Daughter's tribute to father's life of 'cheap mischief' goes viral

By Tom Gillespie, news reporter A daughter's offbeat obituary about her father's life of "obnoxious pranks" and "cheap mischief" has gone viral, as readers were left both moved and amused by the unconventional tribute. Monique Heller, from Connecticut, wrote the piece for her local paper The Hartford Courant after her father Joe died aged 82 on 8 September.

Ms Heller, who has two sisters, wrote that when a doctor told them their "dad was sick" their tongue-in-cheek response was: "You have no idea." She went on to describe her father, who lived in the town of Essex in Connecticut, as a "consummate napper" who "never met a dog he didn't like". Ms Heller added: "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 apnoea and voluminous snoring." Ms Heller said that her father's upbringing instilled in him an attitude of "frugality, hoarding and cheap mischief" that was "often at the expense of others".

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The obituary states that when he was a child he was said to have enjoyed "thwarting lunch thieves with laxative-laced chocolate cake".

Mr Heller worked as library assistant at Yale Law School as a young man before joining the Navy. He later became a chemist at a local make-up company where he developed its early cosmetic lines. Mr Heller was also said to be a proud local civil servant who served with the Essex Volunteer Fire Department, and worked variously as a town constable, a crossing guard, a snowplough operator and a dog catcher who would rescue strays.

His daughter wrote: "He was proud of being a blue-collar guy and not part of the old or new money of Essex." Ms Heller also described how her foul-mouthed father would often embarrass their mother "with his mouth and choice of clothing". She added that her late father left his family with a "house full of c***, 300 pounds of birdseed and dead houseplants that they have no idea what to do with".

Ms Heller told the New York Times she never expected the obituary to go viral, but added that after it was shared online condolences came in "from all 50 states" as well as the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The obituary was published before Mr Heller's funeral on Friday, where mourners were advised to wear "the most inappropriate T-shirt you are comfortable being seen in public with, as Joe often did". Ms Heller also wrote that her father had requested not to have a fancy send-off, preferring his family to "dig a hole in the backyard and just roll him in".

The request was ignored and Mr Heller was buried next to his wife Irene who died in 2015. His coffin, draped in a US flag, had travelled to the cemetery on a 1941 Mack fire truck he had helped to restore. Family members followed the fire truck in Mr Heller's restored 1932 Plymouth roadster, which as he requested, had a set of plastic testicles dangling from the rear bumper.

Ms Heller told the New York Times: "People like my dad are the backbone of this country, and I think the world wants to hear their stories."

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