1. It’s never easy writing a loved one’s obituary. But it’s easier if you can include a longstanding private joke.
The obituary of Johanna R. Scarpitti, who was from New Castle in Delaware and died aged 70, began with “Ding dong the witch is dead” when it appeared in Delaware’s The News Journal last week.
The Oz theme was even extended to dressing her body in black and white stockings and ruby red slippers, like the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.
2. The Oz reference came from the family’s shared love of the film. Daughter Assunta “Sue” Lucy told the News Journal:
That was something between us and there was nothing that was going to stop me… Even if I ended up getting bad reports and people going against me, it had nothing to do with them. This is something she wanted me to do so I did it.
3. The full obit reads:
Ding dong the witch is dead, but the memory of our mother lives on. Johanna Scarpitti, age 70, of New Castle, DE, passed away unexpectedly August 1, 2014 at her summer home.
Johanna was a kind-hearted woman; a loving mother and wife who spoiled her grandchildren without complaint. She was sweet with a side of zest. Johanna loved the beach, boating, kayaking and that incredible drink from The Lazy Lizard. She will be incredibly missed by all who knew her… [a] whole bunch.
She is survived by her husband of 46 years, Joseph; her children: William Scarpitti, Nicole (Vaughn) LeSage, and Assunta (Mark) Lucy; and grandchildren: Jacquelyn (Sean) Rash, Nathan, Dylan, Cathryn, Anna, Gillian, Joseph, Bryan and Courtney.
4. Scarpitti died on 1 August, after suffering from a form of lung disease.
Although she had been ill, her death came as a shock to the family. Lucy had to find the slippers online to fulfill the promise she’d made. She told the newspaper she felt “fulfilled” by carrrying out the request.