There is some great additional detail on a story from True’s 16 August 2015 issue. To start with, you need the story:
I Have No Words
“It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away.” So said Dorothy McElhaney, 104, of Colonial Heights, Va., in the obituary she apparently wrote for herself, which went viral online when the Richmond Times-Dispatch published it. It was a touching story of love spanning more than a century of cultural change. One problem: it was largely plagiarized from Emily DeBrayda Phillips’s self-written obituary — and not by McElhaney, but by her daughter, Glenna Kramer, 72, who used the structure and some of the most moving prose of the Florida woman’s obituary, together with facts from McElhaney’s life, to construct her mother’s paid obit. “This has turned into quite a firestorm, one that I had not anticipated,” Kramer said. (AC/Richmond Times-Dispatch) …She wanted everyone to remember her mother. Or somebody else just as special.
The same issue included this update:
A Wonderful Little Addition to Alexander’s pilfered obituary story — with Bonus Namefreak! Emily DeBrayda Phillips also had a daughter, and heard about the plagiarism. “This is kind of strange but sweet in a way,” she said. “If my mom’s words made an impact to a stranger’s family in a positive way, and they chose to use it, then that’s, I think, a great honor to my mother. I just would like my mother to be remembered for those words, because they absolutely were hers.” She certainly holds the high ground here, even before I tell you her name: Bonnie Upright.
That brought this letter from Lori in North Carolina:
Thank you SO much for covering the story of “I Have No Words.” We were so proud of Emily, my cousin-in-law, when her brilliant, funny, completely Emily obituary was published after her earlier this year. When the obit went viral, we were amazed but could imagine Emily smiling. Needless to see, I was shocked when I first saw Ms. McElhaney’s obituary shared by someone on Facebook. Although Emily’s daughter, Bonnie, has handled the episode with substantial doses of graciousness, your post certainly expresses the real deal of this matter. Thank you for saying what her family could not.
Indeed, when I saw it going around on Facebook, I thought it was important for people to see the other side of the coin. I told Lori, “I’m glad that at least some in the family saw the TRUE story!”
And she replied:
We did! And I passed it along to Bonnie Upright. I love what you wrote about her.
You nailed the other side of the coin. Thanks again. AND I finally clicked through and became a paid subscriber.
I love it when the families involved with a story like True’s treatment, especially when True says “what the family could not.” Satisfactory!
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