Man who published early obituary dies after event celebrating his life

Bob Eleveld, who died days after publishing an early obituary and inviting friends and family to an event celebrating his life

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A Michigan lawyer and Republican activist has died, a day after hundreds of people responded to his published invitation to attend an open house to celebrate his life. 

Bob Eleveld died Sunday at age 80. He was too ill from cancer to attend the event Saturday at a Grand Rapids-area golf club. Guests ate roast beef and shrimp and wrote messages that were delivered to Eleveld by family members. 

His partner, Michelle McIsaac, says the reception fulfilled Eleveld’s wishes. “He went out with a bang,” she said.

“Long before he had cancer, he would always say, ‘Don’t throw a funeral for me. Have a party,’” his daughter Kerry Eleveld told CBS affiliate WLNS-TV after the obituary gained national attention. She said after the event there was an “outpouring of love” in the room. 

On March 12, Eleveld published his obituary and announced the open-house celebration in The Grand Rapids Press. His family called it a “no-bit” because he was still alive.

“Hel-’LO’! This is Bob Eleveld,” his obituary began. “As I write this notice, I am still with you, although my doctors have informed me that this status will change in the near future. I have decided, however, to eschew the normal process of others celebrating my life after I die and, instead, would like to celebrate your lives with me.”

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Eleveld published his own obituary in the Grand Rapids Press

WLNS-TV