, from 1 pm to 3 pm. The visitation will be at the Spencer Funeral Home on 1234 Main Street, York, Nebraska. All are invited to attend. The funeral will follow immediately at 3 pm.
People wishing to honor Albert’s lifelong commitment to family and community can make donations to the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation. Please send all donations to PO Box 1321 North Platte, NE 69103.
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3. For a Step-Dad
On Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019, Demetrius Malik Smith was called home at the age of 47. The world has lost a great son, brother, husband, father, and leader.
Demetrius was born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 4th, 1972. He relocated to Tampa, Florida as a teenager with his mother and younger brother. Demetrius was a skilled football player. But his mother insisted that education always be his priority. He was a starting player for the Florida State University football team, but his real passion was behind-the-scenes. Demetrius held a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training and a Master’s of Science in Exercise Physiology.
If you asked Demetrius, his greatest accomplishment wasn’t his football legacy or his career. It was being a father. Demetrius met his wife Claudia Denise Marquez through a mutual friend. It was love at first sight. That love grew to include Claudia’s young daughter Sasha. Claudia and Sasha called Demetrius her bonus dad instead of her step-father. Sasha formally took his last name when she turned eighteen.
Demetrius is survived by his mother Coretta, brother Derrick, wife Claudia, and daughter Sasha. He was preceded in death by his father Marvin Ronald Smith. Join Demetrius’ family for a homegoing service on Saturday, October 26th, 2019 at 11 am. The service will be held at Zion AME Church in Tallahassee, FL on 2468 Bethel Avenue.
4. For a Father-in-Law
On Saturday, October 12th, 2019, at 11 am, the family of James Michael O’Leary welcomes you to join them. A green burial will be held at the Foxfield Preserve located at 9887 Alabama Ave. SW in Wilmot, Ohio, 44689.
James was born on July 14, 1949, in Cleveland, Ohio. Orphaned at a young age, he spent many of his formative years in orphanages. As a teenager, he turned to factory work to make a living. In his early twenties, he fell in love with Kathleen Rose Murphy, a seamstress. The two married and welcomed their son Patrick Francis O’Leary to the world in 1974.
Sadly, Kathleen died in an accident when their son was young. James raised Patrick as a single father. James remained devoted to Kathleen even after her death. He never remarried. Patrick married into the Norman family of Canton, Ohio in 1998. Both father and son were welcomed into the Norman family fold. When Patrick passed away in 2010 from Pancreatic cancer, the Normans provided James with much-needed support. He was, and always will be, a part of their family.
Though James grew up in the city, he found solace in nature. He was the most connected to his family when exploring the hiking trails surrounding Canton. His surviving family will return him to the earth in a green burial. James requested this burial as a way to be eternally connected to his parents, his wife, and his son.
James Michael O’Leary is survived by his daughter-in-law Sarah Norman O’Leary; his granddaughters Hannah Olivia O’Leary and Ashley Elizabeth O’Leary; and countless extended family and found family members. All held him in the highest regard and loved him dearly.
5. For a Father Who Died Unexpectedly
On Wednesday, October 9, 2019, the Harkness family lost their hero in a tragic accident. Noah Sullivan “Sully” Harkness lost his life rescuing his family from a fire that engulfed their home. Sully was able to get his father outside. He succumbed to smoke inhalation when he went back to help his wife with their young children.
Sully was born in Ellsworth on August 6th, 1991. While attending Ellsworth High School he became interested in the boat building club. During his tenure, he grew skilled in the art of wooden boat building. After graduation, he started his own business building custom wooden boats. He also provided servicing and restoration to vintage wooden boats. To preserve the tradition of boat making, he taught classes.
Family members will be scattering Sully’s ashes at sea in a private ceremony. To honor Sully’s memory they will be traveling to sea in several of his handcrafted boats. Friends and members of the community are invited to join the Harkness family on Saturday, October 19, 2019, at 5 pm for a celebration of life service. Join us at the Maple Oak Funeral Home on 8642 Main Street in Ellsworth.
Sully is survived by his father Mark Brian Harkness; his wife Amanda Ava Harkness; and his daughters Zoe Savannah Harkness and Skylar Brianna Harkness. He is predeceased by his mother Crystal Lee Harkness. His tireless love and devotion to his family were evident in his final moments.
6. For a Father Who Battled a Long Illness
If you asked a hundred people who Paul Thomas Carter was, they’d all give you a different story. A secret agent. A superhero. The tallest man in the world. An elephant tamer. The world’s oldest baby. A garden hose salesman. A movie star. A lost prince from an alternate universe. The last unicorn tamer in the galaxy.
Paul was none of these things, or perhaps he was all of them. What he was, was a storyteller. From the time he was young he was constantly spinning yarns. It didn’t matter if he was trying to entertain his seatmate during a boring lesson. Or trying to distract his brothers and sisters from the fact that the cupboards were bare. No matter the occasion, Paul had a story.
It’s no surprise that Paul featured as the hero of most of his tales. He was born in Brooklyn on December 24th, 1950. He was an early Christmas present to his unprepared family. Paul was born two months premature, and he had underdeveloped lungs. This left him with debilitating asthma that limited his ability to play with other kids his age. Instead, he developed a rich inner life. He drew comic books starring kids in his class and sold them for a nickel. He was able to help take care of his siblings with this money. He turned these talents into an illustrious career as a bestselling children’s author.
Paul never had children, but he considered every child who loved his stories part of his family. While hospitalized with complications from his asthma, Paul had a lot of time to write his obituary. He asks you to remember this last message: keep telling stories. It is our stories that connect us and unite us. It is through our stories that we can change the world.
Where Can You Post an Obituary for a Father?
Now that you’ve written an obituary for a father figure in your life, it’s time to distribute it. Here is a short list of places where people may expect to see an obituary:
Traditionally, newspapers have always been the primary destination for publishing obituaries. Most newspapers still have a dedicated obituary page or section. Generally speaking, you will contact the local newspaper in your area about publishing an obituary. If the deceased split their time between two locations (for example, a snowbird who lives in Michigan for most of the year but spends winters in Florida), you can contact the paper in each area.
Online memorial sites
As technology has evolved, so have social conventions. Now that the internet has become more accessible, obituaries have started moving online instead of or in addition to newspapers.
Several websites offer a space for people to post online memorials. Here at Cake, we’ve established a service that will enable people to create beautiful memorial websites without requiring a ton of technical expertise. You can post an obituary, a photograph of the deceased, funeral details, and more. We are happy to offer this service at no cost.
Funeral home website
When people die, events like memorial services and burials are often coordinated through a funeral home. Many funeral homes have gotten on board with technology, too. Many funeral homes will publish obituaries on their website or even help facilitate online memorial pages like those referenced above. Speak to the funeral director to find out if that’s a service they provide.
It used to be that people's social circles were restricted mainly to the area where they lived. Now that social media has become such a significant aspect of our daily lives, we can build close friendships with people from all over the world.
Most social media platforms have policies in place to handle accounts after users have died. They will typically work with either an immediate family member or the estate's executor. Some platforms like Twitter will deactivate the account. But platforms like Facebook will switch the account to memorial status, so people can still leave messages to their late loved one and connect with other mourners. In cases like the latter, you can post the deceased's obituary on their page so that friends farther away can be kept in the loop.
Obituaries for Father Figures
A human life is a collection of stories. The obituary serves as a final telling of some of those stories. If you don’t know as much as you think you should about their lives, there’s no time like the present to begin learning.