Fortunately, Star Tribune reporter Matt McKinney is a professional, and he did a thorough and thoughtful job with the obituary he wrote recently about my friend Ted Papermaster.
Matt interviewed me last week, and the story ran in last Sunday’s edition along with a photo of Ted. Here's a link to it, in case you didn’t see it already: Obituary: Theodore Papermaster, longtime Twin Cities pediatrician, World War II vet.
My friend Jane Burns, a former Des Moines Register colleague of mine, wrote to me after reading the piece and said she was glad to see that the Star Tribune still sees the value in publishing obituaries on “seemingly ‘ordinary’ people who have led extraordinary lives.”
I am, too.
That’s one reason why I got into journalism in the first place; I find the stories of real people so fascinating.
It’s impossible to convey everything about a person in a short piece, but you can get to the essence of what was important to him or her, and be reminded of how one life can have an impact on so many others. I know Ted made a difference to many, many people, in ways he probably didn’t even realize.
So on this Thanksgiving Eve, I am feeling especially thankful for Ted, and all the other people I have met through researching the life and career of my bandmaster great-grandfather, G. Oliver Riggs.
Today would have been G. Oliver’s 144th birthday. He was born in 1870, on a farm outside the town of Wapello in Louisa County, Iowa. When he died at age 75, the St. Cloud Daily Times ran his obituary on the front page. The newspaper did not interview any Papermasters for that story — that would have been an interesting coincidence — but it ran a photo of G. Oliver and summarized his extraordinary life in about seven paragraphs.
|G. Oliver on left, at age 29; on right, about age 74|
Happy Birthday, G. Oliver! Here’s to celebrating many more!