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Walter George Bruhl, Jr. who died on Sunday at the age of 80, sounds kind of guy I would have liked. He adored his wife Helene (married for 57 years!), and his kids and grandkids, not to mention a tumbler of Jack Daniels and watching South Park. Apparently, I'm not his only posthumous fan. On Monday, when his grandson Sam posted Bruhl's self-penned obituary-which the family only discovered after he passed away-it shot to the top of Reddit, with complete strangers offering their condolences, promises to pay it forward as Bruhl had requested in lieu of flowers, and memories of their own granddads.
"Typical of my PopPop," Samuel posted on Facebook on Monday. "He cut out the middleman and wrote his own damn obituary. He's the only man I've ever known to be able to add his own humor like this. So glad I got to read one more thing from my favorite writer."
It's worth taking a few minutes to read the full text, which is brimming with lessons on how to make life-and even the afterlife-an adventure full of love and laughter. He wrote:
Walter George Bruhl Jr of Newark and Dewey Beach DE is a dead person, he is no more, he is bereft of life, he is deceased, he has wrung down the curtain and gone to join the choir invisible, he has expired and gone to meet his maker.
He drifted off this mortal coil on _____________ at __________ at his home in ________. His spirit was released from his worn out shell of a body and is now exploring the universe.
He was surrounded by his loving wife of ______ years, Helene Sellers Bruhl, who will now be able to purchase the mink coat which he had always refused her because he believed only minks should wear mink, his two sons, their wives, and his four grandchildren. Walt was preceded in death by his tonsils and adenoids in 1935, a spinal disc in 1974, a large piece of his thyroid gland in 1988, and his prostate on March 27th 2000.
He was born in Phila. PA on April 20th 1933 at 10:38 PM and weighed in at a healthy 7lbs. 4oz. and was 22" long, to Blanche Buckman Bruhl and Walter George Bruhl. He drifted through the Philadelphia Public School System from 1937 through 1951, graduating, to his mother's great relief, from John Bartram High School in June of 1951. Walter was a Marine Corps Veteran of the Korean War having served from October of 1951 to September of 1954 with overseas duty in Japan from June of 1953 till August of 1954. He attained the rank of Sergeant. He chose this path because of Hollywood propaganda, to which he succumbed as a child during WWII, and his cousin Ella, who joined the corps in 1943.
He served an electronics apprenticeship at the Phila. Naval Yard from 1956 till 1961, operated Atlantic Automotive Service Stations in Wilmington during 1961 and 1962 and was employed by the late great DuPont Co. from 1962 thru 1993 (very few people who knew him would say he worked for DuPont and he always claimed he had only been hired to fill a position).
He started at the Chestnut Run Site as a flunky in the weave area of the Textile Fibers Dept., and then was promoted to research assistant, where he stayed from 1953 through 1972. In 1972 he accepted a position as an equipment service representative with the Photo Products Dept. at the old DuPont Airport Site (now Barley Mill Plaza).
In 1973 he was promoted to Manufacturing Engineering Technologist and was employed in that capacity until, after 31 years with The Co., he was given a fine anniversary dinner and a token gift and then 'downsized' in Dec. of 1993. He was rehired as a contract employee in June of 1994, doing the same job that he had been 'downsized' from, and stayed until July of 1995. He started his own contract business and worked at Litho Tech Ltd. from 1996 till 1999.
There will be no viewing since his wife refuses to honor his request to have him standing in the corner of the room with a glass of Jack Daniels in his hand so that he would appear natural to visitors.
Cremation will take place at the family's convenience and his ashes will be kept in an urn until they get tired of having it around. What's a Grecian Urn? Oh, about 200 drachmas a week.
Everyone who remembers him is asked to celebrate Walt's life in their own way, raising a glass of their favorite drink in his memory would be quite appropriate. Instead of flowers, Walt would hope that you will do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for some poor unfortunate soul in his name.
"Great obituaries are ones when after you read it, even if you didn't know the person, you felt a pang of loss and some disappointment of never having had the chance to meet that person." Wrote one redditor to Sam Bruhl. "This was one of those obituaries." It's a little early in the day, but when 5 p.m. rolls around we'll be breaking out a bottle of Jack and raising a glass to Walter, Sam, Helene, and Helene's new mink coat.
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