After a man passed away, he had two separate obituaries dedicated to him on the same page in a local newspaper. The problem was that one had been written by his wife, while the other was from his long-term girlfriend…
His name was Leroy B. Black and he was from Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. Before his death, he had worked at Ocean City Water Park and South Shore Contractors as a technician.
Leroy came from a big family and appeared to be much loved. His parents, Ethlyn and Wilfred Black, welcomed him into the world on September 30, 1960. And his girlfriend’s obituary also listed his many siblings: “Donald, Faye ‘Cherry,’ Janet ‘Vilma,’ Lorna ‘Clover,’ Audrey ‘Marcia,’ and Sandra ‘RoseMarie.’”
He was married to Bearetta Harrison Black and together they had a son, named Jazz. Leroy also had two step-children, Josiah Harrison Fitzpatrick and Malcolm. So, between work, family and his active love-life, it’s fair to say that Leroy was seldom short of company.
Sadly, however, he passed away on August 2, 2016, at the age of only 55. And it could well have been his job as a fiberglass technician that caused his death. That’s because, according to his girlfriend’s obituary, he died of lung cancer that had developed due to him being exposed to fiberglass.
Heart-broken, his wife and girlfriend both wanted to pay their respects in a local newspaper. The Press of Atlantic City subsequently agreed to publish both of the obituaries, although it remains unclear why the same photograph was used in each of them.
The obituaries were placed inches apart, in fact, each using an identical photo of Leroy. If you were flicking through the newspaper and saw them, you would probably assume that it was an editor’s mistake, before realizing that the wording was slightly different.
The first was his wife’s obituary, which identified him as Leroy Bill Black. She referred to herself as his “loving wife, Bearetta Harrison Black,” and stated that her husband had died at home in the company of family members. And she made no reference to his lover.
In contrast, the second obituary from his girlfriend, Princess Hall, identified him as Leroy “Blast” Black. She did not mention that he died in the presence of family members, but she did give the reason for his passing, as well as providing details about his job and his siblings.
And just as Bearetta didn’t mention his girlfriend, Princess made no reference to Leroy’s wife. Instead, she described herself as his “long-tome [sic] girlfriend.” Both women then went on to provide identical details about the funeral.
The funeral was held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 7, 2016, at Greenidge Funeral Homes in Atlantic City. Friends were able to join the service from 1:00 p.m., and there was also a viewing the day before from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the same venue.
One Greenidge employee anonymously spoke with NBC News and told them that someone had called the funeral home to ask “if there’s going to be a problem between the wife and the girlfriend” during the service.
Talking to KYW NewsRadio in Philadelphia, the funeral director of Greenidge Funeral Homes, Joseph Greenidge Jr., said that the situation with Leroy’s obituaries wasn’t actually that uncommon. He explained that there are in fact cases in which several obituaries are written by different loved ones.
For the funeral plans, however, the director had to take instruction from Leroy’s wife, Bearetta. “We follow the state law, which is that there is one point of contact,” he said. “And in this case, as in any case, it would be the spouse, and so we followed the direction of the spouse.”
News website PhillyVoice subsequently called the funeral home to find out more about what had happened. One of their employees explained why the two women decided to go with separate obituaries. “The wife wanted it one way, and the girlfriend wanted it another way,” he said. And so they compromised with the dueling tributes.
While neither woman commented publicly on the situation, it seems possible that the affair was common knowledge – or at least that it became so in the immediate aftermath of his passing. The funeral home employee confirmed that everyone concerned was aware of the two obituaries.
And a bizarre event like this always means one thing – it goes viral. Indeed, thousands of people have subsequently shared the story and, despite the condolences being given, their reactions have been mainly lighthearted and humorous. Others, however, did not find the situation at all amusing.
Twitter user Rebecca Forand shared the story and wrote, “This guy was loved so much both wife, girlfriend place obits in newspaper.” The New Jersey man has even been hailed as a player by some, who praised his actions, while others felt embarrassed for both of the women.
On the Daily Mail website, one reader commented, “Sometimes I am really ashamed of my fellow women. The best outcome would have been if the women had thrown a party to celebrate the fact that the two timing creep had finally croaked it.” But just below that post, another wrote, “Don’t hate the player! Hate the game.”
People may say that three’s a crowd, but Leroy clearly didn’t mind. The story will undoubtedly raise eyebrows and spark differences of opinion. But we can only hope that this situation didn’t make a sad moment even more distressing for those involved. Rest in peace, “Blaze” – we hope that your family and friends are doing well.