Joe Heller, a frequent shopper at a dump, "left his family with a house full of crap, 300 pounds of birdseed and dead houseplants that they have no idea what to do with," writes his family in his obituary.
The out-of-the ordinary, down-to earth viral obituary is bringing a lot of smiles after the 82-year-old Connecticut man, writes his family, "made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on Sept. 8" when he died.
"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.'"
Heller was the ultimate prankster and it started in his childhood, his family writes.
"His mother was not immune to his pranks as he named his first dog, 'Fart,' so she would would have to scream his name to come home if he wondered off." He also thwarted "lunch thieves with laxative-laced chocolate cake and excrement meatloaf sandwiches."
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Daughter Monique Heller told WFSB-TV in Hartford that she wrote the obituary "kind of as a memoir of my father."
"His local friends could relate and say, ‘Oh, that was a Joe story,'" she told the TV station.
Heller was preceded in death by his pet fish, Jack, "who we found in the freezer last week," the obituary also says.
The veteran, after his service in the U.S. Navy, served as a constable, volunteer fireman, ambulance association member, cross walk guard and public works snow plower. He also had a soft spot for dogs. "He refused to put any of his 'prisoners' down and would look for the perfect homes for them," the obituary says.
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The obituary also described his relationship with his late wife Irene, "who was hoodwinked into thinking he was a charming individual with decorum," and their children.
"Growing up in Joe’s household was never dull," the obituary says, adding that he often let his daughters do his hair in their younger days and would later grill the dates they brought home.
"Consistently, people are saying to me, 'Thank you for sharing your dad with us. We wish we had known your dad, he sounds like my kind of guy,'" Monique Heller told WFSB-TV.
Instead of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Seabee Memorial Scholarship Association in Mississippi, "if you feel compelled to waste your hard-earned money to honor his memory."
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The family is also holding a celebration of life Thursday, "with Joe laid out in all his glory," and encouraged people to show up late and "to don the most inappropriate T-Shirt that you are comfortable being seen in public with as Joe often did."
On the funeral home's website, the obituary is drawing many comments as the family's humorous approach strikes a universal chord:
- Says John F. of Paris, France (an American overseas): "Don't know you, don't know Joe. Though I feel I know him a lot better, thanks to your gloriously funny and sweet obituary."
- Writes Jay Lennox of West Hartford, Connecticut: "I didn't know Joe but wish I had. That is the best obituary I've ever read! Whoever wrote the obituary captured his true spirit. Well done!"
- Writes Sue Kuzoian of New York: "This is the most amazing obituary I've ever read and hope to one day have one half as good."
Read Heller's full obituary and leave your own comments here.
Jackson reports for the Mississippi Clarion Ledger. Follow USA TODAY's Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joseph Heller obituary: Connecticut dad, prankster hilariously honored