14 May, 2010

Happy Birthday Nana

This is a post I ran on May 14th of last year. Due to popular demand, and a campaign waged by ADG over at camp Maxminimus, I am re-running it in honor of my Nana...

Since the 14th of May is my late Nana's birthday, I thought I'd share her infamous obituary with you. Written by my mother's brother, my Uncle David, it debuted in Raleigh's News and Observer but soon gained international notoriety.

The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC:
ON JUNE 3, 2005 at 10:45 p.m. in Memphis, Tennessee, Dorothy Gibson Cully, 86, died peacefully, while in the loving care of her two favorite children, Barbara and David. All of her breath leaked out.

The mother of four children, grandmother to 11, great-grandmother to nine, devoted wife for 56 years to the late Ralph Chester Cully and a true friend to many, Dot had been active as a volunteer in the Catholic Church and other community charities for much of the past 25 years.

She was born the second child of six in 1919 as Frances Dorothy Gibson, daughter to Kathleen Heard Gibson and Calvin Hooper Gibson, an inventor best known as the first person since the Middle Ages to calculate the arcane lead-to-gold formula. Unable to actually prove this complex theory scientifically, and frustrated by the cruel conspiracy of the so-called "scientific community" working against his efforts, he ultimately stuck his head in a heated gas oven with a golden delicious apple propped in his mouth. Miraculously, the apple was saved for the evening dessert. Calvin was not.

Native Marylanders and long time Baltimore, Kent Island and Ocean City residents, Ralph and Dot later resided in Lakeland, Florida and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Several years after Ralph's death, Dot moved to Raleigh in 2001, where she lived with her son, David.

At the time of her death, Dot was visiting her daughter, Carol in Memphis. Carol and her husband, Ron, away from home attending a "very important conference" at a posh Florida resort, rushed home 10 days later after learning of the death. Dot's other children, dutifully at their mother's side helping with the normal last minute arrangements - hospice notification, funeral parlor notice, revising the last will, etc. - happily picked up the considerable slack of the absent former heiress.

Dot is warmly remembered as a generous, spiritually strong, resourceful, tolerant and smart woman, who was always ready to help and never judged others or their shortcomings. Dot always found time to knit sweaters, sew quilts and send written notes to the family children, all while working a full time job, volunteering as Girl Scout leader and donating considerable time to local charities and the neighborhood Catholic Church.

Dot graduated from Eastern High School at 15, worked in Baltimore full time from 1934 to 1979, beginning as a factory worker at Cross & Blackwell and retiring after 30 years as property manager and controller for a Baltimore conglomerate, Housing Engineering Company, all while raising four children, two of who are fairly normal.

An Irishwoman proud of and curious about her heritage, she was a voracious reader of historical novels, particularly those about the glories and trials of Ireland. Dot also loved to travel, her favorite destination being Eire's auld sod, where she dreamed of the magic, mystery and legend of the Emerald Isle.

Dot Cully is survived by her sisters, Ginny Torrico in Virginia, Marian Lee in Florida and Eileen Adams in Baltimore; her brother, Russell Gibson of Fallston, Maryland; her children, Barbara Frost of Ocean City, Maryland, Carol Meroney of Memphis, Tennessee, David Cully of Raleigh, North Carolina and Stephen Cully of Baltimore, Maryland.

Contributions to the Wake County (NC) Hospice Services are welcomed. Opinions about the details of this obit are not, since Mom would have liked it this way.

As you may see, I do indeed come by this honestly, for the tongue-in-cheek apple doesn't fall far from the tongue-in-cheek tree...


  1. Priceless.

    Thanks for posting this. First smile of the day.

  2. Haha! Love this obituary. I'm sure Nana is amused, looking down at you remembering this post. I can only hope my obituary is as tongue-in-cheek as hers. Love it! :)

  3. Awww that's awesome! I love it! My husband gave a funny eulogy about my gran when she died...my son hiccuped through the whole thing lol! My gran would've loved it!

    I love when people dont take themselves too seriously :O)

  4. Your nana sounds just like my wonderful Mema. If you've read/seen the movie "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood", Mema was every bit like Mrs. Vivi Walker. Her obit was similar in wit and bite to your Nana's only she requested we add that "while she was a devote wife for 50 years, her husband was only devoted for 30."

  5. loved it when I read it last year and I still love it now. she's quite the dame and I am sure your Nana and my Nanny (both Memphis gals) are having a riproarer up in the sky!



  6. I was SO hoping you'd print this again. I have already decided to do something similar when the opportunity arises - NOT, of course that I'm wishing for it by any means. I have also kept this since last year, as instructions should I, be hit by a bus or more than likely a speeding taxi when crossing 13th street. I hope you don't mind.

    I tend to think you're Nana might be happy that she inspired so many.

  7. Love it and it put a smile on my face when I needed one! I am vaquely remembering this from the Raleigh paper as I live "next door" in Durham. Your nana (my mom is nana to her grandangels) sounds like she was an amazing and wonderful woman. You were very blessed.

  8. Just loved this post! I have never read an obit like this before, it put a smile on my tired face today!
    Have a great weekend!

  9. That is a delight! Precisely the right way to go out! xoxo

  10. This is so fab! She reminds me of my late Grandma! This just made my day!



  11. Your Nana sounds like she was a fabulous woman and ahead of her time. Your uncle is a total hoot!

  12. Still one of the best things I've ever read. Now get that Uncle David to guest post something on your bloggie-bloggie-blog.


    Ps...Did you get that cat's hairdo fixed?

  13. Wow! Don't know who is cooler...Uncle David or Nana! You come from the coolest, that's for sure!

  14. Love your grandmother's obit. Thank you for re-posting. Sounds like she was a fabulous woman who lead a wonderful life....

  15. Honey...I do believe we might be related. My mother and I are currently in negotiations about the arrangements for her funeral.....date and time TBD depending on when she decides to die. She is thinking it all over.

  16. What a great obit!!! Hah! LOVE it!!

  17. OMG. I always wondered about the story behind that obit and if it was even for a real person.