Newspaper declined to publish a line in an obituary mentioning Trump

Odette Odendaal
Jan 17, 2019
10:35 P.M.
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A family from Kentucky received an apology for the editor of a local newspaper after he refused to print the obituary of an 87-year-old woman as unless certain parts got removed.


Shortly after Frances Irene Finley Williams’ death, her family submitted her obituary to the Louisville Courier-Journal so it could run before the funeral.


The message described Frances as a “very, very spirited woman” and “a passionate Democrat” who “did not suffer fools gladly” but loved Elvis and animals. The part in question read:

“Her passing was hastened by her continued frustration with the Trump administration.”


The Courier-Journal contacted Frances’s son Art Williams via email, days before the obituary was supposed to run and wrote:

“We are not able to publish the obituary as is, due to the negative content within the obituary text.”

In spite of the fact that the family paid $1,684 for the obituary to run as Frances would have wanted it, they refused. In the end, they had to omit the line mentioning Trump for their mother’s obituary. Otherwise, it would not run in time.


Days later Art Williams reportedly posted criticism about the publication’s decision on Facebook and wrote:  

“My mom would have been offended — and I hope you are too.”

Joseph Gerth of the Courier-Journal agreed with Art and argued in his column on Tuesday that the obituary should have run precisely as the family wanted it, no matter who was politically supported or opposed.


As part of his article, Joseph added a quote from Richard Green, the Courier-Journal editor, and offered Frances’s family “our deepest condolences and apologies” while offering to provide a refund or re-run the obituary as the family originally wanted, and added:

“In this political climate we now find ourselves, partisanship should have no role in deciding what gets included in an obituary that captures a loved one’s life — especially one as amazing as what Mrs. Williams led. I’m certain she is missed greatly by those who loved her.”

It is also understandable that some public services would like to remain impartial on certain issues and their involvement therein. However, when a pastor refused to conduct the funeral of 93-year-old Olivia Blair, things went to a whole other level. 


Olivia’s daughter was taken aback when pastor Walter F. Houston of Fourth Missionary Baptist Church refused to conduct her funeral because Olivia didn't give money to the church in years after she became ill.

The final two years of Olivia’s life was spent in and out of hospital and nursing homes, with her last months spent in a coma.

According to the family, the church never reached out when Olivia was ill, even though she had been a faithful member of the congregation for 50 years. When Olivia’s husband offered to pay for the funeral cost, the paster still denied the family.


Unfortunately, when some public services refuse to provide services that are asked of them, the consequences can be deadly.14-month-old Isabella Rees died in Melbourne’s Sunshine Hospital after her mother, Allison had taken her to the doctor for the third time after she swallowed a button battery.

Doctors were adamant that whatever it was “will pass through” and denied Allison’s request for them to do an x-ray or an ultrasound.

Were these service providers justified in their actions towards those that needed their services?