You probably never met Harry Stamps.
I never met him either. And, sadly, now he’s gone. Harry left this world last Saturday. He was 80.
Of course, there’s no real reason why any of us should know Harry. He’s just some guy from Long Beach, Mississippi.
Though I say that with complete reverence.
“Just some guy” is usually the one who helps you fix the lawn mower. Or looks after your dog. Or loans you his truck so you can go to Costco and buy 80 cases of pudding and maybe some lobster dip.
I have needs. A truck would be helpful.
But while most of the world never got to meet the man, now, thanks to the Internet, countless thousands know his name. And it’s all because of one of the greatest obituaries ever written.
When Amanda Lewis sat down to eulogize her father there was no way she’d know her words would go viral. Generally speaking, obituaries don’t get wildly passed around online, for they tend to lack cats.
Which Harry hated.
“He wouldn’t know what going viral means,”Amanda told the local Sun Herald newspaper. “He would have thought that was a disease he contracted, which would have excited him to have another illness to lord over folks.”
After all, Harry never lost in “competitive sickness.”
So, Amanda’s humorous and touching obit for her dad quickly spread throughout Facebook and other social media sites, and readers were treated to wonderful sentiments about the man she described as a foodie and a natty dresser. To this first point — that of him being a foodie — Amanda notes his membership in the Bacon of the Month Club.
The fact that this even exists should give us all hope.
On the other hand, Harry also loved a martini glass filled with buttermilk, garnished with a chunk of cornbread, which does seem rather weird.
(This, says the guy who eats dry Ramen noodles.)
Weird or not, Amanda added that, “As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life.”
And when it came to style, there wasn’t a runway in the world that would have him. Unless it was, say, an actual runway.
“His signature everyday look was all his: A plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom … his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam’s on Highway 49.”
But most importantly, Harry loved his grass-stained Mississippi State University baseball cap. It was kind of his thing.
And, somehow, when you look back on a man’s life, that just sounds way better than, “Yeah, Dad was really into Brooks Brothers.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with Brooks Brothers — there isn’t — but it’s sort of funny how, in the end, something like that grass-stained MSU baseball cap seems to matter.
So long as it’s not too gross.
“Ol’ Wilbur wore that very same undershirt for 60 straight years. Never washed it. You could smell him from Tucson.”
Yes, just like that hat, Harry enjoyed the simple things in life, and he had incredible wanderlust for the natural world around him. Amanda wrote that her dad traveled extensively.
“He only stayed in the finest quality AAA-rated campgrounds,” the obit reads. “Many years later he purchased a used pop-up camper for his family to travel in style, which spoiled his daughters for life.”
But there were things that Harry didn’t like. Besides cats, he also couldn’t stand “Law & Order,” Martha Stewart, and daylight saving time.
To the latter, Amanda made sure to point out, “It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest.”
The whole obituary is filled with little gems like these, and there’s nothing I can write here that will do it any justice. You simply need to read it for yourself. It’s brilliant.
When I emailed Amanda asking for photos of her dad, she wrote me back and said, “This whole thing is surreal. My dad was the most authentic person I have ever known. It tickles me that this Every Man has resonated with so many people.”
And at the obituary’s conclusion, Amanda hoped her Every Man father could resonate, perhaps, a little more. It ends with a plea.
“Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Daylight Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord’s time.”
Of course, Washington politicians probably won’t listen to any protests in Harry’s name.
He was just some guy from Long Beach, Mississippi.