The blog format for obituaries is a recent change for The Williston Northampton School. Here’s why we decided to make this adjustment to our obituary submission policy.
As you may be aware, in the past all obituaries were listed in the alumni magazine, The Bulletin. Once printed, that was it—there was no avenue for feedback, from classmates, friends, or family members of the deceased. Some obituaries were long and eloquent. Others were succinct, or simply listed the decedent’s name. In many cases, the school was not notified until months—or, in a few cases, years—after the death of the alumnus/a. With only two copies of The Bulletin published each year, that meant that a significant amount of time passed before the school publicly recognized an obituary.
When a family or classmate submits an obituary or notice of passing to us, we try our best to remember their passing in the fullest and most prompt manner possible. Timeliness and respect were two of the main reasons that the school decided to publish full obituaries online, with names listed in the “In Memoriam” section of The Bulletin.
In an effort to serve our alumni base on a more proactive and time-sensitive manner, we created a listing of the full obituaries on this blog. Now, as the school is notified, a link is posted on the blog site and an email sent to all members of the class (who have a valid email address), notifying them of the death of their classmate. Alumni can go to the site, read the obituary, and post comments. This, we believe, makes both the obituaries and the memories they serve much more interactive and long-lasting. Instead of being a static magazine, we now have a venue where the passions and sympathies of classmates and friends can be captured and responded to on an ongoing basis.
We did some research prior to instituting this policy change and found that independent schools, colleges, and universities are increasingly moving to this format. While this alone is not a good reason to enact this change, coupled with the ability to be more nimble and respond more promptly to the needs of the families of the decedent and their classmates, it felt like the right decision. We are more than happy to listen to the comments of our alumni about this policy, but we believe “In Memoriam” will help the school to honor those in our community who are no longer with us in a more lasting and timely manner.
Jeffrey Pilgrim ‘81
Director of Alumni Relations
The Williston Northampton School