Leroy Black was a man loved by all.
In fact, when the New Jersey man died this week after a battle with lung cancer, there were two side-by-side obituaries published in the Press of Atlantic City — one from his loving wife, and the other from his longtime girlfriend.
The Philly Voice noted that Black’s dual obituaries both appeared on page D6 of Friday’s newspaper, one listing a wife named Bearette Harrison Black and the other from a girlfriend named Princess Hall. To make it more obvious, both used the same picture of a stoic-looking Black wearing a clean white suit and a flower pinned to the lapel.
The strange obituaries for Leroy Black made national headlines, with coverage in Fox News and across a number of other national news outlets.
Strangely enough, it seems that Black’s wife and girlfriend are aware of each other, at the very least. A spokesperson for the funeral home hosting his service told the Philly Voice that each woman wanted to publish their own obituary because “the wife wanted it one way, and the girlfriend wanted it another way.”
Leroy Black is not the first person to be memorialized in a very awkward obituary. Three years ago, the death of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick prompted one of the most scathing obituaries ever, with her grown children marking her passing by listing her many faults.
The obituary ran in the Reno Gazette-Journal but was later deleted, though Gawker was able to preserve it for posterity.
“Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.”
Gawker found a hint of Marianne’s troubling past, noting that she was called before the Nevada Equal Rights Commission in 1970 after running a “White Only” listing on some referrals to keep black people from applying.
Marianne’s daughter, Katherine Reddick, later recounted to xojane the abuse and neglect she and her siblings suffered at the hands of her mother.
“Her presence meant that we (my 6 siblings and I all approximately 12 months apart in age) would be beaten at her slightest mood change and needed to dodge all obstacles she could throw at us. As we ran for cover, she chased us, screaming her vile language and spewing her vitriol,” Katherine wrote.
Reddick wrote that her mother left the children on their own, and at age 6 she had to care for her younger siblings while her mother went out drinking and brought different men to the home. If her mother had a visitor, the children were sometimes locked in a room and left with only dog food to eat, she noted.
The Reno Gazette noted that the obituary was submitted online and was pulled as soon as staffers discovered the scathing content, but by that point, it had spread across the country and prompted thousands of shares on social media.
While Leroy Black may have left a complicated wake in his death, he was clearly a man who inspired love and not hatred. All of his loved ones will now get a chance to see each other on Sunday, when his funeral will be held in Atlantic City, likely a very awkward affair.
[Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/AP Images]