My name is Russell Blatt—Russ. I have become what you would call an amateur necrologist (one who makes lists of people who have died). I became interested in death several years ago when studying for a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Many aspects of death and dying fascinated me, including how different cultures around the world deal with issues related to death.
This web site started as a lark. I was and still am a regular visitor to the Celebrity Obituaries message board (currently at voyforums). Here members would post recent obituaries and others would reply with their personal memories, pictures, arguments, etc. related to the deceased. In early 2002, one regular poster suggested that someone should post a summary listing of obituaries for the week. I accepted that challenge. Every Saturday night, I would make a list with a little blurb, and post it to the message board along with the pictures people had posted during the week.
After several weeks, board members were noting that they often missed the “Week in Review’’ postings that had fallen into the message board archives. Being a novice at web page design and HTML, I decided to get my feet wet by transferring the Week in Review postings over to a web page at a free web host. Those early entries were primitive, and again were intended only to serve as the message board’s weekly summary. But over time and with many suggestions, it went through several revisions and now has taken on a life form of its own. Since debuting the site in May 2002, I’ve discovered a whole “necrology’’ community out there that I never knew existed.
While the structure of the site was quite accidental in conception, the impact it has had is much more than what was originally conceived. To see that group of faces—the young and old, men and women, the black, the white, the Latino, and the Asian, the sinners and the saints—all of whom have died recently and each leaving a legacy of some kind. This has the potential to pack quite the emotional punch, to rock our own sense of mortality and to put our everyday lives into perspective.
Since starting this site, my views on death and aging have completely changed. In US culture and many other cultures in the West, the aged tend to be devalued by the media and society—they are in the way and a drain on society. Death (and one’s own mortality) is looked upon as something unpleasant (and even unnatural) that we just don’t want to think much about. Since starting this site, I have become fascinated with the lives of my own parents in a way I couldn’t have imagined before. There was a time when my mother wasn’t old and sick—she was a beautiful young woman with the world at her feet. Today when I see older folks, I try to imagine how they were in their youth and what stories they have to tell. I wonder what I’ll be like at that age and what legacy I’ll leave behind. We are them and they are us.
Death is still a mystery to me, but I fear it less than I did. After all, just look at the number of famous folks that pass away each week. This just illustrates even more that death is just a natural part of the cycle of life.
Why do I do this site? Well, I'm not a journalist (which is probably apparent). I run this site as a labor of love. I enjoy learning about the interesting lives of the people who’ve gone before me and the legacies they have left behind. The Medal of Honor recipients, the researchers, the inventors, the activists, the women and minorities who were “first’’ to do something we take for granted today, the crusading anonymous citizens, the innovators, the characters and legends, and the young folks who were on their way to being notorious. I have a ball learning about these people and honoring their legacies.Helpful Hints for Using this Site
A lot of people have asked how entries are added to Life In Legacy. First, let me say people are added to the current week if their death was reported during that week, and if they died within the last month or so. New entries are rarely added to an archive page, but are on occasion. When that is done, an entry is made in the “Recently Added Pictures’’ section on the “Most Wanted Pictures’’ page. For example, Erin Fleming, Groucho’s last girlfriend, died in April 2003, but her death wasn’t reported to the media until September 2003. She was added to the April 19th page, with an entry in the “Recently Added Pictures.’’
When adding pictures to the current week:
Who gets included:
I appreciate help in any form. Maintaining the site, while fun and rewarding, can be both time consuming and financially draining. I'll take help in any of the following areas:
While not a technical person, so to speak, I like to know what problems people are having and what works to correct them. I can post those solutions here.
There are problems inherent in any site that displays so many pictures on one page. You need a lot of both bandwidth and cache memory to load these pictures and display these pages, and many slower internet connections and older PCs struggle with this.
Here are some of the problems I’ve encountered myself or have been reported by others, and what has been done/suggested to fix them: