A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

20 of the Funniest Obituaries That Will Have You Dying Laughing

There are going to be tears when a loved one dies. You might as well make them happy ones with a funny obituary.

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Tickled to death

Gosh, some people really do just stop in their tracks to be quietly amazed and entertained by the ones they love, then mentally file those images away to later craft into funny obituaries and eulogies capable of bringing down the house. Some of these obits are so pithy they should be written in stone—and some were—to become the funniest tombstones (that actually exist!).

And if that’s not quite enough to satisfy you, then you won’t want to miss these dark humor memes or unforgettably funny last words.

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“A certain alignment in the stars”

When longtime Rolling Stone editor Harriet Fier died in 2018, the Washington Post ran a warm and amusing obituary that chronicled Fier’s colorful and interesting life, including an anecdote about why she stayed an extra day after the Woodstock concert in 1969: “I spent the whole next morning picking up garbage because I felt bad about leaving a big mess.”

But for fans of lawyer jokes, the best part may be why she ended up joining Rolling Stone in the first place. “As Ms. Fier told friends, she had no firm direction after college and might well have attended law school if she had not joined Rolling Stone.” And for those who enjoy poking fun at journalists, her obit also explains that when Fier was hired in the early 1970s, the standards were a little different. They amounted to little more than “a certain alignment in the stars. Interview paperwork asked for an applicant’s sun, moon and rising signs.”

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“Mary Anne chose to pass into the eternal love of God”

Born and raised in Virginia—often a swing state, we might add—Mary Anne Alfriend Noland, a wife, mother, grandmother and 1970 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Nursing, up and died just six months before the 2016 presidential election, timing her obituary references as an extreme aversion to the choice of candidates.

And just in case this sounds maybe a little too much like poetic justice to be an actual obit, please know that Mrs. Noland’s obituary has passed the Snopes test and been deemed legit. Just one more thing: Is it too soon to trot out the side-splitting nurse jokes?

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“If someone wants to contact me, that would be nice”

Clearly, Mrs. Mary “Pink” Mullaney was a giver of reliably pithy life advice, because when the widow died in 2013, one (or more) of her many loved ones crafted an obituary for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal that featured what we can only guess to be a mere handful of Pink’s chestnuts.

In addition to the above-quoted message-in-a-bottle-style advice, Mullaney had a suggestion for dealing with uninvited critters trespassing in your out-buildings: “If a possum takes up residence in your shed, grab a barbecue brush to coax him out. If he doesn’t leave, brush him for 20 minutes and let him stay.”

As for why you might be craving a chicken sandwich after church, it might be because Pink advised her loved ones to bring one to Sunday service and give it to a “homeless friend” after mass.

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“Tell them that check is in the mail”

“Waffle House lost a loyal customer on April 30, 2013” begins the New York Times obituary of Antonia “Toni” Larroux of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. And it only gets more amusing from there. Larroux’s children from her marriage to Jean F. Larroux Jr., Jean Larroux III and Hayden Hoffman, decided to honor their mother with an obituary that reads like a standup comedian’s tight-five.

“The family started to write a normal obit,” Larroux III told HuffPost, before realizing that their mom wouldn’t want it that way. Some of the obituary’s greatest hits include a suggestion that Larroux III and Hoffman might be illegitimate (we assume from the context that folks had been speculating for years) and a spoiler alert to the effect that Toni and her sisters were not, in fact, natural blondes. And then, of course, there are those aforementioned famous last words.

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“Your father is a very sick man”

When Connecticut native Joe Heller, a chemist and former Yale Law School librarian, died in 2019 at the age of 82, he left behind a legacy of humor—literally, in the form of three witty daughters. They begin their dad’s Hartford Courant obituary as follows: “Joe Heller made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on September 8, 2019, signing off on a life, in his words, ‘generally well-lived and with few regrets.'” They go on to say, “When the doctors confronted his daughters with the news last week that ‘Your father is a very sick man,’ in unison they replied, ‘You have no idea.'”

He was a lifelong prankster, according to the obit, and when Heller was born “God thankfully broke the mold.” Just to be clear, if the jokes are about your dad, they still count as dad jokes. And if you thought these quips were good, check out these funny road signs worth slowing down for.

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“Jesus had a backache only the world’s greatest chiropractor could fix”

So begins the obituary of Seguin, Texas, chiropractor Dr. Mark Flanagan, 62, which was apparently written by the “most handsome” of his sons on behalf of the rest of his children, grandchildren, siblings, friends and patients. If Flanagan weren’t dead, it might be the greatest Yelp review ever written.

Not only was Dr. Flanagan described as the “world’s greatest chiropractor,” he also had “more dolphin paraphernalia than a gift shop at one of those places with actual dolphins.” We’re not quite sure we understand the “porpoise” of that one, but perhaps the clue lies in “clicking” on these animal puns.

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“First Church of God, which she attended for 60 years in spite of praise music”

When 79-year-old Betty Jo Passmore died in 2014, the longtime Tampa Bay, Florida, resident and lover of mystery novels and dark chocolate left behind a large and wonderfully witty family, including her husband, to whom she was married for 61 years despite not always agreeing on fiction genres or ice cream flavors (Mr. Passmore always voted for westerns and butter pecan). But let’s not forget the daughter who gave her two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, and the other one, Betty Jo’s, um, “spinster” daughter (who, odds are, wrote this Tampa Bay Times obit with a loving gleam in her eye).

Nor will we be able to forget that one final dig at Tampa’s First Church of God. Apparently, Mrs. Passmore went gently into that good night after an impressive record of regular church attendance under her belt, notwithstanding her apparent disdain for all the “praise music and A/V presentations.” Speaking of which, don’t miss these sinfully funny church signs.

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“Who the h*** taught her to fly?”

We don’t know if Lois Ann Harry was a gun owner, but the 88-year-old Idaho Falls, Idaho, resident sure sounds like something of a pistol. “Lois Ann Harry …. was reported missing and presumed deceased … when the Cessna Skyhawk she stole and was piloting lost contact with air traffic control over the Gulf of Mexico,” her 2019 obituary begins. “Eyewitnesses report Lois was last seen leaving the Homestead in the backseat of an Uber wearing dark glasses and an ushanka.” And yes, the question above remains unanswered.

So, she was a pilot? Or was it a professional gambler, race car driver or botanist who specialized in recreational marijuana for sale in Washington state? Or something else entirely? This hilariously eclectic paean to one undeniably fun-loving great-great-grandmother tells of a woman who clearly laughed with her loved ones and, occasionally, at herself.

“Thank you, Mom, Grammy, Oma, Grape, Meemaw Beep for your sense of humor,” it concludes, cleverly straddling the line between funny obituaries and those uplifting quotes that get you “right here.”

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“She loved [her family] more than anything else in the world, except …”

Jan Lois Lynch of Boston was a single mother who loved her family, including her four sons and eight grandkids—albeit maybe not quite as much as some of life’s other pleasures. When she died in 2018 at age 75, her loved ones authored this good-hearted Courier Press obituary, specifying exactly what those other pleasures were, and we quote: “the New England Patriots, the Boston Red Sox, Tom Brady, cold Budweiser, room temperature Budweiser, cigarettes, dogs, mopeds, clam chowder, boating, fishing, Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, grouper sandwiches, adventures, road trips, the beach, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, fall foliage, airplane food, ingrown toenails, the O.J. chase and the O.J. trial—in that exact order.”

As for this book-loving, beer-swilling adrenaline junkie’s cause of death, it’s unclear exactly, but no one should count out terminal stubbornness and a virulent case of armchair quarterbacking. Jan was a woman after our own fun-loving hearts, so you just know she wouldn’t have backed down from visiting one of the remaining ghost towns around the world.

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“Doug died”

Yep, that’s all she wrote, as they say. Douglas Legler of Fargo, North Dakota, passed away in June 2015, but not before penning his own two-word obituary, according to InForum, a hyper-local news outlet for the Fargo, Moorehead and West metropolitan area.

“Doug died,” this viral obit reads. In keeping with the TL;DR spirit, let’s just say it gives new meaning to the old adage “brevity is the soul of wit.”

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“It pains me to admit it, but apparently I have passed away”

And so begins the earthly signoff of one Emily DeBrayda Phillips, 69, apparently writing from a laptop somewhere in the great beyond on the occasion of her 2015 self-authored obituary, published in the Florida Times-Union. “Everyone told me it would happen one day, but that’s simply not something I wanted to hear, much less experience.” Well, it couldn’t have happened to a more hilariously self-aware human than this mother, who was decidedly not sorry for making her daughter wear “no frills” jeans as a kid, nor for red-shirting her son … back in kindergarten (no, seriously, Red Rover is surprisingly competitive!).

“If you want to, you can look for me in the evening sunset or with the earliest spring daffodils or among the flitting and fluttering butterflies. You know I’ll be there in one form or another. Of course, that will probably comfort some while antagonizing others, but you know me … it’s what I do.” Any questions? Sorry, “too late,” concludes this first-person obit in punny fashion.

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“She wants her gold teeth back from the dentist that yanked them”

Karen “Lue” Short’s 2014 obituary in The Brookline begins on the staid side but quickly veers into that elusive sweet spot known as funny obituaries. After establishing that “Lue spent her life as a nonconformist, filled with humor and adventure,” it goes on to say that she “died at home with her parrot by her side” while listening to Ricky Martin croon “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”

It then doubles down on the mirth with the above-quoted missive. But that’s exactly the sort of witticism you’d expect in the obituary of someone who requested “Another One Bites the Dust” be played at her funeral.

Even more charmingly, this ode to Lue affectionally reminds the world of the sixty-something Indiana native’s nickname, “Hot Dog Lady,” given to her by the college students who frequented her hot dog stand. Humor aside, it’s clear it was said with love and respect and in the shared spirit of gentle ribbing.

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“Bill Brown finally stopped bugging everybody”

Rabble rouser Bill Brown’s Kansas City Star obituary, which begins with the aforementioned missive, details his lifelong commitment to mischief, all the way up until he roused his last rabble in October 2013, at the age of 91. And apparently, that sweet release came not a moment too soon for Brown’s loved ones, who were forced (out of love, of course) to endure his endless unsolicited fist bumps and informal races against “other oldsters” to claim an empty chair. Indeed, karma being the glitch that it is, that’s how Brown broke his hip, which led “eventually to his well-earned demise.”

Given that opening, it perhaps won’t surprise anyone to learn that this grandfather of many met his wife, whom he married in 1942, while “trying to scare neighbor kids by acting like a barking dog when he threw open the front door, only to find himself barking at the Avon lady.” Now, find out about these people who faked their own death.

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“The hopeless condition of the Cleveland Browns”

Here we have not one, but two entirely separate and unrelated funny obituaries that can’t resist one last dig at the football team that never ceased to amaze the deceased with their “hopeless” performances on the field. The first, which appeared in The Columbus Dispatch, is that of Columbus, Ohio’s Scott Entsminger, who died in 2013 after a long career at General Motors and a lifetime of feeling let down by the Cleveland Browns’ excuse for gamesmanship.

The second, published in the Sandusky Register, belongs to Paul Stark, also of Columbus, who died in 2017, pretty much because he’d run out of hope for the Browns (but also of natural causes). Both men were hard-working husbands and fathers, and Stark was also a grandfather. But only Entsminger’s bereaved invited mourners to don Browns-logo attire in memory of their dearly departed, ever-beleaguered armchair quarterback.

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“We all know how he liked to tell stories”

William “Freddie” McCullough, 61, father of six, didn’t live as long as some, but he left an indelible mark, as his obituary makes clear in the funniest way possible. “The man. The myth. The legend. Men wanted to be him and women wanted to be with him,” it begins before going on to imply that Little Debbie, Jim Beam and Reese’s brands will all be a little poorer due to the loss of this ever-loving fan of snack cakes, bourbon and peanut butter cups.

Freddie, who “hated vegetables and hypocrites,” albeit not necessarily in that order, was a floor-covering professional by trade, according to his 2013 obit, and he was gosh dang good at it, also according to his obit. And we believe it. In fact, we believe everything in this funny obituary because whoever wrote it (and our money is on Freddie himself) points out that their dearly departed was something of a storyteller—and “you could be sure 50% of every story was true.” Sounds to us like Freddie would know lots of funny things you can ask Siri.

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“This is not a ploy to avoid creditors or old girlfriends”

When William Ziegler of New Orleans died in 2016, he might have owed you a small sum of cash, a beer or perhaps even an apology. If so, you’ll want to hit him up for it when you, too, get to Heaven, as the 69-year-old U.S. Navy veteran and retired firefighter’s Times-Picayune obituary suggests. But will he be good for it? That remains unclear. Apparently, this knee-slapper of an obituary was the work of Ziegler’s four children (and possibly some of his five grandchildren too). But we get the feeling Ziegler himself wasn’t the sort of fellow to get too bogged down in such socially correct niceties.

Reflecting on his colleagues in the fire department, this ode to a life well-laughed and well-loved reads, “William stated that there was no better group of morons and mental patients than those he had the privilege of serving with (except Bob, he never liked you, Bob).” If you do go looking for him (when the time comes), you’ll likely find him “forwarding tasteless internet jokes” with an “alcoholic dog named Judge passed out at his feet.”

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“I’m gone! The devil finally called my name”

Angus MacDonald “bit the dust,” as the good-humored 69-year-old family man put it in his self-authored 2016 obituary. “I’m gone! The devil finally called my name,” he jokes before owning up to being a “pretty nice guy (despite what some people would say).” But demur as he does, it’s clear from McDonald’s tone how much he loved and felt loved by his wife, three children, six grandchildren, 12 siblings and two beloved pets.

To prove it, he uses his irreverent obit to announce that there will be no funeral. “A funeral is a waste of harrrrrrd earned and harrrrrrd saved money that my family can use now,” McDonald explained. Moreover, being a private person, “I don’t want to end that life with people gawking at me while I lay in a coffin.” So “instead of going to see the great creator, I will be going to see the great cremator,” he concludes before providing the coordinates for his visitation and memorial service. But seriously, folks, are you aware of these rules of funeral etiquette?

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“He claimed the men were men, and so were half the women”

“Elwood ‘Buddy’ Segeske III, age 60, former soccer player, tool and die maker, and David Bowie look-alike, ate his last Philadelphia soft pretzel on February 25th, 2016,” his clever and memorable obituary begins. The survivor of a 1992 alien abduction, as the obit puts it (we’re thinking tongue-in-cheek), he left behind numerous loved ones and, seemingly inexplicably, a “battery-operated cymbal-smashing monkey.”

Apparently, Buddy’s tastes ran toward the eclectic, from smoking and drinking to parading around in yoga pants to “stalking Jennifer Lawrence and looking at boobs.” It’s possible the boobs reference is to Buddy’s hardscrabble childhood friends, most of whom ended up serving time or working as carnies.

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“He spoke from his diagram”

We’ve now come to realize that the funniest obituaries are seldom written by or for deceased career comedians, but rather upon the passing of folks who like to make people laugh just for the fun of it. One notable exception, however, is that of the famous comedian Norm Crosby, who died in 2020, at age 93.

“You might call him the Boston mangler,” begins Crosby’s obit, which appeared in the New York Times. Indeed, Crosby was the veritable “Master of the Malapropism, relating,” as he did throughout his career, “many funny antidotes, often to a standing ovulation.” Indeed, when he did so, he “spoke from his diagram.”

This well-crafted work of reverential wordplay (written by Times reporter Daniel E. Slotnick) reads like an intro to the art of the malaprop. But unlike some of these famous examples of malapropisms, all the miss-cakes here are clearly intentional.

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“Loved everything about NYC, except the New York Times”

Speaking of the New York Times, not everyone is a fan. Have you heard? If not, you might want to consider the paid death notice of one Amos Schuchman of New York, New York, who died on February 1, 2013. The loving husband, father and grandfather, who was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1928, apparently “loved everything about NYC, except the New York Times.”

And that’s pretty much all that can be gleaned from this Schuchman obit. It’s a sizzling diss, and it’s genuinely funny—even if you do happen to be a fan of New York’s Gray Lady.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.