Archive for December, 2011


When I first saw the airplane and death year, I thought that Norman Sebek might have been killed at the very end of 1941, perhaps at Pearl Harbor. In fact, Sebek does not appear to have been in the service at all. He was a pilot and airplane salesman. On May 27, 1941, his plane crashed just after takeoff at the Lake County Airport, and he died in the resulting fire.

“Flier Burned in Crash of Plane,” The Evening Independent (Massillon, Ohio), 5/27/1941, page 5.

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Anton Loncar

According to the Greater Cleveland Veterans Memorial, Anton Loncar of Euclid, Ohio, died in a plane crash near Cuba while serving in the Navy in World War II. He was trained as a torpedo-man. He left behind his mother, another brother in naval service, and four sisters.

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Damaged Tombstone

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” is a quote from the book of Revelations 14:13. It is an extremely popular epitaph in cemeteries. Most of the interpretations of the passage I have read focus on how the quote turns on its head what many people think about death – death is sad for those who love us and sometimes the result of suffering and pain for us, but here is a scripture talking about blessings at the time of death. The idea seems to be that those who have lived their life in faith and service to God will, when they die, be rewarded. The next passage, not quoted on this tombstone, says that the blessed dead will rest from their labors.

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Sprigman (3)

So I was paging through the photos I took recently at Spring Grove Cemetery, and I noticed the letters “obt” where i would normally expect to see “died” or some other euphemism for death. I hadn’t noticed this before, so I looked it up and found that obt. is an abbreviation for obiit (an abbreviation that only removed 2 letters? why?), which is Latin for “died.” Makes sense – Latin has been considered one of the languages of the educated for a long time. But I took 3 years of Latin in high school (plus a year of loose independent study when I transferred to a school that did not offer a 4th year of Latin), and I have retained a reasonable amount of my vocabulary from that, but I don’t remember encountering the word before. I’m not sure why. We learned a lot, not just about Latin, but about Roman culture and history, and there was certainly a lot of killing and dying in the political history of Rome.

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My faith in immortality and in the goodness of Him who guides and directs all things is very great.

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Stickle (2)

For those of you who celebrate it, Merry Christmas! For everyone, enjoy the quiet of the day.

Stickle (3)

Stickle (5)

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This boulder from Arizona marks the resting place of Erma Bombeck in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio. Tonight, I’ll go to the Christmas Eve service with my mother, and when I think of Erma Bombeck, I think of Mom.

My mother read and laughed at Bombeck’s witty columns and books for as long as I can remember. Bombeck wrote about being a wife and mother with a good dose of humor, and I think my mother must have seen some of her own experiences reflected in those words. Bombeck loved her family, but she also voiced all the annoyances and difficulties while laughing at them and herself.

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“In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.”

June Louise’s epitaph is a quote from Albert Camus. I love the quote, but I don’t claim familiarity with Camus or his philosophy, so I did some quick Googling to write this post. Camus was a mid-20th century philosopher who agreed with many others in that human life was illogical and irrational, but diverged from some of his contemporaries by emphasizing what he perceived as the sanctity of human life and living by a strict moral code to maximize everyone’s enjoyment of life. There is a second hopeful thought in his words for those of us who live in the snowy midwest – summer is never too far away.

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William T Becker

On the list of things that I never noticed the first time around are trumpets being held by angel statues. Trumpets are a pretty necessary accessory for a Christian angel – they were supposedly heard on the night that Christ was born and will be heard again on Judgment Day to call the souls to resurrection. Trumpets are a more general symbol of victory and resurrection as well.



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