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Dead man talking: The best obituary endorsements

coffin bunting obituaries krieg mullery illustration

Story highlights

  • The departed can't vote, but they can make their candidate preferences clear
  • Across the country, obituaries tell not only about someone's life, but their politics, too

(CNN)Jeffery Cohen is gone -- but his opinion of Donald Trump is alive and thriving.

The Pennsylvania chiropractor, who died on Sunday at age 70, has been the subject of hundreds of news stories and thousands of social media posts over the past few days, as Americans grapple with his final request.
    "Jeffrey would ask that in lieu of flowers, please do not vote for Donald Trump," family members wrote in his obituary, which ran Wednesday through Friday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
    The coffin has long doubled as a pulpit, with candidates speculating on the erstwhile electoral preferences of departed dignitaries. Today, though, the deceased are becoming more adept at leaving their mark on the political scene.
    Here are a few neat examples of activist obituary writing, at home and abroad, over the last few years -- and now, with a special intensity as the current election cycle spins inexorably toward Iowa.

    Run it on the day a candidate -- like Hillary Clinton! -- enters the race

    Hillary Clinton formally entered the Democratic primary contest on April 12, 2015. The next day, both Betty Jo Lewis, a 79-year-old "political junkie," and Larry Upright, 81, departed -- but not without getting a word in on the way out.
    "The family respectfully asks that you do not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016," Upright's kin wrote in his obituary. "R.I.P. Grandaddy."
    The Lewis family also made a humble request, but for a different cause.
    "Please vote for Hillary Clinton," they pleaded on her behalf. "Betty would really appreciate it, as she is surely disappointed she won't get the chance to do so."

    Have the candidate tweet out the whole thing

    Guess who.
    When Ernest Overbey succumbed to cancer on January 2, his 65 years -- the golf, the Redskins, the gratitude to his doctors and nurses -- were boiled down to 326 words. But it was the final five, a call to "please vote for Donald Trump," that gained national attention.
    A week after his death, Overbey's obit was reproduced in full, in a tweet from the GOP frontrunner, who has nearly 6 million followers.
    "Thank you so much," Trump wrote. "Earnest must have been a great person."

    Use it as an opportunity to do some fundraising

    Running for president is an expensive business. In the 2016 cycle, campaigns and outside groups have spent more than $100 million dollars on advertising, outreach and field work -- all well before the first round of primary contests. But it costs money to raise money (ask Ben Carson), so a free pitch is always a boost.
    Nancy Dearr, who died on August 26, was no stranger to presidential politics. She met her husband, Ryan, working on George McGovern's 1972 campaign.
    "In lieu of flowers," the author of her obituary wrote, "donations may be made to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign."

    Be funny -- in life or death

    Elaine Fydrych knew how to entertain a crowd. She began a long career in show business as a child actor in the 1950s and performed in a standup comedy competition as recently as 2008.
    Fydrych, who died August 13, is quoted in the final line of the final account of her life, with one last request. "In lieu of flowers," she said, "please do not vote for Hillary Clinton."
    And the people listened. Throughout the more than 88 pages of her online guestbook, there are dozens of promises to fulfill her wishes.
    "Request honored," wrote one of the undersigned.
    Richard Buckman's last dispatch was more straightforward, a brief listing of those he left behind, stuck with a droll finale.
    "In lieu of flowers, please do not vote for Hillary," it reads, followed by a note on cremation arrangements.

    Use your everlasting regret to shake up other people's future choices

    During her 84 years, Charlotte Tidwell McCourt gave the world five children, 20 grandkids and 65 great-grandchildren. She was, however, less proud of once giving her vote to Sen. Harry Reid, who was up for reelection at the time of her death in 2010.
    "We believe that Mom would say she was mortified to have taken a large role in the election of Harry Reid to U.S. Congress. Let the record show Charlotte was displeased with his work," McCourt's family wrote in her obituary. "Please, in lieu of flowers, vote for another more worthy candidate."

    Don't hold back -- and the rest will take care of itself

    Mary Catherine Finn, 72, died on July 19. Possessed of a "sharp wit and steely backbone," the Ontario, Canada, native was not a fan of then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Conservative.
    A point her beloved family made clear in this touching tribute.
    "In lieu of donations," they write, "Catherine would want you to do everything you can to drive Stephen Harper from office, right out of the country, and into the deep blue sea if possible. Also, she would like you to fix the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)."
    Finn would likely be glad to know her fellow Canadians voted in a new leader, the Liberal Party's Justin Trudeau, precisely three months after her death.