Frances Irene Finley Williams died November 21 at age 87 and her family blames President Donald Trump for hastening her demise.
This story is only now receiving attention because the woman’s 66-year-old son, Art Williams, demanded and received an apology from the Louisville Courier-Journal, the local paper that ran her obituary.
Based on a longstanding obituary policy about not including anything negative, the newspaper refused to publish a line that read, “Her passing was hastened by her continued frustration with the Trump administration.”
In a January Facebook post (that appears to have been deleted), Williams let the newspaper have it. Since then, the story has been picked up by the far-left Washington Post, something called Newsweek, and the Courier-Journal ran an editorial admonishing itself.
According to the family, six months before her death, Frances said, “If I die soon, all this Trump stuff has had an effect.” According to the Courier-Journal, she died after her heart and lungs gave out.
What’s interesting about the story, though, is that Frances apparently did not request that this line be added to her obituary. This was something she shared in private. Blaming Trump for shortening her life was something the family wanted to include.
“Art Williams said his mother would have appreciated the line,” the newspaper reports.
Would she have?
According to the rest of the obituary, which ran without the Trump line, Frances sounds like a woman who had an enormous amount of pride and dignity — a church-going woman with strong beliefs who did not want anyone attending her funeral wearing “blue jeans, shorts, flip flops or tennis shoes.”
Does that sound like the kind of woman who would want the whole world to know Trump had dug so deep under her skin he was able to “hasten” her death?
Overall, I agree that the line should have been included in the obituary. Sure, it would be unfortunate to see this too become politicized, but it should not be up to newspapers to decide what is and is not negative, what is and is not political. The family’s wishes should have been respected.
But going back to my original point, speaking for the dead, even if it is your own mother, is a very tricky thing.
Even if it was true, there is no way in hell I would want the world to know that something like the outcome of an election had so unnerved me, it “hastened my passing.”
Read the obituary. Frances Irene Finley Williams sounds like a fine woman, the exact opposite of a neurotic. But now the only thing anyone will remember about her is this.
We’re all human. We all have our own weaknesses. But an obituary should focus on the deceased’s strengths, virtues, and the important moments of his or her life.