September 18-- The Savannah Morning News reports the story behind an obituary which has gone viral.
'He hated vegetables and hypocrites'
William “Freddie” McCullough was never one to conform to expectations. Neither did his obituary.
“Freddie loved deep fried Southern food covered in Cane Syrup, fishing at Santee Cooper Lake, Little Debbie Cakes, Two and a Half Men, beautiful women, Reese’s Cups and Jim Beam,” the obituary reads. “Not necessarily in that order.”
Son Mark McCullough wrote the death notice that first appeared in the Savannah Morning News and on savannahnow.com on Saturday. By Monday it had gone viral with more than 150,000 views, as of 6 p.m., on savannahnow.com and multiple re-postings around the Internet.
A filmmaker, writer, director and producer, the younger McCullough prepared himself to write about his dad by reading 50 or so obituaries, most of them listing schools attended, awards received and illnesses battled. They served as a lesson in what not to write.
“Our dad was a unique and special guy,” said McCullough, the oldest of Freddie’s six kids. “I wanted to do things differently to honor him with an obit that fit him.”
Judging by the responses — more than 200 comments from family, friends and strangers in the online guest book — he did just that.
“This is the best obituary I’ve ever read,” wrote Melinda McCullough Rushing, a cousin. “He is smiling down on this one.”
McCullough, who recently moved back to the Savannah area from Los Angeles, is executive producer for Fort Argyle Films. He’s developing a TV show based on his dad’s “life’s adventures,” but is dismissive of praise he’s received for writing about his father.
“I can’t take credit,” he said. “I just wrote down what happened.”
Like this passage:
“Freddie adored the ladies. And they adored him,” the obituary states. “There isn’t enough space here to list all of the women from Freddie’s past. There isn’t enough space in the Bloomingdale phone book … He attracted more women than a shoe sale at Macy’s. He got married when he was 18 but it didn’t last. Freddie was no quitter, however, so he gave it a shot two more times.”
At Freddie’s funeral on Thursday, his children tucked Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and a bottle of Jim Beam into his coffin. Then the six of them, clad in Harley T-shirts and jeans, hopped on motorcycles to lead the procession to the cemetery.
“All of us kids, we know our dad,” Mark McCullough said. “He was the kind of guy who would just get the biggest thrill out of this.”
Mark McCullough gave his five younger siblings veto power on the unconventional death notice. None felt the need to use it, leaving a portrait of a man who loved every minute of his 61 years.
Not that the obituary revealed his age. “He wouldn’t admit that,” said Mark, who tactfully left it out. Wanting to focus on his dad’s life, he also kept mum about how he died, though he did allow in a telephone interview that his dad had been ill for months.
“Freddie was killed when he rushed into a burning orphanage to save a group of adorable children,” he wrote in the obituary. “Or maybe not. We all know how he liked to tell stories.”