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Barry Schrader


I wrote a column for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle for 8 years starting in December 2007 and running until November 2015. Then I returned to column writing in August 2016, all of them archived here.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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What will 2017 add to your legacy?

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................Jan. 6, 2017

As the years go by, many people accomplish great things or, by accident, make the headlines. Think back to what milestones or major events in your life are worth mentioning on your résumé or in an obituary.

Looking ahead to April, there are elections countywide where new people will take office or others be re-elected – mayors, council members, school board trustees and even a few city clerks. Those who win in each community can add that to

their résumés or preserve for their obituaries. Other people may be appointed to some position, become president of a club or nonprofit, be honored for years of service or an outstanding accomplishment.

Unexpected recognitions also grab headlines – winning the Illinois Lottery, surviving a plane crash or performing a heroic act on the spur of the moment. So think back to when you did something or had something happen that could be included in your obit or on a résumé. Looking ahead, will 2017 be one of the years you have something monumental to record for posterity?

An old adage in the news business used to be that there are three times a person will have their name printed in the newspaper – when they are born, they get married and they die.

You can almost claim anything you want when you write your obituary, since the funeral directors never question a client’s honesty and newspapers (in most markets) only run paid notices, so take no responsibility for the content.
So if I decide I want to slip in a Pulitzer Prize for journalism or a Nobel Prize for literary achievement, who would be the wiser? But you had better be careful how you got along with your surviving relatives or heirs. If you cut them off, they might add a sentence stating you did time for forgery, turned atheist or had three unsuccessful marriages. That has happened in the past, although not locally.

It might be wise to compose your own obituary now and prepay the funeral home to have it “set in stone” so no one can tamper with your reputation once you go to “the great beyond.”
This general subject was discussed in a year-end commentary in the Chicago Tribune, and I found this quote worth sharing: “What you do starting today, how you live your life now, can rewrite your obituary for better or worse. What you have accomplished so far, who you have been up to now, may or may not make the final cut.”

If you find that hard to believe, think of Rod Blagojevich becoming governor of Illinois and where he is now; or Hillary Clinton, who was sure she would be the first woman elected U.S. president. What will be the lead sentence in their death notices – especially since they are famous enough to have their life stories written by professional news people, not by a family member or funeral home? So you’d better start looking for that “good news” headline.
But don’t count on it being winning the lottery.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115