A good-bye and a reality check

by Skip

“Doris  Johnson, daughter of David and Elizabeth Abrahamson and formerly of Brockton and Gilford, NH, passed away at the age of 90 on October 31, 2012. She was born to Swedish immigrants in New Sweden, ME and moved with her family to the Campello (“Little Sweden”) section of Brockton, MA. A long time member of the Swedish Baptist Church (now, Trinity Baptist), she attended business school in Boston and worked in the shoe industry there. She met and married Richard Murphy of Boston with whom she bore three sons (the eldest passing shortly after birth) and assisted with his small businesses over the next two decades. Upon Richard’s untimely death, she continued to live in Brockton working as a single mom providing for her children. A few years later, she married Eldon Johnson, also of Brockton and a long time supervisor at Polaroid Corporation. Upon his retirement, they moved to Gilford, NH to be closer to her son Skip Murphy, his wife Debbie and their two sons Dan and Ian. During the last few years of her life after Eldon’s passing, she lived in Oklahoma City to be near her youngest son, Rick Murphy, his wife Susie and their son Preston; she was well cared for and loved during that time.

A private family burial service is planned for the family plot in Coweeset Cemetary in Brockton, MA. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund ( a 4 star Charity Navigator rating).”

A friend emailed me upon hearing of the news – I thanked him for reaching out and offered this in return:

Thanks – much appreciated.  She lived a long life – 90 years old so she had seen a lot of changes during her life.  Along that path, she taught me a few simple life lessons that have never failed me when I have listened to her voice in my head and  applied them correctly:

  • Always show up
  • Persistence pays off.  Perhaps not in the way you originally wanted, but there will be a reward nonetheless.
  • Stand up for yourself – I will for you, but there will come a time when you won’t want me to and then a time when I will be unable to.  So, learn to be self-responsible.
  • You will always be a parent.

 I am sure that as memories bubble up, there will be others, but these were the biggies.

The reality check was not one I really expected – and I lay it out here as I was taken by surprise by the Newspaper industry during this whole process:

I realize that the newspaper business has become a dying one in its present incarnation – for most papers of record, subscription revenues are down (former subscribers can find their news and opinions for free elsewhere), classified ad revenues are in the toilet (mostly due to CraigsList – why pay when you can get eyeballs for free?) and due to the first two, stock prices are in the dumper as well. There are other opinions I could offer here as well, but this is not that kind of post (today, anyways).

Ten years ago, the obit I wrote for my step-Dad was taken and printed (with a bit of editing on the papers’ part, which was fine).  “Just send it in” was the answer when asked about the publishing process.  This time, I wrote the above, thinking that while it might be longish, the papers would edit it to “their” proper length and then would print it  as a public notice or as service to the community.  Imagine my surprise at the realization that obits have now just become another form of a classified ad? For a single day of publication:

  • Laconia Citizen (Laconia, NH): $30
  • Laconia Daily Sun (Laconia, NH): $50
  • The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK): $104
  • The Brockton Enterprise (Brockton, MA): $206

I’ve been wondering why I see so few obits in the paper nowadays – now I’ve been updated as to why.  Not meant as a whacking – merely as an observation: who knew Mom was the equivalent of a used car ad?

Leave a Comment

  • Susan Olsen

    Skip, as usual, you are on point. The Dallas Morning News wanted nearly $1,000 to publish a photo of and obituary for my 94-year old father who passed away last Friday…instead, I think my brothers and sisters and I will donate to the Wounded Warriors Fund instead.

  • Tim from Nashua

    Speaking of good-byes and reality checks, Warren Rudman has died. Pro-abortion RINO a la Arlen Spector who touted giving us David Souter as a Supreme Court Justice. The reality check comes when he meets his maker.

  • I lost my father in September 2011, and I was surprised to find that we had to pay for the obits, given that the obits are one of the most-read sections in the newspaper (right up there with the comics, the high school sports news, and the letters to the editor.) We edited the obit down a little to stay below a certain word count, but we did pay up. (However, we did decide not to run the obit in the Chicago papers, even though that was one of his several hometowns.)


    Thanks for sharing Skip. Doris’ life-lessons are invaluable and the world would be a better place if everyone followed them. Sorry for your loss.

    And “Tim from Nashua:” Even I know not to sully a heartfelt post like this one by slogging through the gutter with political bickering. I pray for the family of Mr. Rudman just as I pray for the family of Mrs. Johnson. Happy Thanksgiving to you Sir.

  • Rep Greg Hill

    My father in law passed in 2008 and it still galls me that when we got the bill from the funeral home it included charges for obituaries that THEY picked in local papers. The Providence Journal was the worst at $1,000. New Bedford Standard Times $500 and the Monitor I think was in the $200 range( maybe less). That was the day I resolved never to give the Monitor anything else…..including an interview or a quote.

  • Rep Greg Hill

    Sorry for your loss Skip. I’m sure she was proud of what she produced.

  • An admirable woman and and inspiring piece.
    Our deepest sympathies to yourself, Deb, your kids, and yes, your brother.
    Meanwhile, we give thanks for te community of friends in NH, especially you and yours.

  • Van

    Sorry for your loss Skip. My 100% Swedish Great Grand Mother (also named married Johnson) and my 100% Swedish Grandmother (maiden name Johnson) both lived to their mid 90s. Perhaps our Conservative Swedish ancestors bailed on their native Sweden when they saw it going big time liberal about a 125 years ago.

  • Sam Adams

    Sorry for your loss Skip. We learn from our pass, we learn from our parents. This is where our roots are strengthened, and from where we plant our seeds. Most people get to go to a better place. Dan

  • KenEyring

    God Bless your Mother and her/your family Skip. So sorry for your loss.

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