You can read it in the Sunday paper. Read all about it.

I checked for William’s obituary in the paper today. They got the photos backwards. I called to get it switched because I think my father wanted the bearded version to be the main one, but I have the little boy stack of newspapers in my mind’s eye.

I thought of my mother who always enjoyed the obituaries. In part, that was the genealogist in her: studying family networks, connecting surnames, parsing relationships. But she also reveled—and how could she not? — in the nicknames, descriptions, and lovingly weird language of New Orleans obits.

So, in memory of my mother, here are some of those who shared today’s obit page with William, who never really had a nickname.

  • Winkie
  • Dodo
  • Captain Pop
  • Doll aka Frenchie
  • Sibby, “our dear Matriarch”
  • Mimi and her mother Mamie
  • Lala and Fito
  • Turtle and Bubby
  • Puddin’ who was married to Stick
  • Monday who was married to Wikki
  • A mother called “Tauntbat”
  • A brother called “Man” and a husband called “BossMan”
  • Popie “known by the press and team members as ‘The Tiny Tarpon Torpedo’.”

They had varied talents and diverse roles:

  • “she was the family potato salad maker”
  • “her family dinners would last for hours”
  • “his children never went without fresh vegetables or ice cream”
  • she was “known for…her eclectic Northern Italian Cooking”
  • “she could be counted on to bring the ham, deviled eggs and pick the fight of which child was the prettiest (hers)”
  • “she won a beauty contest in her hometown”
  • “earning her Princess Warrior status”
  • “she beat back and recovered from strokes; heart attacks; blood clots; an ileostomy; infections; and her husband burning down their house with an unattended citronella candle…she did see the Saints win the Superbowl”
  • “a diehard Saints fan”
  • “a true diehard Saints fan”
  • “now pulling for the best team of all, the Saints in Heaven.”
  • “a loving and bossy sister”
  • “one heck of a dancer”
  • “often he would entertain us with his little jingles”
  • “organized a family and friends float for Mardi Gras every year, ‘Too Sexy Krewe’, which magnified the big heart of love and compassion [he] had for others”
  • “a symbol that she was connected to and known by was that of the mushroom”
  • “but this isn’t an airing of grievances” (included not once but four times!)

Their final moments were equally distinctive: they not only passed on, usually peacefully, sometimes unexpectedly, but also

  • departed this life
  • entered into eternal rest
  • went on to be with Jesus
  • went home to her Lord and Savior
  • transitioned to the King
  • his grandaughter “was singing to him You are my Sunshine as he gained his angel wings”
  • got his angel wings
  • walked through Heaven’s gate
  • [was] blessed with her wings into the Heavenly Gates
  • survived by his three fur babies and family
  • surrounded by family and her cats
  • “predeceased by…the Saints losing seasons [and] survived by…the Saints as a winning ball club”
  • finally ran out of luck

Many listed specific charities, schools, hospice and other ways to memorialize the departed, but one concluded

“In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to your local animal shelter, medical research, frontline healthcare workers, or buy yourself a plane ticket to someplace fun.”


William had a lot of friends and followers. It’s astounding to scroll through the tremendous outpouring of emotion from people who knew him. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people — from close friends who call themselves his brothers to internet strangers who’ve only seen him in online videos or heard him on podcasts — voicing shock, sorrow, and loss.

I’d like to repost or link to some of the astonishing things I’ve learned about my brother here. Eventually. What make it tricky is how differently everyone knew him. Context, in this case, really matters.

“We drew him in”

by Edwin Markham

He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

When I was a child, my mother taught me this poem. I’ve remembered it ever since, and drawn on it when I felt excluded. It suits this moment: people wrapped in circles, separate and overlapping.

With not much else to go on, it’s my guiding principle now.