Yesterday blogging friend Pam wrote a post encouraging her readers to be curious enough to check out an article in the New York Times titled “Lost to History No More”. I was curious enough and read the article about Dr. Alice Kober and her role in deciphering Linear B a long-lost script from Aegean antiquity.
I found the article quite interesting and it got me to thinking about the role that obituaries play in contemporary society. On Saturday there was a tribute to a homeless man who passed away in April in my hometown newspaper. His name was Alvin Cote and he was from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Why would I care to read a tribute about a homeless man from Saskatoon? I have to confess that it was the illustration that attracted me to the article, but what kept me reading was the beautiful tribute from police personnel who had become a big part of his life. The article also included information about a blog post written by a police officer about Alvin which leads to another article in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix written by Charles Hamilton and David Hutton that was nominated in the Long Features category of the Canadian National Newspaper Awards.
Where is all this leading you ask? Dr. Kober contributed to humanity by deciphering ancient text, and maybe Alvin’s passing will give the citizens of Saskatoon the impetus to build a wellness centre in the city for people like him. Obituaries revealed about two people from very different backgrounds; one a woman with a brilliant academic mind whose body of work almost went unrecognized, the other a man from an abusive background that became an alcoholic on the streets that eulogized by many. And both now recalled as a part of history thanks to the power of the written word.