2008 SPOW Awards
Jim Nicholson, the first recipient of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers Lifetime Achievement Award, shows off his award in this picture taken by his niece.
"I am thrilled with it," the retired Philadelphia Daily News obituary writer, whom many SPOW members regard as their inspiration, wrote upon receiving the reward through the mail. "Love the tombstone shape. It is also so elegant. I have put it on my livingroom TV set where even the most casual visitor cannot help but notice it."
Nicholson is considered a pioneer in writing obits about everyday people.
Kay Powell, Atlanta Journal-Constitution obits editor (right), and Tom Hawthorn, a freelancer who writes obits for the Globe and Mail of Canada, shared top honors in the 2008 Society of Professional Obituary Writers Awards. They tied for the Best Body of Work produced in 2007.
Powell, who says two SPOW Awards sitting side-by-side remind her of the 10 Commandments, tied with another Atlanta Journal-Constitution obit writer, Holly Crenshaw, in the Best Short-Form obituary (800 words and under) about a Celebrity or Famous Person category.
Hawthorn, who pretended to swoon when his name was announced (left), also wrote the winning obit in the Best Long-Form (over 800 words) Obituary about an Average Joe or Non-celebrity category.
The following list of SPOW Award winners does not include the online poll. Read the winners' obit work on the SPOW Obituaries page.
#1. Best long-form obituary (over 800 words) about a celebrity or famous person. Tie. Tim Bullamore (right) for “Natalia Karp.” Sandra Martin (left) for “Mr. Toronto.”
#2. Best long-form obituary (over 800 words) about an Average Joe or non-celebrity. Tom Hawthorn’s “Tattoed king of the midway.”
#3. Best short-form obituary (800 words and under) about a celebrity or famous person: Tie. Holly Crenshaw for “Margaret Anne Barnes.” Kay Powell for “Arnold Hardy.”
#4. Best short-form obituary (800 words and under) about an Average Joe or non-celebrity. Carol Smith of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for her story, Dying vet planned a final mission.
#5. Best tribute, memoir, column or retrospective piece (over 800 words). Daniel Asa Rose for “Fare Thee Well, Ex-Father-In-Law, published in Obit Magazine.
#6. Best tribute, memoir, column or retrospective piece (800 words and under). Judy Bachrach for “Remembering Ruth Graham,” published in Obit Magazine.
#7. Best multimedia presentation of an obit or life story. Gayle Ronan Sims (right) of the Philadelphia Inquirer for story of Master Gunnery Sgt. Nicholas Formosa, including slide show with audio and a Marine training video.
#8. Best body of work for 2007 based on exactly five obits. Tie. Tom Hawthorn (Globe and Mail) and Kay Powell (Atlanta Journal Constitution).
#9. Lifetime Achievement Award for obituary writing. Jim Nicholson, retired from Philadelphia Daily News.
Read more about Nicholson, Powell, Hawthorn, other SPOW Award winners (listed below) and winners of the public poll at the Obituary Forum blog.