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Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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Retired Faculty Association

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Writing an Obituary: Sample

SAMPLE OBITUARY  (Not a real person)

Ralph E. Burlington (Born July 27, 1931, Flemington, N.J.)

Rutgers University Professor emeritus Ralph E. Burlington, author of a series of pamphlets on raising vegetables in the home garden, died (month/day/place/cause) He is survived by his wife Harriet M. Burlington, a retired home economics county extension agent.  They met while working as graduate assistants at the Agricultural Experiment Station of Rutgers University and were wed in 1959.

Burlington was consider one of the Garden State's leading authorities on varieties of plants best suited to the climate and soils of the state.  He was known for the development and introduction in the mid-1960s of the Burlington edible-podded pea.  His pamphlet on that variety, originally written for growers in the state, became the first in the series that became popular among home gardeners.

He was a 1955 graduate of Rutgers, majoring in horticulture, and upon receiving his doctorate in 1961, he was hired by the department of horticulture in what eventually came to be a unit of Cook College.  He was tenured in 1967 and became a full professor in 1976.

He retired in 1992, and for a time he and his wife made their home in Sanibel, Florida. But their love for gardening in New Jersey -- especially the tomatoes developed and improved by their colleagues -- lured them back to a home in Somerset, N.J., with two acres of garden plots.

Every year Burlington traveled around the state to make presentations at county units of the Master Gardeners Program run in association with the state university.  He was a perennial judge at agricultural fairs in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York State as well as New Jersey.

During the early 1980s, he served as chair of the horticulture department at Cook College, but his first loves were the experimental plots and the classroom.  In a colloquium held in his honor at the time of retirement, he said, “The best thing about teaching my subject was the students didn't have to ask if we could hold class outdoors. I was the first one out the door and into the gardens.”

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