Viral first-person obituary actually written by friends

Local plastic surgeon actually wrote and said much of what his friends put together
Plastic surgeon, Dr. Thomas Flanigan, had a first-person obituary that went viral. Turns out,...
Plastic surgeon, Dr. Thomas Flanigan, had a first-person obituary that went viral. Turns out, he didn't technically write it.(Flanigan Family)
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 11:22 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - His farewell message was written in the first person, published as his obituary. It went viral and ended up in The New York Post and The Independent UK.

Turns out, not all the words were written by him.

“When we wrote the obituary, we felt that it would be that kind of final chapter,” said Dan Forthoffer, Tom’s longtime friend and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brother. “We made sure that everything in the letter was true … written in the first person because he always wrote his notes in the first person. We enjoyed them.”

The notes were Dr. Flanigan’s annual New Year’s Eve letters he sent to friends and family each year. Those friends decided to cull together much of what Tom wrote and turn it into his farewell address.

“We were very selective in making sure the sentences we had in it were sentences that he actually would have said or did actually say,” added Fortfoffer.

You can read Dr. Flanigan’s obituary below and by clicking here.

Thomas Lee Flanigan

10/31/1972 - 04/27/2021

Well, that's it. I have completed my shift as the great American cliché. In the spirit of what turned out to be my last New Year's letter, my wild and crazy life has again taken a new, unexpected turn with my shocking and unexpected, yet fabulous, exit. Yes, I have joined the likes of Princess Diana, John Belushi, and Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter in leaving while still at the top of my game as an iconic superhero who seemed almost too good to be true.

It was a good run. No, a great run, but I can't take all the credit. Northern Michigan University and my Lambda Chi Alpha brothers, Wayne State University Medical School, The United States Army, colleagues, various celebrities, random cartoon characters, people who make memes, Russians and other friends and family all contributed. As you know, my wife, Amy, and my kids Joey (14), Evelyn (13), and Sylvia (10) are the absolute best. Please take good care of them like the priceless treasures they are.

I will admit that I originally got married for the husband jokes and had kids for the dad jokes. It did not disappoint. The jokes I mean, but Amy and the kids were pretty good too. Going to school events, dance competitions, and eight zillion hockey practices at the crack of dawn really makes a man's life worthwhile. I also saw some other delightful things in my time here - Hawaiian volcanoes, Egyptian pyramids, and even the advent of air fryers. I will say, it was magical, all of it.

In case you've heard the rumors, I did dabble in a few other things along the way during my 48 years, like serving my country in combat on two separate tours, earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and saving countless lives as an accomplished surgeon and MD. Oh, there was also that whole, fulfilling, "cosmetic and reconstructive surgery" stint too. Yada, yada, yada. Let's talk about my real legacy, though...The dad jokes, the New Year's letters, the Facebook memes. What was I to this world if not a beacon of light shining upon those who couldn't scan the internet for their own hilarious and entertaining comic relief? I guess what I am trying to say is that you're welcome and you owe me big time.

I know it's impossible to believe, but I, the Ginger God of Surgery and Shenanigans, have fought my last cow (you're welcome Tim) and ridden off into the glorious sunset after re-enlisting with a new unit. Due to the unknown and cosmic nature of my next mission, this will be our last communication. It will self-destruct in five minutes. My whereabouts are now top secret, but let's just say I have made some new friends by the names of Elvis and Kenny. The Church of Tom is closed for business, but please continue to worship me, light candles, and send money. You know the deal.

Visitation will be held from 12:00 – 8:00 on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at Ansberg-West Funeral Home located at 3000 W Sylvania Ave, Toledo, Ohio. A private life celebration will be held for family on Friday, May 7, 2021.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the “Flanigan Children Education” account located at Signature Bank. Condolences for Tom’s family may be expressed online at

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