Obituary gets notice

The Marianne Reddick obituary has become a story read around the world.

The Reno Gazette-Journal ran a paid Sept. 10 obituary in which the recently deceased Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick was denounced, allegedly by one or more of her children, as evil and violent. The obituary ran in some copies of the print edition and was posted online but later removed.

On February 15, 1970, the Nevada State Journal—forerunner of the Gazette Journal—reported that Academy Personnel Agency owner Marianne Reddick testified to the Nevada Equal Rights Commission that a local businessperson had chewed out one of her job counselors for sending a black applicant on a job referral. As a result, she said, she followed a practice of printing “whites only” on job referrals to spare African Americans the embarrassment of being rejected at restricted workplaces.

On Sept. 11, Snopes—the online myth-busting site—added the Reddick incident to an already-posted story confirming the existence of a 2008 obituary in which a Dolores Aguilar was similarly denounced by her children. That obit ran in the Vallejo Times Herald. While the unusual language apparently got through unnoticed in the Reno newspaper, the Vallejo newspaper knowingly agreed to run the Aguilar obit after confirming the woman had died.

Reddick's children have received calls from everywhere, and while there has been considerable humorous treatment of the incident, it has also generated serious discussions of child abuse.

Some readers were critical of the newspaper for not reposting it as an obituary once its authenticity was established. In an essay in the Sunday edition, publisher John Maher did not respond directly to explain why, but said the newspaper is “reviewing its obituary policy.”