FORT WAYNE – Two weeks ago Susan Haisley and her sister, Diane Johnson, learned they had died – at least in print – more than 14 years ago.
Haisley was searching the Internet when she came across a gravesite photo and obituary for her mother, Juliette Ann Grosvenor, who died Sept. 21, 1999, and was buried in Lindenwood Cemetery.
I was searching a site called FindAGrave.com and came upon Mom’s grave, and that’s where I saw the obituary that listed Diane and I as having preceded our mother in death, Haisley said.
Haisley, who lives in Fishers, was incredulous. Her brother Bruce Grosvenor Jr., of Scottsburg, somehow survived the error and was listed as the only living child.
The obituary appeared in The Journal Gazette on Sept. 23, 1999. This is the story of a 14-year-old newspaper correction.
I turned to my husband and said something like, It’s time to cash in on the insurance policy; I’m deceased,’ Haisley said, laughing.
She then posted a link to the information on Facebook, urging her brother and sister to check out the FindAGrave.com site where the obituary had been reposted.
Although Haisley’s brother laughed as much as she had, her sister, who had studied journalism when she was younger, was not quite as amused – at least not right away.
I really ripped into the FindAGrave.com website and left a blistering comment, said Johnson, who lives in Winnebago, Ill.
All information about surviving or deceased relatives had been removed from the site just days later.
Johnson then called The Journal Gazette. She explained what she had discovered and asked whether anyone knew how it had happened. News staff were as amazed as Johnson and her siblings.
Why had no one ever called in a complaint or reported the inaccuracy? How had the slipup happened? Was it a reporting error or was the newspaper given incorrect information?
There were no answers; the file had grown cold.
But one thing was for certain – Johnson and Haisley were very much alive.
It’s just good to be acknowledged as being alive, Johnson said. But it does make me wonder about what I missed during the years I was dead. Just think of all the missed opportunities, she said, chuckling.
Haisley’s three grown children and extended family have also laughed it off.
The whole thing is really crazy, Haisley said, and, I still can’t decide if I’m happy or sad that no one noticed we had died.