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The Internet proves useful

You can really help an elderly person you know by tracking down recent online obituaries written about one of his or her far-away friends. It explains why that friend hasn't called or written in a while.

It's sad, but at least it's an answer.

High Noon: Obituaries

Horizon Hospice worker Cyndy Stevenson talks to Meadow Ridge Elementary fifth- and sixth-graders about obituaries that appear in the newspaper and the importance of appreciating a life story that has been condensed into a single paragraph.

I don't usually read the obituaries with the exception of the Sunday paper. Then I take time to read them over. First I look for familiar names, then I check for ages. I always pause for a moment and read the obit of someone my own age, or my huband's age. And I always read the obituraries for those 21 and younger.

How about you? Do you read the obituaries in the newspaper? Why or why not?

Political leanings of Northwest colleges

So I was reading an obituary written about the actor William Windom. I always like to see if someone's appearance in "The Twilight Zone" will be mentioned. It was.

But the thing that caught my eye was the fact that the Citadel in South Carolina and Antioch in Ohio were among two of the colleges where Windom studied.

Talk about schools on opposite ends of the political/attitudinal spectrum.

Anyway, that made me wonder. If we restricted ourselves to colleges in the Northwest, what two institutions are most unlikely to show up on one student's academic record?

Maybe Reed or The Evergreen and a conservative church school? 


Suspect had victim’s obituary in his truck

Detectives search murder suspect Daniel Arteaga's home at 19329 E. Valleyway Ave., in Spokane Valley on Tuesday. (SRPhoto/Meghann Cuniff)

Detectives found a newspaper containing murder victim Kim Schmidt's obituary when they searched the truck of her suspected killer recently.

Daniel R. Arteaga, 40, had the obituary in his GMC truck, along with .45 caliber handgun in a fanny back, cartridges and magazines, DVDs and a notebook and earrings.

Detectives seized those items Aug. 7 after Arteaga was arrested for first-degree murder. They also seized nearly 100 items from his home at 19329 E. Valleyway in Spokane Valley.

Among the times found at Arteaga's home were notebooks and at least 29 firearms, including shotguns, rifles and pistols. Arteaga has a concealed weapons permit.

He remains in jail on $1 million bond for first-degree murder. He's accused of killing Schmidt, who was found dead of a gunshot wound to her head at her home in north Spokane on Jan. 1.

Arteaga has been married for about 22 years and told detectives his wife of 22 years didn't know he'd been having an affair with Schmidt for about 6 1/2 years.

Detectives believe Schmidt's desire to end their relationship and the money he owed her may have been a factor in her murder. Schmidt and Arteaga also were named in two lawsuits, and Schmidt had told Arteaga she was romantically involved with another man.

Invisible grief

Today's EndNotes column addresses the issue of infertility and the grief it brings to those who long to become parents. So many people want to have children and seek avenues to get to parenthood. Take a moment to learn what you may do to support those you love who live with this sadness.

Also in today's column, learn about obituaries and why they are written with the details - or lack of details - that they are. 

(S-R archives photo)

Former police spokesman Cottam dies

Richard M. " Dick" Cottam, a former Spokane Police Department spokesman and television journalist, died Friday. He was 81.

Cottam served with the Marine Corps in Korea, where he was wounded and received the Purple Heart. He then attended the University of Missouri, earning a bachelor's degree in journalism. He taught there and worked at a local radio station, then took a job with NBC in Chicago and New York.

He left NBC and moved to Wichita, Kan., where he taught journalism at Wichita State University and worked at KAKE-TV.

He and his wife, JoyLyn, moved to Spokane, where Cottam worked as an assignment editor and newscast producer for KHQ-TV. Then he went to work for the city of Spokane as a spokesman for the Police Department.

He retired when police Chief Roger Bragdon retired in December 2005.

Cottam and his wife returned to Wichita. She and a daughter, Christine Susan Cottam, survive him. A memorial service will be held Tuesday morning at Cochran Mortuary in Wichita.

Murder victim remembered in obituary

A 22-year-old man found shot in the head in the trunk of his burning Thunderbird was remembered in an obituary Sunday as a caring, fun-loving man who loved country western music, movies and "wearing his trademark bling."

Nicholas J. "Nick" Thoreson enjoyed spending time with his girlfriend, Ivory Hendry , and their 1-year-old son, Thomas.

His greatest joy was caring for the boy, the obituary said. Thoreson "lived life to the fullest," and enjoyed, "above all else, spending time with his family."

"Nick left this earth too early for us to understand, but God always has a purpose and therefore we all must believe that Nick is still among us fulfilling his," the obituary reads.
Thoreson attended Greenacres elementary and junior high as well as Central Valley High School. He spent two years in  job corps, where he met Hendry. Friends say Thoreson also met one of his accused killers, Taylor J. Wolf, in job corps.
Thoreson's memorial is next Saturday. 
"Thank you for being part of our lives Nick - you will continue to live in our hearts and never be forgotten," his family wrote.
Wolf, 20, who has ties to the Hells Angels, and sibling murder suspects Breeanna Sims, 19, and Justice Sims, 18, are charged in Spokane County District Court. 
Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said today that he expects to file charges in Superior Court this week.
Asked if the suspects could be charged with aggravated murder, which carries the death penalty or life in prison with no parole, Driscoll said "perhaps."
"We'll formally file charges in the next day or so, and you'll know then," he said.
Court documents say Thoreson was assaulted for hours and stabbed several times before he was fatally shot in the head. His body was found in the Thunderbird near Forker and Bigelow Gulch roads April 13.
A motive is unclear. Breeanna Sims told a friend that her brother believed Thoreson had held her against her will, but Justice Sims told another person that Thoreson had told on his sister, which led to the murder.
Past coverage:

Specific details in obits

Obituaries, once written for newspapers by obit writers and placed in the news sections, are now done by family and friends and placed as paid classified ads.

As in any writing, the best obits contain specific details.

A former work colleague, now at WSU, sent along an obit about a long-ago WSU student who recently died doing what she loved, as the cliche goes. I applaud the honesty about her demise in the excerpt that follows:

After the death of her husband, Patricia fulfilled a  dream and bought a 41-foot sailboat. She certainly was captain of her boat and learned about sailing, navigation, and caring for her boat. She hired Jan Vos, a young Dutch sailor, and together they sailed through the Panama Canal and to the Dutch Lesser Antilles. It was her dream to live on the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. She loved living on her boat with her dogs, and made many friends in her travels.

Pat had moved back to Bonaire to be near her friends of many years about one month before her accidental death. Pat was going to her boat at the marina with two bags of groceries. She tripped, dropping her groceries and losing one flip-flop on the pier. She fell, hitting her head as she went into the water.


Former Sen. Jim McClure dies at age 86

Longtime Idaho Sen. Jim McClure, who served six years in the U.S. House and 18 in the U.S. Senate, has died at the age of 86. He held Idaho's 1st Congressional District seat from 1966 to 1972, and represented Idaho in the Senate from 1972 to 1990. Click below for a full report from Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey.