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Writing obituary features for the paper

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:27 PM

Yesterday, I was tapped to write what might be termed an “obituary feature” story for the paper, an article about Sue Reardon, a longtime Sandusky Library employee with a strong interest in history and the arts.

It’s the kind of story every reporter at the paper has to take turns writing, an article about the death of a prominent local person. Those kinds of stories are one of my least favorite assignments, because I always worry that something I write will hurt or offend the family. I tried to do my best, and I hope Reardon’s family and friends liked the article.

In January 2005, only a few weeks after I started working for this paper, I wrote a story about a local businessman named Jeffery “Jeff” Manuella, 50, who had died after a long battle with cancer.

Manuella, a successful businessman who had founded Pizza Brothers and Manny’s Bar and Grill, had also been known for raising money for charity.

And he also had a great sense of humor. When I did the interviews, his friends and relatives would come to the phone, crying, and then tell me funny stories. (For example, Manuella had founded a charity golf tournament to help a friend badly injured in an accident. One of the prizes was a side of beef, so Manuella’s mother-in-law brought a cow to the golf course to inspire the players. The cow was mooing as the players tried to putt.)

Obviously, I didn’t want to write a flippant story about a tragic event, and I hope the funny stories I included in the piece were seen as a way to illustrate Manuella’s personality.

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