In several recent cases where my friends have died and were prominent enough to warrant an obituary, the surviving spouse or family determined what was in the obituary.
In one case, a woman, the obituary focused entirely on her activities after her marriage late in life because that is what his family knew. In fact many of her most important contributions occurred long before she married. Her name was Annie Styron. She was the editor and major influence on the Briarpatch Review and a Simple Living organization called Mint. She also was a co-founder of Friends of the River.
In another case, Ernest Chick Callenbach, his obituaries focused on his environmental writing and his work on the Film Quarterly. Chick wrote several books on Simple Living and was an early hero in that field. His wife was not a simple liver. Chick also joined me in co-authoring A Citizen Legislature. The campaign to create random selection of legislators. We jointly did several public experiments on the idea and Chick was an active promoter. Random selection of legislators is an idea that is currently coming of age and has been successful in the California redistricting for 2012.
I have written obituaries for a number of friends, some while they are alive. It is my hope and their hope that the obituaries will be adequately inclusive of their contributions.