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Commentary: Readers do get unhappy without Willmar obituaries

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One of the best read parts of the West Central Tribune — in print, online or digital editions — is the obituaries and death notices published on our records page. Obituaries and death notices are generally one of the top read sections of any newspaper.

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When something happens on Wctrib.com overnight and obituaries are not posted online, readers — especially those in winter sunbird destinations — will be calling the newspaper first thing in the morning.

This week the Tribune has not received any obituaries concerning Willmar citizens. So it not surprising that I have received a few phone calls.

I received a call Tuesday from a gentleman who wanted to know why we had quit printing Willmar obituaries. The gentleman complained that Monday’s Tribune printed no obituaries and Tuesday’s newspaper printed only two out-of-town obituaries — one from Montevideo and one from Texas.

I informed the reader that the Tribune had not quit printing Willmar obits. I explained that the lack of Willmar obituaries was that no one had submitted a Willmar obituary or death notice to print.

The gentleman then said we better start printing Willmar obituaries. I assured the reader that the Tribune would print Willmar obituaries when we receive them and thanked him for reading the newspaper.

On Wednesday, I noted that the Tribune had received and published only one death notice — again from Montevideo.

By mid-morning, I received another call from a lady, who was a bit angry. She wanted to know why the Tribune had stopped printing Willmar obituaries. I also informed this second reader that the Tribune had not quit printing Willmar obits, but she didn’t sound like she believed me.

I explained further that the newspaper had not received any obituaries or death notices for any Willmar resident in recent days. She was upset that there had not been any Willmar obituaries since Monday and she wanted to make sure the newspaper would start printing Willmar obituaries again.

I assured the reader that the newspaper would print Willmar obituaries when we receive them and thanked her for reading the Tribune.

On Thursday, I noted The Tribune printed only two death notices — one from Olivia and one from Montevideo again. Just to be sure, I called the two Willmar funeral homes to see what was going on.

Apparently, it has been a pretty good week in Willmar as there have been very few deaths of Willmar residents. Each funeral home informed me that they had a death where the deceased did not want an obituary or death notice and the families honored those wishes. In another death, the family was holding services at a later date and would provide notice at that time.

In looking back over that past week, Monday was unique as we received no obituaries or death notices at all. That does happen on occasion.

The last Willmar obituary we received was on June 6. We printed one Willmar death notice on June 7 and another Willmar death notice in Friday’s newspaper.

Over the same period, we received four obituaries and 11 death notices about regional residents.

So apparently it has just been a good week in Willmar as there just have been a small number of deaths of city residents. And in those few cases, the families have chosen not to publish a death notice or an obituary.

Readers can see today we have one obituary and two death notices from Willmar.

We can only speculate why there were fewer Willmar obits recently. Maybe people are just living longer, getting healthier, getting better health care, or, maybe, they are eating their vegetables. Who knows, maybe it is due to Obamacare.

Frankly, we take obituaries and death notices seriously at the Tribune as they are important. We do not create fictional obituaries or death notices just to have some.

Those days without Willmar obituaries or death notices are not as bad as no deaths being reported. There are just good days like that on occasion.

Our readers can rest assured that the Tribune prints all obituaries and death notices that we receive from funeral homes or families.

One death notice is printed for each individual at no charge. All obituaries are paid advertising at a rate of $20 per column inch and are published in the Tribune’s print edition and also on Wctrib.com.

I want to thank our Digital Obituary Service staff in Fargo, who process the death notices and obituaries every day. They do a superb job on our obituaries every day.

The Tribune thanks all of our readers — past and present — for their readership of our obituaries and death notices.

Kelly Boldan is the editor of the West Central Tribune of Willmar.

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Kelly Boldan
Kelly Boldan has been the editor of the West Central Tribune of Willmar, since joining the newspaper in October 2001. He has previously worked as the editor at the Bemidji Pioneer, also part of Forum Communications Co., and other daily newspapers, online Web sites, and weekly agriculture newspapers in Wisconsin, Texas and Minnesota. You can follow via Twitter at @KellyBoldanWCT or read about the Tribune's newsroom blog at: insidescoop.areavoices.com or the Tribune's blog at: westcentraltribune.areavoices.com.
(320) 235-1150
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