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How a New York Writer Found Her Way to a Story About a South Oak Cliff Funeral Home

Eleanor Cummins reports this month on the Golden Gate Funeral Home.
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THE UNDERTAKER: Funeral home owner John Beckwith Jr. is also a radio show host, a peace officer, and a shooting instructor for the Dallas County Sheriff's Department.

This one’s about serendipity and how the universe does funny things to bring you stories in D Magazine.

Awhile back, I met a writer named Amal Ahmed for coffee. We talked about a job she’d recently left and what she was working on. Amal focuses much of her work on environmental issues, so when I asked if she might be interested in writing a story for us about the families suing Golden Gate Funeral Home for allegedly mishandling corpses and losing cremains, she demurred. “But you should talk to my friend Eleanor Cummins,” Amal said. “She has written about the funeral industry and knows all about how it works.”

This is where it got weird.

Last year, while editing a story about why Dallas should tear down its convention center, I stumbled across a story set in Nashville, Tennessee’s convention center. It was about the National Funeral Directors Association annual expo. It was a great piece of writing and reporting that had me rapt from the opening paragraph. And it was written by Eleanor Cummins, a science journalist and adjunct assistant professor at New York University.

Eleanor came to Dallas to report the Golden Gate story, which was published in the June issue of D Magazine and went online today. The number of lawsuits filed against the funeral home has now climbed to 25. The claims made by the grieving families are heartbreaking, and Eleanor handled them with deep compassion. I’d like to thank the folks who did interviews for wading back into their traumas. Their stories make for a tough read in places, but I think you’ll find the piece, “The Worst Part About Dying,” is worth your time.

It is online today.

(Note: this post was first published with a headline that put Golden Gate in South Dallas. Apologies.)


Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…

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