Society
Society

Scathing, Anonymous Obituary Causes Family Rift (Photos)

| by Michael Howard

It's rare to see a hostile obituary in the newspaper, particularly when nobody knows who wrote it.

Cornelia June Rogers Miller died on Feb. 23 at the age of 82. On June 27, a newspaper in Cherokee County, North Carolina, published an obituary in which Miller is described as a drug addict who contributed nothing to society.

Miller lived in Florida but owned a summer residence in Cherokee County along with her husband, according to WTVC. The obituary, which appeared in the Cherokee Scout, is almost entirely negative.

"Drugs were a major love in her life as June had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life," the obituary reads.

"Please let June Miller’s life be a cautionary tale. Addiction and hatred are no es bueno for the living. We speak for the majority of her family when we say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed, and there will be no lamenting over her passing."

The author or authors went on to state that while they "may have some fond memories of her," they will mostly remember the deceased for not being there.

"But we truly believe at the end of the day all of us will really only miss what we never had -- a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother," they wrote.

The obituary concludes on a bitter note: "There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart. We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes. Her legacy is written."

WTVC sent the obituary to June's eldest son, Robert, and asked what he thought about it.

"The whole thing is just sad," he said, adding that he thinks his sisters are responsible.

"It's unbelievable that my sisters would write this," he said. "It's really sad that they don't have anything better to do."

But when WTVC contacted one of his sisters, she denied having anything to do with the obituary.

The Cherokee Scout's publisher, David Brown, declined to identify the person who submitted it. Asked whether he thought about rejecting the harsh obit, he stated that "the family's will overrode the editor."

In a bizarre twist, it turns out that whole sections of June's obituary were copied word for word from a 2008 obituary in the Vallejo Times Herald, a newspaper in California.

For example, the end of the 2008 obit also reads: "There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart. We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes."

Robert, who is still convinced that his sister is the author, said it reflects poorly on her character that she would plagiarize an obituary.

"Unbelievable," he told WTVC. "[She] doesn't even have the integrity to write something for herself -- just goes out and steals something."

Brown is now considering pulling the obituary from his newspaper and website. A new one, written and submitted by Robert, will reportedly be published in the coming days.

Sources: Cherokee Scout, WTVC (2) / Photo credit: Elliott Brown/Flickr, Robert Miller via WTVC, Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum via WTVC

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