Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, Globe and Mail obituary writers win Grimmies

Globe and Mail columnist Tom Hawthorn won a “Grimmie” at last weekend’s Society of Professional Obituary Writers conference in Toronto for Best Body of Work in 2011, while the Boston Globe’s Bryan Marquard was honored for the obituaries he wrote in 2012. (Links to the award-winning obits.)


Kim Janssen of the Chicago Sun-Times received the Best Obit of 2012 award for his piece on Delfino ‘Don Vale’ Mora, a father of 12 who was murdered by thugs who posted a video of their attack on Facebook.

The obit writers group’s press release is after the jump.

Press release


June 11, 2013

TORONTO – The Society of Professional Obituary Writers (SPOW) has concluded a successful conference in Toronto and awarded its prizes for Outstanding Obits and Body of Work for the years 2011 and 2012.

Two dozen fulltime, part-time and freelance obituary writers gathered June 7-9 in the Canadian city to listen to speakers, swap stories, hear the latest news and trends and generally strengthen their craft.

The theme of the fourth SPOW conference was “Telling the Truth.” Often, obit writers are hobbled by uncooperative family and loved ones, or by sensitive post-mortem issues, such as a subject’s sexuality, past indiscretions or suicide.

Writers heard how to avoid these and other potential pitfalls. Telling the truth means getting it right.

Speakers included Toronto Star writer Catherine Porter, who led a team of 14 reporters to assemble a one-of-a-kind 4,000-word obituary on Shelagh Gordon, an “ordinary Jane”; SPOW president Andrew Meacham, feature obituary writer for the Tampa Bay Times; Sandra Martin, obituary writer for the Toronto-based Globe and Mail and author of Working the Dead Beat: 50 Lives That Changed Canada; and obituarist Jade Walker of The Blog of Death.

The award for Best Obit of 2011 was awarded to Tom Hawthorn of Victoria, British Columbia for his obit on Frank Howard, published in the Globe and Mail. It was one of five obits representing Hawthorn’s SPOW Award-winning Body of Work for 2011.

The obituary on Rev. John Crocker Jr. was one of five obits published in the Boston Globe in 2012 representing writer Bryan Marquard’s SPOW Award-winning Body of Work for 2012.

The outstanding obit for 2012 was on Delfino Mora, a.k.a. Don Vale, published in the Chicago Sun-Times and written by Kim Janssen.