Towards the end of his 82-year-long life, when Joseph A. Heller Jr.’s doctor told his daughters “your father is a very sick man,” they responded, “You have no idea.” That’s the hilarious kind of people who wrote a 1,300 word obituary that pays tribute to their prankster father in the best way. Monique, Michelle and Lisette Heller penned an obit filled with digs and jokes at their dad’s expense that he undoubtedly would have loved. In fact, the opening line of the piece is “Joe Heller made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on September 8, 2019, signing off on a life, in his words, ‘generally well-lived and with few regrets.'” From there, the emotional piece speaks of Joseph’s youth, growing up in New Haven, Connecticut during the Great Depression, which “shaped Joe’s formative years and resulted in a lifetime of frugality, hoarding and cheap mischief, often at the expense of others.”
They go on to describe some of the pranks he pulled in his lifetime, including ones that sought vengeance on lunch thieves with “laxative-laced chocolate cake and excrement meatloaf sandwiches.” He even named his first dog “Fart” so that his mom would have to yell the dog’s name to have it come to her.
They also wrote that Heller “left his family with a house full of crap, 300 pounds of birdseed and dead houseplants that they have no idea what to do with,” and that Heller was preceded in death by his pet fish, Jack, “who we found in the freezer last week.”
The responses to the obit have been overwhelming for the Hellers, who told WFSB they wrote it “kind of as a memoir” of Joe, a Navy veteran and dog-lover. Monique said, “Consistently, people are saying to me, ‘Thank you for sharing your dad with us. We wish we had known your dad, he sounds like my kind of guy.'”
Instead of flowers, the family joked that they are accepting “donations to offset the expense of publishing an exceedingly long obituary.” However, they then stated donations to the Seabee Memorial Scholarship Association would be accepted as well. Additionally, they suggested people have a cup of coffee with a friend or play a “harmless prank on some unsuspecting sap” in Joe’s honor.
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