Follow-Up to Another “Interesting” Obituary about Joseph Heller, Jr.

Last week I published an article at about Joe Heller’s obituary. It seems that his funeral and burial ceremony have now taken place and, as you might expect, both were a bit “unusual.”

According to the New York Times at

On Friday morning, Mr. Heller’s body, in a coffin draped with an American flag, was placed on the 1941 Mack fire truck he helped restore and taken to Centerbrook Cemetery to be buried next to his wife, Irene, who died in 2015, and whom he embarrassed daily “with his mouth and choice of clothing,” according to the obituary.

Family members followed the fire truck in Mr. Heller’s immaculately restored 1932 Plymouth roadster with, as per his request, a set of plastic testicles dangling from the rear bumper.

There’s more information available at:

Another “Interesting” Obituary

I have published a number of humorous or otherwise interesting obituaries in the past, simply because I enjoy reading them. Apparently, humorous obituaries are also enjoyed by many others. Two different newsletter readers have now sent me links to the same person’s obituary and I must say that I am sorry I never met the man. He sounds like “my kind of guy.”
Joseph Heller, Jr.
Joe Heller made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on September 8, 2019, signing off on a life, in his words, “generally well-lived and with few regrets.” When the doctors confronted his daughters with the news last week that “your father is a very sick man,” in unison they replied, “you have no idea.” God thankfully broke the mold after Joe was born…
Also, you will enjoy these words to describe his memorial service:
Joe despised formality and stuffiness and would really be ticked off if you showed up in a suit. Dress comfortably. The family encourages you to don the most inappropriate T-Shirt that you are comfortable being seen in public with as Joe often did.

Digitizing Canada’s Heritage is the Top Priority for Canada’s new Chief Librarian and Archivist

This should be good news for anyone researching Canadian ancestry but doesn’t live near the location(s) of those ancestors!

Canada’s new chief librarian and archivist says her profession’s biggest challenge remains meeting the digital demands of the next generation of library patrons, and that could mean collecting tweets and emails alongside those historical books, maps and photographs.

Leslie Weir, who took over as Library and Archivist of Canada on Friday, told CBC’s Ottawa Morning that in 2000, many were predicting the demise of libraries amid the increasing digitization of books and information. The technology never slowed, yet now, nearly two decades later, libraries are still around.

You can read more in an article in the CBC web site at:

This Man Facilitates Surprise Inheritances from Long-forgotten Relatives

This never happens to me but obviously it has happened to others. The stories all seem to be similar to the often-repeated stories of surprise inheritances from long-lost uncles. The true stories may not always involve uncles but surprises do happen.

James Chalmers is an “heir finder,” a genealogist who finds heirs who have unexpectedly inherited money or property. Chalmers has been employed for 12 years at State Trustees in the state of Victoria, Australia. The firm works with clients to create wills, documents providing the power of attorney, and related services.

Mr. Chalmers is something of a gene detective, scouring all manner of public and private records to deliver sums of money and inherited items to mostly unwitting next of kin. His extraordinary job sometimes makes millionaires (his record inheritance is about $3 million) and sometimes reunites families. Almost always, he uncovers secrets.

A Study of Immigrants from Russia to Baltimore

Roughly a century ago, scores of immigrants moved to Baltimore from a Russian village.

Howard Schwartz says he was never one for researching family history, but after his mother died six years ago, a pair of old photographs hanging on her wall piqued his curiosity. Who, he wondered, were those serious-looking, bearded men? The women in buttoned-up dresses, the girls with the braids, the boys in knee-length trousers?

Joseph M. (Joe) Lalley Jr., R.I.P.

Joe Lalley Jr

Joseph (Joe) M. Lalley Jr of Asheville, North Carolina passed away Friday night, August 2, 2019 at the age of 93. He had a long and productive life as a teacher and headmaster, as documented in his obituary at, he was better known in the genealogy community for the website he created at many years ago that charts the genealogy links between County Galway, Ireland and Wilmington, Delaware.

While Joe Lalley’s obituary may be found at, perhaps an even better memorial to his dedication and accomplishments may be found at his web site at:

My thanks to newsletter reader Mike Carroll for telling me the sad news.

The American Ancestry of Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Is Revealed by American Scholar

The following announcement was written by American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society:

Johnson is Related to at Least Ten U.S. Presidents and Many Notable U.S. Political Figures

August 1, 2019—Boston, MassachusettsAlexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the British Prime Minister, has Turkish, Jewish, noble German, and much English ancestry. However, the extensive American ancestry of the newly-elected head of the U.K. government is much less known.

Gary Boyd Roberts, Senior Research Scholar Emeritus at American Ancestors, also known as New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), has studied the American forebears and notable kin of Johnson and published his recent findings on

The new Prime Minister has family relationships with ten U.S. Presidents: Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush—and to many political, industrial, and cultural icons in America’s history.

Thomas Mulligan’s Humorous Obituary

“Thomas (Tomm) WJ Mulligan of Nashua [New Hampshire] has passed away at home in his recliner as he had threatened to for years.

“He was a kid from Brooklyn who grew up to live the American Dream of marriage, a career, a house in the suburbs and two pain in the ass kids. He attended Bishop Ford High School.

“He was a DIYer with no less than five unfinished projects at any time.”

New UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is Related to Queen Elizabeth

I am not sure if this qualifies as “news” or not as most everyone with western European ancestry is related to almost every member of every royal family. However, the connection between Britain’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Her Majesty was recently documented.

The BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? programme discovered in 2008 that Mr Johnson’s paternal grandmother Yvonne Eileen Irene Williams (nicknamed ‘Granny Butter) whose family name was de Pfeffel, was a descendent of Prince Paul Von Wurttemberg.

Yvonne’s great grandparents were Baron Charles de Pfeffel and Karoline von Rottenburg. Karoline was the illegitimate daughter of Prince Paul von Wurttermberg and an actress named Friederike Margrethe Porth. In turn, Prince Paul was a great-great grandson of King George II, who reigned from 1727 until 1760.

Anne Leishman Merrell is the Winner of the APG Young Professional Scholarship

The following announcement was written by the Association of Professional Genealogists:

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo., 17 July 2019—Today the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG®) announced Anne Leishman Merrell of McLean, Virginia, as the winner of the 2019 APG Young Professional Scholarship.

The APG Young Professional Scholarship is awarded to a student or young professional between the ages of 18 and 29 who aspires to a professional career in genealogy. The scholarship includes registration for the APG Professional Management Conference (PMC) and a stipend to defray costs of travel and lodging at the conference.

Merrell holds a B.A. in Family History and Genealogy from Brigham Young University (BYU). She is a volunteer at her local Family History Center, where she teaches a family history course for youth. She is the producer of the Family History for Youth podcast, aimed at adults looking to get kids and teens involved, and was recently hired as the web content editor for the North Carolina Genealogy Society. She has been the director for BYU’s Family History Youth Camp, has been a staff genealogist for the Daughters of the American Revolution, and is a winner of the Young Family Historian Award from the BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy.

David Mishkin, R.I.P.

It is with sadness that I learned of David Mishkin’s passing yesterday. David was well-known within the genealogy community as the owner of “Just Black and White” in South Portland, Maine.

Until his retirement in 2005, David specialized in restoring old photographs. He worked primarily with old family photographs. He worked exclusively with black and white film, processing, printing and restoring older photographs using traditional darkroom techniques, not digital photo editing.

He often gave lectures to genealogical groups and historical societies across the country. I was fortunate enough to hear David speak several times and I learned a lot from him as a result. I am sure many others benefited from his charming and witty presentations as well.

Minister Rodriguez Announces Appointment of Leslie Weir to Library and Archives Canada

The following announcement was written by Library and Archives Canada:

As the new Librarian and Archivist of Canada, and the first woman to take this role, Leslie Weir will help to acquire, preserve and encourage access to documents that tell our collective history.

Leslie Weir

GATINEAU, QC, May 27, 2019 The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, announced today the appointment of Ms. Leslie Weir as Librarian and Archivist of Canada for a term of four-year term, effective August 30, 2019. Ms. Weir will be the first woman to become Librarian and Archivist of Canada since the merging of these two institutions.

Ms. Weir was the university librarian at the University of Ottawa from 2003 to 2018. Prior to her tenure at the university, she held positions at the National Library of Canada and the Statistics Canada Library.

Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood left out of Who Do You Think You Are? because his Family History is “Too Complex”

Ronnie Wood is an English rock musician, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, artist, author and radio personality best known as a member of The Rolling Stones since 1975. He was scheduled to be a celebrity guest on the U.K. version of Who Do You Think You Are? The show’s professional genealogists researched his ancestry and found a lot of information about his ancestors. There was but one problem,: they found too much information to fit into a one-hour program!

It seems that Ronald Wood has a huge family tree made up of gypsies, most of whom lived on canal barges.

A representative of Who Do You Think You Are? stated, “With Ronnie’s colourful relatives – who can be traced back over 300 years – there was too much to be able to work through in time for this year’s series.”

Struggling Care Worker Becomes Lord of $60 Million English Estate After DNA Test Proves He’s an Heir

Did you ever wish to inherit a fortune from a rich uncle who had recently passed away? That happened to Jordan Adlard-Rogers. He received a roughly $60 million inheritance from an uncle that previously Adlard-Rogers was not certain was his relative.

Adlard-Rogers — who reportedly grew up in a council house and suffered long periods of financial hardship — has now quit his job and moved into the estate. The 1,536-acre Penrose Estate is said to be where King Arthur was mortally wounded and died.

You can read a lot more in an article by Phil Boucher in the People web site at:

NGS Awards Excellence in Genealogy Scholarship and Service

The following announcement was written by the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

At our annual banquet on Friday evening on 10 May at the 2019 Family History Conference in St. Charles, Missouri, NGS presented awards that acknowledge and honor genealogical scholarship and service. The banquet speaker, David E. Rencher, AG, CG®, FIGRS, FUGA, spoke about the precarious future of tombstones in his presentation, “If Carved in Stone, Your Epitaph is Already Disappearing!” Awards Committee chair Janet L. Bailey opened the awards portion of the banquet.

Each year, NGS presents awards to organizations and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to NGS programs or have done outstanding work in the field of genealogy, history, biography, or heraldry.

National Genealogy Hall of Fame

BCG Names First Recipients of the Donn Devine Award

The following announcement was written by the Board for Certification of Genealogists:

The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has announced the first three recipients of the Donn Devine Award for Extraordinary Service. The award, established in honor of longtime BCG trustee Donn Devine, recognizes those who have made important and lasting contributions to the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

Named at a luncheon held in St. Charles, Missouri, as the first recipients, were:

Donn Devine, R.I.P.

It is with sadness that I report that BG (Ret) Donn Devine, CG, CGI, passed away on 5 May 2019. Donn was a certified genealogist, a practicing attorney, a public official, a Brigadier General in the Delaware Army National Guard (retired) and a Fellow of the National Genealogical Society.

I don’t have many details of his passing but found that some of his many lifetime accomplishments are summarized at: You can read still more about his various accomplishments by starting at:

UPDATE: You can learn more about Donn Devine’s life at

American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society Present Lifetime Achievement Award to Dan Rather

The following announcement was written by the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

Related to Mitt Romney, John Kerry, and Patrick Swayze

May 3, 2019—Boston, Massachusetts—At its annual Family History Benefit Dinner
recently, American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society
(NEHGS) honored broadcast journalist Dan Rather, an individual it lauded as “a living
legend—one of the most extraordinary communicators of our time.”

D. Brenton Simons, President and CEO of NEHGS, presented Rather with the
organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in broadcast journalism, citing Rather’s
career role as “an integral part of our national conversation.” And, following the
tradition of NEHGS at its annual benefit gala, Simons presented Rather with a detailed
genealogy, expertly researched by NEHGS staff, revealing the legendary television
anchor’s ancestry rooted in early America—and a notable kinship with U.S. presidents
and political figures.

Press Release: The Genealogy Squad Facebook Group Announced

The following announcement was written by George G. Morgan and the other people listed below:

Tampa, Florida – 1 May 2019 – A new Facebook group for genealogy, The Genealogy Squad, is being launched at on Monday, 6 May 2019. The mission of the Genealogy Squad Facebook group is to provide a positive space for the sharing of appropriate and reliable methods and resources to assist genealogists at all levels in their research activities. The principals and administrators are:

Press Release: Association of Professional Genealogists Selects Judy Nimer Muhn as Coordinator for 2020 Professional Management Conference

The following was written by the Association of Professional Genealogists:

Muhn Brings Extensive Nonprofit Experience to Premiere Professional Genealogy Event

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo., 22 April 2019—The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG®) today announced the appointment of Judy Nimer Muhn as coordinator for the 2020 Professional Management Conference (PMC). Muhn, of Milford, Michigan, brings decades of nonprofit-management and genealogical leadership to this annual conference that serves the professional genealogy field.

Muhn joins Annette Burke Lyttle, who has served as APG PMC Coordinator since 2017 and will continue in her role. Muhn will rotate management of the conference with Lyttle each year. “With Annette’s help, we’ve grown APG PMC’s program and offerings over the past few years,” said APG President Billie Stone Fogarty. “We realized that much of the planning for the next conference needed to take place while we were working on the current conference. Having two professionals in this role addresses this issue, while augmenting creative planning and giving each coordinator a needed break between conferences.”