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June 9, 2004

"You've got to be kidding."

It's early in the evening of Saturday, May 5, 2004. You're a newspaper editor, in charge of putting together the Sunday paper. Word comes across the wire that The Gipper has Left the Building, and as you reach for the phone to call your obituary writer, you realize, "Aw, damn, she's at the Sixth Great Obituary Writers' International Conference," and the chance of getting her on the phone is going to be slim:

Rumors that Reagan was at death�s door had been circulating for several days, but it still came as a shock when two conference participants burst through the doors crying, �Stop the presses! Stop the presses!�

A number of the approximately 45 assembled obituary professionals from America and Britain raced for the single payphone in the hotel lobby, and the winner was the thirtysomething Mr. Bernstein of the Washington Post, the most youthful reporter on hand.

...Carolyn Gilbert, who has organized each of the seven Great Obituary Writers� conferences noted that it was not the first time that reports of a major death had disrupted proceedings. �At the second conference [in 1999] we had a false report of Bob Hope�s death,� she said.

[From the New York Sun]

With excitement like that, attendance at next year's conference is going to triple, and with it the pressure to deliver another Big Departing. Place your bets early and often, folks, but be sure to bring your cell phone to the conference, so as to avoid the rush for the lobby when it comes time to contact your bookie.

Posted by Brenden at June 9, 2004 11:13 PM


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