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Man writes brutally honest obituary for estranged father as part of his emotional healing

Obituaries are usually filled with odes of love and a complimentary recount of the departed’s life, but this one published about an estranged father in The Florida Times-Union paints a different picture.

Larry Pfaff, Jr., 58, wrote a no holds barred obit for his late father who passed away in June at 81 years-old.

As much as he wanted to pen something positive about his old man, Larry had few fond memories with him, if at all.

The piece read:

“[Pfaff] is survived by his three children, no four. Oops, five children. Well as of 2022 we believe there is one more that we know about, but there could be more. His love was abundant when it came to himself, but for his children it was limited. From a young age, he was a ladies’ man and an abusive alcoholic, solidifying his commitment to both with the path of destruction he left behind, damaging his adult children, and leaving them broken.”

The write-up said that his estranged father spent over two decades working for the New York Police Department, but his long stint with the force was also tainted with negligence due to his alcohol addiction.

According to Larry, his father’s Commanding Officer took away his gun and badge and replaced them with a broom until “he could get his act together.”

Larry also wrote that his father’s “hobbies” included “abusing his first wife.”

“He loved to start projects but never followed through on any of them. He enjoyed the life of a bar fly for many years and had a quaint little living space, studio, above his favorite hole in the wall, the club Nashville,” he wrote.

Larry told the Times-Union that his dad left the family when he was 9 and had several more children with different women, but he abandoned them as well. In fact, he was only able to connect with many of his siblings by doing DNA research.

“He possesses no redeeming qualities for his children, including the ones he knew, and the ‘ones he knew about,'” the obit read.

Larry, who last saw his father about 30 years ago, actually started writing the obituary a year ago while his dad was still alive, as “a way for me to really cleanse myself and let that part of my life go.” He sat on it until his father passed away on June 27.

“All the years of crap I went through with him when he was in my life and then not being in my life, hearing stories of what he would tell other people, finding out about my [half] brothers and sisters, I wanted to figure out a way to get past it,” Larry said.

Larry hid away what he had written for several months. After his half-brother told him their estranged father had died, he submitted the obituary to The Times-Union for publication.

His sister, Carolyn Compton, grew up in the same household as him and confirmed Larry’s account of their dad.

“We all experienced a real traumatic childhood … and no difference or change in adult life,” she said. “I can’t celebrate.”

“It will be challenging to miss Lawrence Sr. because he was narcissistic,” Larry continued in the obit. “But his death “proves that evil does eventually die and it marks a time of healing, which will allow his children to get the closure they deserve.”

Larry said he has received messages from people who resonated with his story. Some even thanked him for his honesty about his deceased father.

“I got a call from somebody in St. Augustine that found me and wanted to thank me for posting that because, you know, they had a similar life, and they wanted to be able to do something similar to help heal,” he said. “They just thanked me for, you know, the honesty.”

But Gannett, the company that owns the Times-Union, isn’t too thrilled with the write-up.

A company spokesperson said, “We regrettably published an obituary that did not adhere to our guidelines and we are looking into the matter further. We regret any distress this may have caused.”

However, the “how to submit” obituaries page on the newspaper’s website doesn’t mention any guidelines. Larry said he saw none.

But according to the website, the company does “reserve the right to edit, refuse, reject any content before final approval.”

Before submitting the obituary, Larry warned his family about it and prepared for what he expected to be a negative response. But there were none.

Writing those words and seeing them in the paper was a cathartic experience for Larry.

“The closure has brought me much happiness. I feel so free from the chains of that prison,” he said.

Because of his experience, Larry promised he wouldn’t be the kind of father he had, but his “brokenness” caused him to fail—he didn’t know how to be a parent. As part of his healing process, he apologized to his five children.

It takes courage to tell your “truth,” and that’s exactly what this man did. We hope that Larry and his siblings continue on the path to their healing. Click on the video below learn more about this story.

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Wednesday 26th of October 2022

It’s a start for him to begin to heal. I’m sorry he had to endure what he did, but he also takes ownership of his own shortcomings with his own children. In all of his trauma he still found a way to make something positive for his family. Many blessings.

Saturday 17th of September 2022

Sorry but I don’t think Larry will find it as cathartic as he expects. I would not expect a lot of closure for him ,either. That is too optimistic. A lifetime of abuse and disappointments are not that easily erased or made better.

Cynthia Durbin

Thursday 4th of August 2022

I applaud him for doing this and wish I had thought of this for both my mother and father. Like his father, mine spread his seed far and wide. He abandoned the child from his first marriage, abandoned his four children from his second marriage (my mom) and then abandoned his third family and a half sister I didn't even know I had until he died!! We're pretty sure there are more half siblings out there but I personally have never done a search and just don't care to know. I did not even get to know my dad until I was in my early twenties because he abandoned us when I was about 3. When he died he left nothing to his biological children and everything to a step child {a grown woman} from his 5th marriage!! We we all in total disbelief, but considering his selfishness I guess we shouldn't have been.


Wednesday 3rd of August 2022

Amen. My siblings and I also had a traumatic childhood and when our mother died we had no words for the minister to say, we all sat quiet.

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