Latham man's obituary urges smokers to quit while they can

February 18, 2019 10:10 PM

LATHAM - "A cautionary tale," that's how Geoff Turner's widow Josie describes the obituary he wrote for himself.

Turner, 66, of Latham died last Wednesday. He wrote his obituary in November when he was diagnosed with lung cancer.


In that obituary Turner said smoking on and off over the course of four decades did "nothing more than waste money, separate me from my family, and eventually destroyed my body."

His dying wish was to encourage smokers to get the help he couldn't bring himself to ask for.

"The moral of this story - don't be an idiot, if you're a smoker - quit - now - your life depends on it and those that you love depend on your life,” Turner wrote.

Josie is hopeful people will listen.

“If his words can impact one person to put out a cigarette and live a healthier life then that is worth it to me, I hope that happens,” Josie said.

Josie said her husband tried to quit smoking on his own several times throughout their 41 year marriage, but unfortunately he wasn't able to stop for good. Geoff’s health deteriorated quickly after he was diagnosed with stage 4 adenocarcinoma last fall.

"It was like one thing after another so it did progress very quickly we were expecting at least a year and we didn't get it but you just never know,” Josie said. “So if he had waited to write that obituary we wouldn't have had the chance to read it so I guess it's good that he did it when he did it."

Josie said Geoff also hoped to make an impact in the medical field. That's why he decided to donate his body to Albany Medical College for research.

"The hope is that by his gift and by his words it will help the doctors understand better what this cancer did to his body and also his words may help someone else have a second thought about what they might be doing,” Josie said.

An expert at Capital District Tobacco Free Coalition said more personal messages, like Geoff's, can be extremely effective in motivating people to quit.

"It's been shown that those ads had a great impact on people calling quit lines and trying to quit,” Capital District Tobacco Free Coalition Community Engagement Coordinator Jeanie Orr said. “So I would imagine that this would also have that kind of impact and I hope so because it's really difficult for people to see that tobacco use is still a big problem. A lot of people think 'Oh it's solved everyone knows smoking is bad,' yes he knew that smoking was bad and yet he had a really difficult time quitting."

Geoff ended his obit with these words, "Remember, life is good - don't let it go up in smoke."

In lieu of flowers, Geoff asked that donations be made to the American Cancer Society or a children's charity.

If you or someone you know needs help quitting you can call the New York State Smoker's Quitline at 1-866-NY- QUITS or visit


Emily Burkhard

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