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OBITUARY OVERSIGHT: Error forces man to tell everyone he’s still alive

OBITUARY OVERSIGHT: Error forces man to tell everyone he’s still alive

Image: SWNS

A pensioner is telling everyone he is still alive after a local paper printed an obit for an OAP from the same area and the same name - and both with a wife called Pam.

Bill Jones, 85, has been forced to tell friends, neighbours, an OAP group and his cricket club he isn't dead - after the strikingly similar obituary appeared.

It read: "JONES William (Bill) Passed away peacefully at home on 4th April 2021 aged 87 years. Devoted husband of Pam."

The obit also listed him as loving grandfather and said due to Covid restrictions a private funeral would take place on Tuesday, April 27.

The notice didn't list a town - and the man who died was actually another Bill who lived 15 miles away.

But because living Bill Jones is of a similar age, is a grandfather and had a wife called Pam - many assumed he was dead.

Alive Bill was once a councillor so was known by a lot of people - so rumours quickly spread he had passed away.

Bill said the misunderstanding has seen him fielding calls all week after unfounded word of his demise were spread.

He said: "I feel sorry for the family of the other Bill Jones who has died but the whole town seems to think it was me.

"I've been walking around and seeing people in the street and it is like they have seen a ghost."

The 'Bill Jones' obit first appeared in the Western Morning News newspaper on Saturday, April 17.

Bill, who has lived in Tiverton, Devon, his entire life, said the similarities were so stark even people close to him had fallen for it.

He said: "Two weeks ago last Saturday the Western Morning News carried the obit in the paper about a Bill Jones who had passed away with the funeral notices.

"They don't give any indication of addresses anymore for security reasons but it just said that he was the husband of Pam.

"The confusion was caused as I am also Bill Jones and my wife was also Pam. So everyone naturally thought it was me.

"I have found the whole mix-up quite hilarious. I just keep telling people 'don't worry, I am still here.'

"The only difference was he was 87 and I am 85 but most people didn't know my exact age."

Bill, who has three children, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren, was widowed eight years ago.

Retired insurance worker Bill, discovered his namesake lived 15 miles away in Exeter but addresses are removed from the obit due to concerns of people being burgled.

He added: "I am well known in Tiverton, have lived here all my wife and was a councillor for a long time so everyone knows me. And for a while everyone thought I was dead.

"But after they get over the shock of realising I am still here I like to think they are relieved. It was an odd feeling though and the rumour spread quickly.

"It started as I am part of a senior citizen club in Haverton and my chairman lives in next road. She read the obit and told my neighbour 'have you heard about Bill? He died yesterday'

"She then phoned another friend who was part of a group of us that would go out for meals when we were able to and they had the shock of their lives.

"She phoned my number and I answered. She just said 'thank god, I thought you were gone.' I just said 'nope, I am still very much here.'

"Another person I know saw me coming up the other side of the road and looked me up and down and said 'core bugger, you gave me a fright, I thought you had passed away.'

"I have had a lot of phones calls from people at Heathcoat Cricket Club where I am a member as well since and it is always a pleasure to tell people I am still around.

"In the old day, the obituaries in a newspaper always contained an address, so it would have never have happened. But the press stopped printing them as so many people were getting burgled while funerals were happening.

“So Bill Jones dying in Alphington suddenly became Bill Jones in Tiverton and that's why we ended up in this situation."

Words: Tom Bevan, South West News Service

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