Statistics show that, by and large, the obituary page in newspapers is one of the first pages readers look at, and it’s not because of morbid fascination. It’s because readers want to know what they need to do in order to comfort and help loved ones or friends in the grieving process.

That’s totally understandable, and I do the same thing, not only with my own newspaper but the one in my adopted hometown of Richmond.

Another thing I enjoy doing is looking through my World Book Year Book every year for the deaths of notable persons, and again that’s because as a member of the media, I’m curious.

When I read the names of the dearly departed, I always wonder if I’ve met some of them in the past and just didn’t remember them in all the years I lived and worked in Richmond and then at home here in Halifax County.

We’re all unique in our own way and most of us contribute to our communities in ways most of us aren’t aware.

The man or woman pumping gas for you and striking up a conversation may not be an elected official or president of some corporation, but he’s important none-the-less in the grand scheme of things.

Have I held the door open for any of them but didn’t know their name or enjoyed a conversation in passing or shared a nod and a smile while in the supermarket or at a stop light?

Newspapers and other media have chronicled the passing of notables in 2018 including the incomparable Aretha Franklin, comic book genius and Spiderman creator Stan Lee, Meherrin native and country music legend Roy Clark, famous scientist and author Stephen Hawking, noted food critic Anthony Bordain and author Philip Roth (Goodbye, Columbus, Portnoy’s Complaint).

I’d like to mention some of my hometown friends and those from other places, in addition to close family who passed away in 2018, but I don’t want to leave anyone out.

They’re all very important to me and have left a lasting legacy for my life in their own, unique ways.

Each of us is notable to someone else, and we’re just as important as the more famous persons you see memorialized each day in obituary pages.

The next time I scan an obituary page, I’ll try to recall the impact that person may have had in my life had I gotten the opportunity to know him or her better during their life here on earth.

We’re all famous in that regard.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at