A former community college dean’s life has gotten a lot of attention in the past few days, even though he just died.
According to an article in yesterday’s USA Today, Harry Dean’s daughter, Amanda Lewis, wrote her father’s obituary while driving to the Mississippi town where passed away, and oh what a send-off it is.
Comically light-hearted, incredibly loving, and charmingly irreverent, this most unusual obit found it’s way onto quite a few computer screens fairly quickly, and not surprisingly, went viral, which Lewis notes, would have meant something different to her dad than it means to the rest of the world.
“He wouldn’t know what going viral means,” she told the Sun Herald newspaper, where the obituary was published. “(It) would have excited him to have another illness to lord over folks.”
So, what does it say?
Well, how about these gems?
Harry was locally sourcing his food years before chefs in California starting using cilantro and arugula (both of which he hated). For his signature bacon and tomato sandwich, he procured 100% all white Bunny Bread from Georgia, Blue Plate mayonnaise from New Orleans, Sauer’s black pepper from Virginia, home grown tomatoes from outside Oxford, and Tennessee’s Benton bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription. As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life.
And we learn more about the man in one sentence than we almost ever do in those boring traditional obits that are mostly just depressing and dour:
He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on.
And who doesn’t feel like they might have missed out on knowing a true original when they realized they missed knowing this guy.
He was fond of saying a phrase he coined “I am not running for political office or trying to get married” when he was “speaking the truth.”
Harry took fashion cues from no one. His signature every day look was all his: a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom, his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam’s on Highway 49, and a pair of old school Wallabees (who can even remember where he got those?) that were always paired with a grass-stained MSU baseball cap.