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500 obits in 59 days

Let's pause here for a big whew! It's the first of March and we have published about 500 staff-written obits since the first of the year.

Unlike most major daily newspapers, we write about everyone who's lived in the Washington area for more than 20 years (as long as their family will answer all our questions) as well as those whose accomplishments deserve national and international note. Hence, a homemaker and a church volunteer shares space with a foreign service officer and lawyer in the Washington Post's obit columns. The philosophy behind this is that everyone's important to the fabric of the community.

As you might imagine, it's quite a task to handle these as well as doing a credible job on our signature Local Life feature every Sunday and prepare the longer obits for public figures and famous, or infamous, personalities. We have a staff of three full-time writers, an editor who also writes, and a revolving series of young, ambitious and talented part-timers who help out several days each week. Occasionally we call upon the expertise of the rest of the Washington Post staff.

We've mentioned in this blog before the seasonal rise and fall in the volume of work we do. January and February are almost always busy times -- people tend to die during periods of extreme weather -- and as we ease into spring, the number of requests for obits falls off, although not by too much. It's another reason to root for an early spring.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  March 1, 2010; 11:53 AM ET
Categories:  Washington DC-area people  
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Next: Reds Wolman, Johns Hopkins geography prof, dies at 85


Kudos, Ms. Sullivan, to you and your colleagues for your superb work!

Posted by: zhurnaly | March 1, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

A word of appreciation. I read them. We oldsters tend to read them very carefully. Everyone has a story, and it can't be easy to distill them into a brief obit.

Posted by: OldLady1 | March 2, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

You and your colleagues do wonderful work and provide an important service to the greater DC region. As a regular obit and blog reader (and as a youngster), a big thank you.

Posted by: josh18 | March 3, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

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