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  • Tracy Hooper

Get Their Name Right

When I was a TV news reporter in Baltimore, Maryland, I was asked to speak at a Career Day at a local high school. There were a few other media people on the panel, including a writer named, Dan Rodericks. Dan was a columnist for The Baltimore Sun, and I admired his work tremendously.

I have no idea what words of wisdom I shared with the students! But I’ve always remembered what Dan talked about. The Obituaries. Dan said he started his career at a small paper writing for the Obituary column. At first, he said he was bummed. He wanted to write breaking news stories that would make front page headlines.

But it didn’t take long, he said, before he started to appreciate how important Obituaries are. They’re an opportunity to acknowledge a person’s presence and contributions to their profession, and to their community and to their families. Obituaries are a small way to honor the life that other people have lived.

Dan said that often, the only time a person’s name is in the newspaper is in their Obituary.

He said, “For starters, I learned the importance of spelling someone’s name correctly and telling their story. Getting it right is a big responsibility.”

As leaders, as professionals, and frankly, as human beings, we have a responsibility to get people’s names and their stories, right. It can be hard. People’s histories and how they spell and pronounce their names can be complicated. But when we take the time to research and share someone’s life, accurately, we’ve honored another human being. That elevates them, in life or in death.

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