Category Archives: Obituaries

Obituary: James Doyle, Lower Burns Park resident whose home was rehabbed by community groups in 2006

Mr. Jim Doyle, a long time Lower Burns Park resident, passed away late last month at the Grand Rapids VA. Mr. Doyle had lived at 1023 Granger Ave. for over 50 years. He served in the Philippines on General MacArthur’s staff during the war. After the war, Mr. Doyle returned to Ann Arbor where after the passing of his parents, he spent the majority of his adult life taking care of his younger brother who was severely disabled.

Some of you may remember Mr. Doyle from the efforts to refurbish his house by Veteran groups back in 2006. Mr. Doyle was a friendly man who always had a smile on his face and a penchant for whole milk and chocolate candy bars.

Thanks to Graydon Krapohl for the information.


Facebook and obituaries, part 2

Facebook seems to be the place where I find out about deaths in people’s families. It’s a little jarring sometimes to have a newsfeed of cat video, advertisement, funny meme, obituary, cat video etc. It certainly makes me want to read down far enough in my feed that I haven’t missed anything.

For all that Facebook is good at capturing people’s thoughtfulness in the moment, it’s a lousy place to publish anything enduring. That’s why when a proper obituary is written I like to cut and paste it out of wherever it has been and post it here. It seems that unless you do that the words so carefully and lovingly written disappear, either into the unsearchable maw of Facebook or into the tattered yellow clippings of a typical newspaper obituary site. You’ll see a few of them in the obituaries category here.

I’ve written previously about Facebook and obituaries, so this is more a reminder and a capture of a few thoughts than something earth-shakingly new. I have to wonder how the net will evolve over time and whether some hip new service of the moment will transform into something that people use to share their time of grief.

Obituary: Greg Peters, 50; Louisiana political cartoonist

 An obituary for Greg Peters is in Gambit, a New Orleans publication that he contributed political cartoons to. I knew him from high school in Marquette (from debate and High School Bowl) and hadn’t stayed in touch for years, so this was a bit of a shock.

Bottom, from left: Tom Baldini (coach), me (alternate), Greg Peters, Joel White, Kerry Johnson, Mike Coyne, David Goldsmith (host). “Nothing you learn is ever wasted.”

The obit as published in

Cartoonist and writer Greg Peters died Friday morning, Aug. 2, after emergency surgery at Ochsner Medical Center. Mr. Peters, who had suffered from a congenital heart condition throughout his life, was 50 years old.

Born in Marquette, Mich., Peters arrived in Louisiana in 1990 to pursue a doctorate in English literature at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He became best known as the creator of “Suspect Device,” a starkly crafted, blackly funny Louisiana-themed political comic strip that made its debut in 1996, in the Times of Acadiana, and ran in New Orleans’ Gambit Weekly from 1999 to 2010. “Suspect Device” famously pulled no punches: In 1998, editor Harris Meyer resigned from the Times of Acadiana, when the paper’s publisher refused to run one of Mr. Peters’ strips.

“Suspect Device” was recognized with awards from the Press Club of New Orleans and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and in 2004 was anthologized in “Attitude 2: The New Subversive Alternative Cartoonists.” Mr. Peters’ work was displayed in exhibitions in conjunction with the book at New York City’s Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art.

Greg Peters was “one of the few alternative weekly political cartoonists whose mission is to skewer local and state politicians,” anthology editor Ted Rall told Gambit’s Scott Jordan in a 2004 profile of Mr. Peters. “One would think that there would be such a cartoonist, or several, in every major city, but there just aren’t,” he said.

“Coupled with an over-the-top clip-art style and incredibly distinct cartooning personality, Greg’s strip is everything that his readers and editors can hope for.”

Mr. Peters’ distinctive style involved the use of stock clip art images, arranged and annotated with wry, extensive text to skewer public figures.

“The clip art thing was always a punk staple,” Mr. Peters told Jordan. “Like the cut-out letters and clip art that Jamie Reid, the Sex Pistols designer, did using Queen Elizabeth with the safety clip through her cheek picture. They’re very much out of the DIY ethos. And the attitude simply of baseline mistrust for authority, and the demand that you be shown, not told.”

Greg Peters is survived by his parents, Reg and Kay Peters of Lafayette; his partner, Eileen Loh; his former wife, Saundra Scarce; and his two sons, Wilder, 12, and Magnus, 10. Plans for a memorial service in the New Orleans area are pending. 

more: Levees Not War.

Facebook and obituaries

More often than not, I am hearing about the death of friends or family through Facebook. I suppose this isn't surprising; after all, I hear about babies born on the same site. Local newspapers are too slow or too local or publish too infrequently to be a source for family news. The Facebook wall makes as good a place as any to share condolences and to make plans for funerals.

In the news:

Huffington Post, Death on Facebook Now Common

Memorialization Request, Facebook

ABC News on MyDeathSpace, 2006

Huffington Post, On MyDeathSpace, Morbidly Curious Unpack Deaths, Profiles Of People They Never Knew, 2012

Obituary: Karl Pohrt, 65, owner of Ann Arbor’s Shaman Drum Bookshop

Karl Pohrt died Wednesday, July 10, 2013, after a battle with anaplastic thyroid cancer. He wrote about books and life on his weblog "there is no gap". Karl was the owner of the Shaman Drum Bookshop, an independent bookstore on Ann Arbor's State Street which closed in 2009 after a 29 year run.

Some obituaries from the net:

Publisher's Weekly:  "Karl Pohrt was a true bookman: a bookseller, compulsive reader, and a publisher as well. He had a very strong sense of the material and spiritual value of the reading experience. He was a man with a mission and an unshakeable devotion to the idea that books could transform human beings and the world for the better," said Bruce Joshua Miller of Miller Trade Marketing in Chicago. 

Media Bistro:  "I will never forget the hours and hours I spent in his bookshop as a college student, discovering some of the most important books of my lifetime." Jason Boog

Open Letter: "I’ll never forget all of the visits to Shaman Drum in Ann Arbor, which was one of the greatest independent bookstores ever. And Karl was one of the greatest managers ever. He assembled an amazing crew of employees, and did more for literature in Ann Arbor than the massive (also now defunct) competitor down the road . . ." Chad Post

Shelf Awareness: Mary Bisbee-Beek, who knew Karl when she lived in Ann Arbor, remembered: "Karl told great stories and loved really off-beat movies. He loved to travel and he adored his two daughters, Tanya and Tasha. Family meant the world to him and community…if you were in Karl's world he was unstintingly loyal. If he loved a book, he'd make sure everyone knew about it. I loved to talk to him about books and always felt on top of the world when I presented him with something that he connected with–it was like a good luck charm for the book and the author!"

A memorial service will be held for Pohrt on Sunday, July 14, at 2 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, 3257 Lohr Road, Ann Arbor. The family requests that donations be made to the church or to the Children’s Literacy Network.



Douglas Engelbart (1925-2013) – inventor of interactive computing

Douglas Engelbart has died at the age of 88.

New York Times obit from John Markoff:

Douglas C. Engelbart, a visionary scientist whose singular epiphany in 1950 about technology’s potential to expand human intelligence led to a host of inventions — among them the computer mouse — that became the basis for both the Internet and the modern personal computer, died on Tuesday at his home in Atherton, Calif. He was 88.

Engelbart was known for this 1968 (!) demo of interactive computing:

The story goes that while in World War II stationed on an island he read the Vannevar Bush work “As We May Think“, and it became the foundation for his work.

Retraction watch: Joe Paterno

Note to self: never ever report anyone is dead. (MGoBlog, via Twitter)

UPDATE: Penn State football coach Joe Paterno died January 22, 2012, of complications from lung cancer treatment. He was 85. Hours before, his death was prematurely announced by multiple news services, prompting retractions and apologies from those organizations. extends apology to Paterno family:

Earlier Saturday night, published an unsubstantiated report that former Penn State coach Joe Paterno had died. That mistake was the result of a failure to verify the original report. holds itself to high journalistic standards, and in this circumstance tonight, we fell well short of those expectations.

Onward State Managing Editor Resigns After Paterno Death Report, Knight News:

The twitter account that first reported former Penn State coach Joe Paterno died just posted an update linking to a letter of resignation from its managing editor, Devon Edwards.

Once the normally reputable national CBS Sports outlet picked up the student news source’s story, the now-retracted report of Paterno’s death went national.

Inside Breaking News: The Paterno story: What went wrong

Our editor noted that CBS Sports — a trusted source — reported Paterno’s death around 9pm ET. The CBS Sports headline and story was based, seemingly, on erroneous reporting by the Penn State student publication ‘Onward State.’ The original CBS Sports obituary didn’t directly attribute the student paper.  The Huffington Post followed with a story.

SB Nation: Explaining The Reports Of Joe Paterno's Passing And An Apology

Before publishing, we waited for multiple reports from national outlets. The reports spread to numerous trusted sources, sparking our own decision to publish a post as a result. It was based not on our own reporting, but on the reporting of others.

Jeff Sonderman has a chronicle on Storify of the false reports and retractions. Many in the news media waited for the AP report before running a story, and thus they were spared the need to reverse themselves. Penn Live has the family's reaction:

Joe Paterno is not dead. 

That's about as blunt as it gets, as sources close to the Paterno family say that the family is tremendously upset with CBS Sports and other news media who have erroneously reported Paterno's passing.

As of this writing, though, People Magazine still has an obituary online, citing the CBS Sports article as its source.

The title of this post is a nod to the weblog Retraction Watch, which tracks retractions in the scientific literature.