Gail Armstrong, center, in a 2017 family photograph with her daughters Amanda Allen, left, and Tiffany Allen Baynard as they hold lobsters during a visit with their mother in Augusta. Armstrong died last week at 61. Photo courtesy of Tiffany Allen Baynard

AUGUSTA — Gail Armstrong of Augusta did not exactly write her colorful first-person obituary before her sudden death last week.

Her two daughters wrote it, and they know their mother would be laughing along with them at a memoriam that aims to capture the spirit of a person who relished in the lighter side of life.

In the obituary, Armstrong said she has joined the “Stiffs Section” of the newspaper that was her lifelong reading passion, after dying from “complications with illness, having a little too much fun earlier in life, and fatigue from dealing with all the humorless and overly sensitive people in this world today.”

The obituary includes that Armstrong will “finally have the smoking hot body I always wanted. … I have been cremated. My ashes will be spread in the water in various locations, and I will be swimming all over the world.”

Armstrong, 61, died Friday and had her first-person obituary published Wednesday in the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, immediately drawing statewide attention from print and online readers.

By Wednesday afternoon, the obituary had drawn thousands of online page views and been seen more than 10,000 times by Facebook users.


Armstrong’s daughters — Tiffany Allen Baynard, 39, and Amanda Allen, 40 — said in an interview Wednesday that while their mother did not write the obituary, they drew upon her wishes and humor.

“It made a sad situation a bit more happy and was a sending off with positive vibes, which is really what she would want,” Allen Baynard said. “I think she’s laughing right now at the reaction people are getting to it.”

Armstrong grew up and lived her entire life in Augusta, having recently been transferred to the Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, where she died with her daughters by her side. She was to be cremated with Casper Funeral & Cremation Services in Boston.

Gail Armstrong’s daughters, who now live in Charlotte, North Carolina, said they began having end-of-life conversations with their mother about four years ago, when Armstrong was diagnosed with liver disease. Pneumonia, failing kidneys and an infection also factored into her sudden death, the daughters said.

While talking about death can be difficult, approaching the topic with laughter and lightness made the process easier, they said. Their mother always encouraged them “not to take anything too seriously.”

“We’ve had conversations with her before and we talked about what she would want, that she would be cremated and she wanted an obituary that was funny. She did pass on a little abruptly, so it wasn’t like we walked through all of this with her,” Allen Baynard said. “It was hard to write, but we were hoping to make people laugh while they cry. This is totally her sense of humor.”


“Most will remember me by my sarcastic comments and inappropriate jokes,” Armstrong’s obituary reads. “I can make light of any situation even up to my last days. I just can’t help myself!”

Armstrong was fond of coming up with nicknames for people and things, such as referring to her “mannequin legs” while she was at a long-term care facility, her daughters said.

Armstrong also “enjoyed instigating people on Facebook,” which Amanda Allen said was testament to her mother’s being a prankster. Even in the days before the internet, Amanda Allen said, Armstrong would send random magazine subscriptions to friends just to get a rise out of them.

Armstrong’s hobbies included everything to do with water — swimming and going to the beach — and she loved lobster, music, dogs and her new grandson.

Armstrong also loved reading the daily obituaries in the Kennebec Journal.

“She liked to see what peoples’ lives were like,” Allen Baynard said. “We certainly couldn’t let hers go in the paper without a sense of humor. That is how her tone would be, and it’s how she would write this. She was just a really funny person.”

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