Family’s hilarious tribute to their prankster dad

The quirky and moving obituary has gone viral
Joseph Heller obituary
Joseph let his daughters do his hair
Monique Heller/RWW Funeral Home

Moving and witty tribute has drawn praise from around the world

When Joseph A Heller, Jnr passed away aged 82, his family wanted his obituary to reflect his sense of fun – and get their own back after years of pranks.

So his daughter Monique Heller penned a witty and moving tribute to the much-loved father and grandfather that has quickly gone viral.

The obit, posted on a funeral home website, says Joseph, who died on September 8, had thwarted childhood lunch thieves with ‘laxative-laced sandwiches’ and had named his dog Fart just so his mother would be forced to yell the word in public.

The warm and funny note begins, ‘Joe Heller made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on September 8, 2019, signing off on a life, in his words, “generally well-lived and with few regrets.”

‘When the doctors confronted his daughters with the news last week that “your father is a very sick man,” in unison they replied, “you have no idea.” God thankfully broke the mold after Joe was born to the late Joseph Heller, Sr. and Ruth Marion (Clock) on January 24, 1937 in New Haven, CT.’

It explains Joseph’s wife was a prim and proper churchgoer, who he met when they both worked at the same company.

‘There he met the love of his life, Irene, who was hoodwinked into thinking he was a charming individual with decorum. Boy, was she ever wrong. 

Joseph Heller obituary
Joseph let his daughters do his hair (Credit: Monique Heller/RWW Funeral Home)

‘Joe embarrassed her daily with his mouth and choice of clothing. To this day we do not understand how he convinced our mother, an exceedingly proper woman and a pillar in her church, to sew and create the colorful costumes and props which he used for his antics.’ 

Monique said her father had enjoyed spending time with his three daughters, and loved to tease their dates. ‘Joe was a frequent customer of the girls’ beauty shops, allowing them to ‘do’ his hair and apply make-up liberally.

‘He lovingly assembled doll furniture and built them a play kitchen and forts in the back yard. During their formative years, Joe made sure that their moral fibers were enriched by both Archie Bunker and Benny Hill.

‘When they began dating, Joe would greet their dates by first running their license plates and checking for bald tires. If their vehicle passed inspection, they were invited into the house where shotguns, harpoons and sheep “nutters” were left clearly on display.’

And Joseph was remembered for his role in the community.

Joseph Heller and Irene
Irene and Joseph Heller (Credit: Monique Heller/RWW Funeral Home)

‘As well as being a veteran and ‘Town Constable, Volunteer Fireman and Ambulance Association member, Cross walk guard, Public Works Snow Plower’ Joseph was a ‘consummate napper.’

Monique explained, ‘There wasn’t a road, restaurant or friend’s house in Essex that he didn’t fall asleep on or in. There wasn’t an occasion too formal or an event too dour that Joe didn’t interrupt with his apnea and voluminous snoring.’

And the family admitted the lengthy and public tribute would have vexed their father, but they hoped it would make him smile.

No flowers, please. The family is seeking donations to offset the expense of publishing an exceedingly long obituary which would have really p*ssed Joe off.’

The tribute ends with an apology to their mother, who has passed away, for not giving her more peace. ‘Sorry, Mom, Lisette and I did the best we could to take care of him and keep him out of your hair as long as we could. Back in your court now.’

Joseph Heller
The late Joseph Heller (Credit: Monique Heller/RWW Funeral Home)

The obituary has drawn praise from around the world, with well-wishers posting condolences despite never meeting Joseph.

Arlene Smith wrote, ‘I would have loved to have met your father he sounds like my kind of guy say it like is I’m sure your childhood was very interesting. I am so sorry for your loss.’

And Rita Durfee posted, ‘This is the best obituary ever written. It is an amazing tribute to a man who seemed like he lived a full life. Thank you for sharing this. I am so sorry for the family’s loss. Sending prayers and loving thoughts.’

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