Shortly after Cornelia June Rogers Miller passed away, an obituary appeared in a North Carolina newspaper. This particular tribute to the deceased was not customary in its savage take-down of the 82-year-old – which greatly upset the late great-grandmother’s son as a result.
It’s unclear what she did to deserve such harsh treatment. June – as Miller preferred to be called – was born in Morton, Mississippi in 1934, before moving to Gainesville, Florida. Then she permanently relocated to High Springs, FL, alongside her husband, Robert, and their son, Robert Jr.
In addition to her husband and son, June also had two daughters Marilyn Miller and Suzanne Amos. Through them and Robert Jr., June would garner a total of nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren (plus two on the way).
They had their family in Florida, but it seems that June and Robert had a long-running love affair with North Carolina. They are said to have visited their summer home in Murphy, North Carolina, whenever they could.
In 2017, Robert Jr. shared with News Channel 9 that his parents would always go to Murphy after his dad’s retirement. Those times ended in 2016 when the Millers sold their treasured retreat.
By that time, the 6.5-hour commute to Murphy, North Carolina, was too tough on June and Robert Sr. They were both getting weaker. The couple finally moved into a shared room at an assisted living facility.
In February 2017, June passed away. The wife and mother left behind her family and husband. When explaining the cause of death, Robert Jr. told News Channel 9, beyond her ripe age of 82, that he believed “she had a variety of complications.”
Following June’s passing, the Miller family coped with their loss, though it can’t have helped the grieving process when a truly brutal obituary subsequently appeared in the “Cherokee Scout.” The newspaper was a local one based in the couple’s beloved Murphy, North Carolina.
An obituary is an announcement or notice that declares someone’s death. It highlights the significant aspects of that person’s life – the family members they have left behind or notable achievements. Usually, it ends with any funeral details on behalf of the deceased.
A close relative often writes obituaries. The tribute is then commonly published by a local newspaper to inform the community of the loss. Frequently, such a notice strives to give others a peek of the deceased’s life, detailing essential highlights.
Since an obituary can serve as a written eulogy, many feel it crucial to capture their loved one’s essence in their tribute. They may also think it necessary to express their sadness or thankfulness for the time they had together with the deceased.
Considering their heartfelt content, obituaries typically make for emotional reading. A quality obituary can even give readers an insight into someone’s life and their character – even if the person had been a stranger.
An obituary focuses on the positive aspects of a person’s life, like a glowing review. Keeping that in mind, June’s obituary stood out when it appeared in the “Cherokee Scout.” And it wasn’t because the tribute was exceptionally kind, quite the opposite.
June’s son was left distraught after reading the snarky newspaper announcement. When he spoke with News Channel 9, Robert Jr. expressed his frustration with the obituary, saying, “The whole thing is just sad.” Robert Jr. speculated that the terrible tribute was written by a sister, though they denied writing it.
News Channel 9 reported that Robert Jr. fully believed his siblings wrote the notice and was saddened by the idea that they “didn’t have anything better to do.” The obituary begins with June’s full name, hometown, birthday, and date she died, February 23, 2017. The accurate date was strange as the announcement only appeared in the June issue of the “Cherokee Scout.”
After a typical intro, June’s obituary detailed the circumstances surrounding her death and claimed that she lost a lifelong battle with depression and drugs. After that, Murphy was mentioned as her “summer home.”
Next was June’s family situation, with her three kids, Robert Jr., Marilyn, and Suzanne, all mentioned. The presumably touching following line talked about how each of her kids has their own children, referencing the grandchildren as symbols of a successful life.
From there, the obituary took an abrupt turn. The notice hinted that June hadn’t found happiness in her family. A savage line seemed to suggest that June, herself, hadn’t appreciated the opportunities she had been given.
The harsh tone escalated from there. One line claimed that June had “made no contribution to society and [had] rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life.” The notice alleged of the late woman, “Drugs were a major love in her life, as June had no hobbies.”
The obituary’s author stated that June’s life should teach others how not to behave. Alluding to the matriarch’s character, the notice continued, “Addiction and hatred are no es bueno for the living.” And things didn’t end there.
The notice claimed that June’s family wasn’t affected by her passing. One extract reads, “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 did admit that June would be occasionally thought about, despite the negative portrayal. The tribute continued, “Her family will remember June. And among ourselves, we will remember her in our own way, which [include] mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years.”
The notice went on to graze over the idea of fond memories with June as if an afterthought. It focused on the belief that the family will miss what they “never” had in the first place, claiming she wasn’t a present mom, grandma, or great-grandma.
The notice claimed that the family would be positively affected by June’s death. It despairingly states that for her family, this time is one of hope for future healing and a chance to be a family once again. The tribute suggested that the family wouldn’t meet to honor her.
The conclusion claims, “There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family [June] 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. So, we say here for all of us, ‘Goodbye, Mom.’”
After its appearance in the “Cherokee Scout,” the obituary divided opinions among readers. News 13 reporter Stephanie Santostasi also shared a picture of June’s obituary on Twitter, where she sought her followers’ thoughts.
People were alarmed by the harsh nature of June’s obituary, which prompted one Twitter user to tweet, “Even if true, it’s so wrong, unkind [and] just plain mean. I don’t believe it. RIP, June.” Another person simply responded, “How freaking sad.”
Others seemed to empathize with the author, stating that though they didn’t know the deceased, it must’ve been cathartic for the person who wrote the notice. Someone else wrote, “I can think of a few people like this. Sometimes, people will not be missed. Sometimes, that’s okay.”
Cherokee Scout” publisher David Brown chose to defend the newspaper’s choice to print the tribute. Brown wouldn’t admit who the heartless author was. He did disclose that “the family’s will [had overridden] the editor” when it came to sharing the controversial piece.
Additionally, Brown revealed that while employees at the newspaper read each obituary before publishing, they only edited something if necessary. Meanwhile, to redress any damage created by the obituary, Robert Jr. shared that he was writing a new tribute to his mom for publication.
Robert Jr. wanted June to be remembered as a thoughtful and devoted person. June’s son did not want moments that his parents had experienced in Murphy to be tainted by the excruciating obituary, either. And, he may have wished that his new tribute would serve to correct things.
With a new notice for June in the works, it seemed that the Miller family’s troubles were over. But that’s when the plot thickened. It emerged that June’s tribute had been partially copied from a 2008 death notice in a northern Californian newspaper.
Robert Jr. refused to stray from his theory that one of his sisters was responsible. He vented to Channel 9 News, going on about how when he initially read the obituary, it didn’t sound like his sister and was even angrier that the awful obituary wasn’t even an original piece of hers.
The original obituary, appearing in Vallejo’s Times-Herald, honored Dolores Aguilar and caught editor Ted Vollmer’s attention. He had edited and written thousands of announcements at that point and was taken aback by this particular one.
The two obituaries contained matching content: the bulk of both reading precisely the same. It appeared that excerpts of June’s obituary had been copied from the earlier noticed and pasted wholesale. But the question of who was the author still remained.
Before the tribute hitting the presses, Ted had demanded confirmation that it had actually come from Dolores’ family. The editor asked Dolores’ family for a copy of the death certificate or some other proof. Eventually, one of Dolores’ six daughters was later able to authenticate the notice.
It’s unclear if June’s obituary passed a similar authentication process at the “Cherokee Scout.” When staff knew that the tribute had been plagiarized, they met before deciding to take the controversial obituary off the internet.
As had been the situation with June’s obituary, one of Dolores’ relatives had also felt that the announcement was too cruel. Ted, therefore, allowed Dolores’ granddaughter to publish a new tribute – revealing how different Dolores actually was then how she was portrayed in the first obituary.
The “Cherokee Scout” offered a similar solution and published Robert Jr.’s tribute to his mother free of charge. News Channel 9 later shared that his obituary depicted June in her roles as an attentive mom, housewife, and baker.
June and Dolores’ obituaries aren’t the only ones to have gained national attention for their cruelty. A man from Iowa died in March 2019, and the hurtful words written about him went viral. And you’ll be surprised to learn who wrote them, too.
Pam Kopriva-Barnes wanted to share what her brother, Tim Schrandt, was actually like while he was alive in his obituary. While it appeared that Kopriva-Barnes’ brother was known for his sharp tongue, her tribute to her sibling gave Schrandt a run for his money.
An obituary is primarily a piece of writing that documents the passing of a person. This announcement may contain details of the deceased’s successes or may simply outline funeral arrangements. Traditionally, obituaries were published in newspapers with the length corresponding to a person’s importance.
In the past, newspaper reporters would probe and develop obituaries themselves. However, it has become more common for families to pen their own obituaries for lost loved ones. Their vulnerable words are usually distributed either in print or – as is becoming the case more often – online.
Often a tribute will acknowledge someone’s death, express hurt for their passing, and celebrate the happiness that person created during their lifetime. The obituary may also detail the achievements of the deceased, both personally and professionally.
Obituaries are often considered someone’s legacy – an artifact that people will revisit to gauge the deceased’s life. As a result, now people prefer to write their own tributes. That way, they get the ultimate final say.
Someone who was given the questionable honor of seeing his obituary before he died was Alfred Nobel. When the dynamite inventor’s brother passed away in 1888, the press unintentionally published notices erroneously proclaiming Nobel’s death. In a particularly hateful report, the Swedish chemist was depicted as a “merchant of death.”
Nobel was unsettled to realize that he would be remembered for losing his life to one of his inventions. As a result, he created the Nobel Prizes – awards to honor actions that had been of “the greatest benefit to mankind.”
By making his name positive, Nobel was able to alter his legacy. And maybe more of us would reconsider our lives if we considered the lasting impact they may have after we’ve died. After all, no one would want to be the subject of a brutal obituary.
Tim Schrandt indeed received an obituary that strayed from ordinary. After a cancer diagnosis, the resident of Spillville, Iowa had passed away in March 2019. As his sister Pam Kopriva-Barnes’ final tribute attests, while Schrandt may be gone, it will be a while before the colorful oddball is forgotten.
Schrandt was born in June 1955. He was the 4th out of eight kids to parents Bill and Mary. He attended St. Wenceslaus, a Catholic school in his hometown. After graduating from South Winneshiek High School, Schrandt was drafted into the Army.
After his military service, Schrandt spent more than three decades professionally making tools and dies. He married Crystal Hilmer and had two sons: Cody and Josh. After splitting from his boys’ mom, Schrandt had a 13-year relationship with Cheryl Murray.
Schrandt was a father, stepfather, grandfather, and step-grandfather in an already large clan that included siblings, nephews, nieces, and cousins. But despite the size of Schrandt’s family, it seems that the man considered himself a figurehead.
Naturally, those close to Schrandt painfully felt his untimely passing. Schrandt was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in March and tragically wouldn’t see April. Throughout his cancer battle, Schrandt had his family by his side.
Even as Schrandt’s illness worsened, his quirky personality shone through. For instance, he still wore his shirts largely unbuttoned in his signature style. He is also refused to stop smoking and continued to curse freely. Schrandt refused to let his cancer rob him of his character – something Kopriva-Barnes noticed.
One of Schrandt’s final evenings, Kopriva-Barnes was finding it difficult to fall asleep. She sat down and began writing an obituary for her brother that aimed to capture Schrandt’s casual attitude and tendency towards crankiness. And the result was absolutely hilarious.
Kopriva-Barnes started the tribute with, “Tim Schrandt made his last inappropriate comment on March 29, 2019. If you are wondering if you may have ever met him, you didn’t – because you WOULD remember. For those of you that did meet him,” she added, “We apologize, as we’re sure he probably offended you.”
Kopriva-Barnes continued by saying Schrandt was “world-renowned for not holding back and telling it like it is.” She provided examples of her brother’s devil-may-care attitude. One memorable moment was when he argued with one of the nuns at St. Wenceslaus.
About the story in the obituary, Kopriva-Barnes shared that he had gotten into a fistfight with one of the nuns. And she defended her brother, saying that it was unfair to start something with Schrandt and not expect a reaction. From the sister’s view of her sibling, it seemed that a disregard for the rules was a common thread in Schrandt’s life.
Kopriva-Barnes later said, “Tim’s fondness for authority – his own, not others – followed him to South Winneshiek High School in Calmar and later into the Army. This provided for many interesting episodes and stories, detentions and demotions, and a few ‘run-ins’ with the law – not just locally, but globally.”
Though Schrandt had settled into establishing himself professionally, he didn’t like some of his coworkers. His tribute used “morons” to describe such people, Kopriva-Barnes crediting the adjective to Schrandt himself.
Schrandt was an unconventional character that his sister took to listing odd objects of his that the family would have to get rid of, such as a Virgin Mary bathtub shrine, urging those interested in contacting her.
Kopriva-Barnes’ tribute to her brother offered heartfelt humor. Kopriva-Barnes remembered how her brother had appointed himself “king” of his siblings – including her. She wrote about how he spent his early years generally ordering them around.
Schrandt’s obituary went on to pay tribute to his sons. His sister added, “He will be missed by his two granddaughters that he adored and taught to cuss.” There was regret, too, that the extended family wouldn’t have “any new material” after “great orator” Schrandt was gone.
“Many [relatives] wanted to hang out near him because you just knew he was going to say or do something good. It’s not that he was such a great storyteller; it’s that he WAS the story,” the obituary read. Kopriva-Barnes promised that his legacy would stay with those he left behind.
The obituary included a hilariously heartfelt line naming Schrandt’s family members who preceded him in death, including an infant daughter, his own father, and his brother, among others. Then his sister adds that since Schrandt “was in charge of getting the beer and ice for our family reunion,” everyone was eager to see him.
Concluding her tribute, Kopriva-Barnes confirmed that Schrandt would be remembered as a compulsive rebel. “In Tim’s case, he never met a rule he couldn’t break, a boundary he couldn’t push, a line he couldn’t cross, and a story he couldn’t stretch,” she wrote.
Despite Schrandt’s tough exterior and overall stubbornness, the loving tribute said that he was genuinely a generous and thoughtful person. Kopriva-Barnes confirmed this by writing how deeply painful this was for his family members.
Speaking of Schrandt’s final week, Kopriva-Barnes added, “Tim led a good life and had a peaceful death – but the transition was a bitch. And for the record, he did not lose his battle with cancer. When he died, the cancer died. So, technically, it was a tie! He was ready to meet his maker; we’re just not sure ‘The Maker’ is ready to meet Tim.”
The obituary came to an end with Schrandt’s favorite topic: booze. Kopriva-Barnes jumped at the chance for one last joke, calling on people to donate money to a local brewery since they were due to lose a lot of money without Schrandt buying from them.
While the obituary was odd, it summed up Schrandt perfectly. In April 2019, Kopriva-Barnes told City Pages that sending her brother off with a traditional tribute would have been likened to “burying him in a suit.” This was a no-go.
Instead, Schrandt was in St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church’s graveyard wearing his usual “western shirt” and jeans. While his family kept his shirt fully buttoned due to procedural scars, they did still bury him with some Old Style beer for the road.
Kopriva-Barnes revealed that she’d been developing Schrandt’s obituary at the exact moment he died. She had been so into her writing that she failed to see a text telling her that her brother passed. The whole writing process was incredibly therapeutic for her, as a dump for her feelings.
Before writing her brother’s tribute, Kopriva-Barnes had often read obituaries – although she had been largely unimpressed by how boring they were. This might offer an explanation why Schrandt’s obituary has proved so popular.
Since Kopriva-Barnes’ tribute to her brother appeared on the Schluter-Balik Funeral Home website in March 2019, they have become a viral sensation. The obituary has attracted considerable acclaim, being described as “possibly the best obituary ever written.” On the flip side, Schrandt was labeled “the orneriest man in Iowa” by the Des Moines Register.
Additionally, the guestbook for Schrandt on the Schluter-Balik Funeral Home website has subsequently received thousands of comments from around the world, getting responses from as far as Australia.
One entry, clearly written by one of Schrandt’s friends, basically backed up all of his sister’s claims about him. Both describe him as a free spirit who was larger than life and danced to the beat of his own drum. He was clearly a memorable and dearly loved guy!
Thanks to Kopriva-Barnes’ humorous account, Schrandt leaped off the page. One reader connected to Schrandt’s personality, as depicted by his sister, and even claimed to have loved him had they met in real life.
Referencing Schrandt, another person talked about the people who knew him in real life who were so lucky to know him. He went onto to wish for himself that he would eventually have a memorable obituary like Schrandt’s when he dies.
Schrandt has continued motivating others, including people going through hardships. A comment came from someone who loved Tim’s boldness and took his obituary as inspiration also to live life like that. He also went on to joke how exciting it must be now that Schrandt is joining the party.
Schrandt unapologetically lived life on his terms. Thanks to his sister’s touching tribute, his attitude had made him a viral sensation. This turn of events Kopriva-Barnes found ironic since her brother had thought that social media was an epic waste of time.