When comics fan Stephen Merrill passed away suddenly Feb. 12 at age 31, his family and friends didn't know the cause of death when it came time to write the obituary. So they made one up: an "uppercut from Batman."
According to WFTS Tampa Bay, the Lakeland, Florida, newspaper The Ledger won't publish an obituary without a cause of death, leaving Merrill's relatives to improvise.
“Everyone was starting to get a little tense," Merrill's close friend Brandon Moxam said. "We didn’t have a cause of death but we were told we had to have one. [...] I made a joke: Say the cause of death was an 'uppercut from Batman.'”
Merrill's family, fiancée and close friends began to laugh at the suggestion, and his father Larry made it official, saying,“Yeah, the cause of death was an uppercut from Batman.”
After a bit of convincing, the newspaper decided it was good enough to satisfy its long-standing policy.
“He would have been honored to have died by an uppercut from Batman,” Merrill's fiancée Stephanie Vella told the TV station.
The comic-book theme continued at the celebration of life, where Merrill's family and friends wore superhero shirts and Captain America's shield was formed out of flowers. The program included a quote from Marvel's The Avengers.
Merrill, of Winter Haven, Florida, was diagnosed with cancer in June 2013. He went into remission in December 2013, but the cancer returned in October. He underwent surgery later that fall, and had been scheduled to return to work on Monday at LEGOLAND Florida.