Obituary writing

Who knew writing an obituary could be so difficult? I spent over a week agonizing over it, ignoring it, postponing it. I had written his daughter (from a previous marriage) and gotten some memories/thoughts from her to include. I had his work history, his military history, his family history. I knew the story of him meeting my mom. Part of me thought I should just write your typical, generic life story…his job, his family, when he was born and when he died…and call it a day. Just a small part of me thought that, though. The rest of me knew he needed something more. Actually, I think everyone needs something more. The problem is, I only write one way. My style is my style. If I try to change it, it reads fake. My voice is all I have. So, I was nervous that my writing style might not be appropriate for such serious subject matter.  The thing is, my stepfather wasn’t all that serious. Sure, to the novice eye, he probably came across as a silent curmudgeon, but to those lucky enough to glimpse the real person…well, all they needed was one of his dry, witty comments to get it.  He just wasn’t typical and generic.

So, I asked my mom. And my sister. And I asked so hesitantly, almost like I was worried they might judge me for how I wanted to write it. God, I can’t believe how insecure I was about writing this damn thing! Anyway, they thought it sounded perfect, and my mom’s smile was all I needed….

Larry Allen Hobgood, of South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, passed away at home on May 10, 2017, after a lengthy and determined battle with cancer. He had beat it two out of three times, so his self-description of being “tough as nails” is fitting and worthy.

Larry was born on March 10, 1939, in Evansville, Indiana to Morton and Frances Hobgood. He was predeceased by his parents, his loving first wife Barbara, his son Larry Jr, his daughter Christine, his sister Charlotte, and his grandson Michael. He is surely enjoying being surrounded by that much love on the other side.  He is survived by his adoring and devoted wife, Gwendolyn; his loving daughter Barbara, her husband, Brad and grandson James; his loving brother, Douglas and his loving uncle, Billy. His quick wit and sense of humor will be missed by his step children, Jami Carder, John and Allison Viola, Cathy and Stephen Taylor, as well as their children Jason, Jessica, Rachael, Rebecca, Jack, Eric and especially Justin.

As a child, Larry was known for loving the outdoors…swimming, camping, flying kites and especially fostering strays. A natural musician, he learned to play the guitar by ear, mastering both 6 and 12 string acoustic. He dreamed of owning an airplane and spent many hours building and flying model planes. He enjoyed playing cards and checkers, but rumor has it that he was terrible at chess. However, he did find his niche in the sport of golf, winning several tournaments, trophies and awards. Who cares about chess, anyway?

Following his childhood love of airplanes, Larry joined the United States Air Force in 1956, rising to the rank of Technical Sergeant. He served in the Vietnam War, receiving multiple letters of recognition for his outstanding work ethic.  He was honorably discharged in March, 1976…a full 20 years of devoted service to our nation. There is no doubt about it… Larry Allen Hobgood loved the United States of America.

After his military career, Larry settled down in Racine, WI with his wife Barbara, and raised his family. He worked at Krones, Inc. for many years, as well as the city of Racine, until his retirement. He was an extremely loving and devoted caregiver to his wife Barbara, right up until her passing. He understood empathy. His daughter describes him as an observer of life, having a philosophical internalism with an externalism approach. Not an easy thing to figure out about someone, so when his daughter Barbara was finally able to, it brought them a deeper connection… one that surely is of comfort to her now.

After his wife’s passing, Larry happened to stumble across Gwen via a mutual friend who shared email addresses between them. Larry was instantly smitten with the online stories of Gwen’s tenacity for performing home improvement projects. One thing led to another, and before long, Gwen was visiting Wisconsin to meet Larry in person.  Just a few months later, Larry married Gwen, right in her Tulsa backyard… paying no mind to having to wear the casual denim jeans and checkered shirt he’d been in for two days, due to the airline losing his luggage. And thus began a union of love, laughter and many trips to Home Depot. Larry was happy to live in the world of never-ending projects. When Gwen needed a tool, he’d go out and buy her two…one for each floor of the house, just to save her trips up and down the stairs. That’s true love, right there.

In 2009, Larry felt it was time for Gwen to return to Massachusetts to be near her family. He selflessly sold almost everything and moved to Cape Cod, where he became semi-famous for his pulled pork, gourmet breakfasts and other culinary specialties. Unfortunately, his initial cancer diagnosis occurred shortly after his arrival to the east coast, and prohibited Larry from enjoying all the fishing he had planned to do. However, that initial cancer did not realize it had chosen someone as “tough as nails” to reside in, and Larry showed it who’s boss. He did not want to quit anything. Referred to by one of his physicians as “a pleasant challenge”, he fought right up to the end, 7 long years, and did not leave this Earth until he was damn good and ready. His mission in life was to make sure Gwen, his “Tiger”, was happy. Well, Larry Allen Hobgood…mission accomplished.

Our family would like to thank all of Larry’s medical team members, without whom the last seven years of Larry’s subtle sarcasm and dry sense of humor would not have been experienced. We would also like to extend heartfelt gratitude for his caregivers over the last two months, with a special thank you to Cindy Mancini, RN of VNA Hospice and Palliative Care of Cape Cod, for being a shining example of what hospice nursing is all about.

A memorial service will be held to honor the memory of this one of a kind soul on Saturday, June 3rd at 11am at Cape Cod Covenant Church, 11 Satucket Road, Brewster, MA.





8 thoughts on “Obituary writing”

  1. Omg you did an AMAZING job. You really did him justice. And paid tribute to him AND everyone who loved him. Wow! I read the whole thing and you wrote it So well I felt like I knew him!

  2. This is truly amazing Jami, you made me feel every word and I feel I got a special exclusive look into a person that has been close to your life. I am sorry for your loss, but I know Larry is smiling down in appreciation for the homage you have given him in this beautiful tribute.

    1. Thank you. Writing it made me realize how much I missed out on by not getting closer to him sooner. Must be a life lesson for me…something I won’t let happen again…

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