Man reveals true identity in obituary, instructs son to ‘avenge his death’

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN –  Aaron Joseph Purmort knew that he didn’t have long to live when he sat down with his wife to write his own obituary.  His wife Nora wrote in her blog, “I’ve never laughed and cried more in one sitting.”

The couple somehow managed to keep their humor intact as they crafted his final words to the world:

Photo: Startribune

Photo: Startribune

Purmort, Aaron Joseph age 35, died peacefully at home on November 25 after complications from a radioactive spider bite that led to years of crime-fighting and a years long battle with a nefarious criminal named Cancer, who has plagued our society for far too long. Civilians will recognize him best as Spider-Man, and thank him for his many years of service protecting our city. His family knew him only as a kind and mild-mannered Art Director, a designer of websites and t-shirts, and concert posters who always had the right cardigan and the right thing to say (even if it was wildly inappropriate). Aaron was known for his long, entertaining stories, which he loved to repeat often. In high school, he was in the band The Asparagus Children, which reached critical acclaim in the northern suburbs. As an adult, he graduated from the College of Visual Arts (which also died an untimely death recently) and worked in several agencies around Minneapolis, settling in as an Interactive Associate Creative Director at Colle + McVoy. Aaron was a comic book aficionado, a pop-culture encyclopedia and always the most fun person at any party. He is survived by his parents Bill and Kim Kuhlmeyer, father Mark Purmort (Patricia, Autumn, Aly), sisters Erika and Nicole, first wife Gwen Stefani, current wife Nora and their son Ralph, who will grow up to avenge his father’s untimely death.

Purmort was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011, and after years of fighting he lost his battle last week.  Nora described it as, “It wasn’t a war or a fight. Those things have rules. This was more like Aaron getting in the ring with the Mohammed Ali of cancers, and smiling for round after round after he got his teeth knocked out and his face rearranged.”

His wife calls her blog “My Husband’s Tumor,” but assures readers, “It’s not a cancer story, it’s a love story. With some cancer.”

The Purmorts’ story will be told as part of an A&E documentary.

Nora’s sister has also set up a crowdfunding page online for donations to help with Aaron’s medical and funeral expenses.  So far they have raised more than $100,000.



  • Craig

    Every time I see an article about a death, there is always a “fund site” started. is no one fiscally responsible anymore? Does no one prepare for serious ailments and death expenses, or is it just we’er at a point in society where we expect others to pay for our expenses?

    • evil ninja monkey (@evilrobert)

      Sooo. Do you have .. *does the math from last funeral* … about 12k to pay for the funeral itself, plus another 2-3k for cemetery fees, plus you’re gonna have to buy a plot if you don’t already have one? (just laying around naturally, since I mean. You make it sound so easy.) So now we’re up to something like 20k total. Unless you just want to go the burn and urn route, and don’t want any internment. Then you might get out of it alive for a couple grand.

    • Clark Kent

      At age 35 and after 3 years of cancer treatments, I’d expect his nest egg was tiny. Maybe it would be nice if you were empathetic instead of judgemental.

    • Shannon

      Sometimes the costs alone of taking care of the illness are prohibitive of preparing for death. But regardless, donate if you want to, don’t if you don’t want to.

    • MomToThree

      I don’t think anyone plans for Cancer. Cancer treatments are very expensive and so much of the cost is not covered by insurance. His wife could have been a stay at home mom and is now facing additional costs, etc. Without knowing the family’s situation, it’s best not to judge.

    • Heather

      The point of this article was to highlight how this family was able to keep their sense of humor and love intact while batteling a horrific disease. At 35 no matter how fiscally responsible, no one is planning to have to shell out hundreds of thousands to fight a rare and aggressive form of cancer or to have saved enough for your funeral yet. Most times these fund sites are set up to make it easier for friends and family to donate. No one is saying that you as a stranger have to give anything, however there are many people out there who are more than willing to lend a hand a help support this family through this traffic loss. To those who are helping this family, God bless. To those of you like Craig, who missed the entire point of the story, I pray that you never find yourself or a family member in such a position, although maybe that’s the only way you could ever begin to understand the pain and financial burden that this young, single mother is now facing.

      • (@OBITUARe)

        Well said Heather. The actual death and dying process can be a significant burden on families regardless of planning. One thing I learned after losing my own grandfather was that obituaries can actually be quite expensive. I had no idea until our family had to pay nearly $500 for one and while it was only a small fraction of the total cost it was still an added expense.

        In order to help families lessen this financial burden a team of people and myself pulled together to create This is a service that allows families to post obituaries for free and syndicate it to their social networks in seconds. We understand that people might still want to post newspaper obituaries, we just wanted to provide another option.

    • kathy

      Craig, circumstances are different for everyone. Who knows what their medical coverage was like and what they had to pay out of pocket? No one expects you to give to a total stranger, but if you love someone and know they will struggle with money due to illness and/or death, it is kind to help them when and where they need it most.

    • Ellen

      When you become sick with cancer and lose your job and insurance, or have no insurance, it’s hard to pay medical bills that can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A no frills funeral will cost $12K or more. Depending on which symptoms you present at a hospital ER, one overnight stay with tests can cost $10K or more. Do you have that kind of money handy?

    • Cate

      Gee Craig – do tell, how does one exactly plan for hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills from an unexpected brain cancer? Moreover, “nowadays” we pay exorbitant amounts for medical care – Nora and her husband were middle class at best, not millionaires. Any money they had saved went to pay for treatment that may have given Aaron extra years – to see his son be born, to pursue the life he planned with his wife, to pursue his own interests, to survive. Unfortunately, the treatment didn’t work and Aaron’s cancer came back. I REALLY REALLY recommend you read Nora’s blog – maybe you’ll be able to answer your own question.

    • Mike

      Craig, I find it hard to believe someone as fiscally responsible as you is even slightly prepared to deal with an unexpected and horrific battle with cancer. My father found out he had cancer at the age of 62 and being a successful businessman he was responsible, he planned and saved accordingly. After treatment and multiple surgeries, the cost out of pocket was over 250k. Not one penny was borrowed or funded from any source but his hard earned cash. At the age of 67 and with his cancer in remission he was forced to go back to work because the financial toll of fighting this disease is shattering. Planning to die from an unforeseen and unpredictable disease is no way to live and I hope you never find out that you can’t save enough in 2 life times to
      Have enough money to cover expenses and the cost of treatment, which just keeps going up every year so plan on having about 500k of disposable income if you ever have to deal with any late stage cancer.

    • Imasurvivor

      Craig, I was diagnosed with stage 3 brain cancer 3 years ago at age 30. My husband is a doctor and we still had to fundraise to help cover medical costs. Thankfully I live in a community that supports each otherand I’ve been well taken care ofand my treatments have worked. I had health insurance but still came away paying thousands in medical bills and hundreds in followup appointments to this day.

    • Dadwith Cancerhimself

      A nice, funny young husband and father dies, and a judgmental troll like you still walks the earth. Awesome.

      The difference is when he dies, people want to remember him, he has stories written about him, and his community cares enough to cover his family’s expenses and the future of his child. My guess…you’re just jealous.

    • Mare

      Having lost my husband who was the father of 3 young kids, age 38 after he went through a 3 year battle with colon cancer, I know that unless you are independently wealthy or have family with the means to help, there will be a huge financial toll on a family going through this. I was the income earner while he was ill and my business was still getting off the ground. I remember being at a social gathering and another woman, from a wealthy family, made a comment to the effect that women who went right back to work after having a child were “losers”. As it turned out, it was a good thing that I did since our family needed that income when he was diagnosed when our youngest was only a year old. I received some help which was much appreciated and used the funds for his headstone. I have no problem with the concept that others would try to help this family.

    • Gina Trueman

      Craig, you’re a douche. You should plan for an early death because it sounds like you’re bitter and perhaps evil so…. Um… I’m thinking Karma is going to bite your ass.

    • David Holt (@hiholto)

      Hey Craig… You broke Dave’s rule #1. Also, I really just wanted to tell you you’re a worthless dick. This is the second comment I’ve ever left on an internet forum. You were such a dick that I felt compelled. Have a nice remaining miserable few years, dick.

    • Jace

      Really? THAT’S what you took away from this story? So tell me….how much money do you have in your “untimely death due to a brain tumor” fund at this time? And how much money have you set aside in your “unexpected medical bills, loss of employment, etc et al, due to an unexpected catastrophic terminal illness” fund, exactly? And your funeral expense account? Oh, and did you also insure at the age of 35 (or presumably yourger based on your self righteous comment) yourself with the proper amount of life insurance to ensure you wife and toung children will be able to support themselves without your income fir the next 50 yrs, including college funds for said children? So what you’re stating here is that you have these accounts set up, equalling well into 7 figures in total all set and ready to go should you contract cancer tomorrow? Yeah, that’s whst I thought you hypocritical hipster smart-ass. Shut up about what you can’t possibly understand. You can be ignorant or arrogant simultaneously. Choose one. You don’t get to be both. Guess what? If you don’t want to contribute to help a young family who is trying to overcome a devastating emotional and financial loss then don’t. But shut the hell up and sit your pompous ass down before you hurt yourself falling off your high horse the 1st time tragedy befalls you and you dont haventhe proper fund set up to cover all your expenses…or will you just run to daddy to cover that tab. Leave people alone in their time of mourning. This is not the time or place for you to spout off your ignorance poorly disguised as an opinion.

    • Rudely

      Amen. Why be responsible to your family and buy life insurance when you can leave them financially dependent on crowd funding.

    • Kate

      This is the most selfish and heartless comment I have read in a while. If this article was about an able-bodied person sitting on their couch watching cable every day instead of working and still collecting welfare, I would understand your frustration , but in this case you just sound like an asshole.

    • Elena

      Most 35 year olds wouldn’t have enough, even if they saved, for funeral expenses. Besides, usually when they have funds for a younger adult, some of it goes to help the surviving spouse and children.

    • Deb

      No it’s at a point where anything medical costs more than an arm and a leg. Most people cannot afford to be slightly sick in the US let alone a major illness. It must be nice to be rich like you and not have to worry about.

    • Cooooo

      Craig…. i just typed all this info in on the comment board for the opportunity to call you a heartless prick. You obviously don’t know a f***ing thing about a f***ing thing. He spent all his money on pain meds and making up for the fact that he could no longer work. I might live the rest of my life sin just so i have a front row seat to you burning in hell.

    • Nelia Pitre

      No, Craig people are not fiscally irresponsible but it sounds like you may be out of touch with the cost of health care and I am speaking of the part the patient pays. Insurance is a joke because of the cost and they will only pay what they think is reasonable. Your benefits run out long before you walk your last mile. Visit a mortuary to price coffins and while you are there ask how much it cost to open a grave and speaking of graves have you priced a plot at the local cemetery and then subtract 250 dollars that Social Security will pay in death benefits. Oh yes and any children you might leave behind do you know what kind of money they will receive from the same Social Security. Please do your research before commenting.

      • freey

        so then he gets cremated to save money, like we did, and the wife works 2 jobs or get family help plus almost 2000 a mont in survivor benefits from ss survivor benefits for spouses w/ children..

    • Linda Bianco

      Do you have any idea how expensive cancer treatments are? Even with decent insurance you are talking tens of thousands or more. Craig, how much do you have put away towards a catastrophic illness?

    • freey

      couple of things, why is is cancer so special it warrants a tv show, 2nd/ why do they start a fund, they dont need the money, its wrong to beg, and the tv show is paying them lots of cash. 3/ what amount did their insurance deductible not pay? did he have kids and not buy life insurance, yet he could prewrite his obituary??

      • jenniferdipietro

        Umm which life insurance company is going to give a reasonable policy to a person who has cancer? Very few insurances in the US will cover 100% of cancer treatments. Do you know how much they made from a documentary? You seem pretty ignorant about how the way life works.

  • Jim

    I am glad they could keep a sense of humor during all of that. I have 4 kids and an amazing wife…and that would be a very hard thing think of…much less go thru.

  • Steve

    Actually, I think Craig makes a good point. And I don’t see any judgment he is making, just an interesting thing to think about. Nothing against this man or his family.

    • sean

      How was that a good point? The idea of a nest egg is obvious when it comes to things like car repairs or home improvements. Being in your 30s with brain cancer would leave you financially depleted. Even if he had managed to squirrel away 20k for his funeral there are still mountains of medical bills AND a friend to feed and clothe. Yes good point indeed. We should all be so lucky to put aside near 60k by the time we hit our mid 30s.

  • Birdie

    Prayers being sent to you Nora and Ralph and the rest of the family. So young to be taken away. May god walk beside you and wrap his arms aroundall

  • Donnita

    Very cute and I’m sure it helped your family to grieve and take a little bit of control in an uncontrolable situation. God bless your family and your little baby boy:)

  • Rich Possert Jr.

    This story had me smiling through tears, not just for him, but for those left behind. I was widowed by cancer 6 years ago this January. It was easily the most devastating thing I’ve ever known. Writing a blog like this is something I did for the countless people my wife touched in her short life, but it was also for me; a release of emotions that helped me cope with the impending doom of losing her. When I read the blog entry when he passed, that brought back memories of where I was when I wrote her dying entry in our blog. My late wife, Rachel, was and is, an angel, and she suffered from melanoma. That’s where I got the name of our blog, What a beautiful blog, and what a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing this!!!

  • Patricia murphy

    What a touching story. Although heartbreaking , it was beautiful . You both must have had a special friendship and love for eachother. God bless your family….. And the Angel that strokes your hair every night . As you drift off too sleep,, you will feel him.

  • Connie

    While some may not agree with Craig’s comments, we should not judge him and not call him names. It was his opinion. We are trying to stop bullying in this world, and name calling is bullying. This family is grieving, let’s keep the peace and not be mean to others who posted an opinion regardless of whether we agree or not. Please leave him be and try to see his point of view, not get mad at it, I am sure others feel the same way but, won’t say their opinion because they don’t want to be called names too.. God loves us all, if you want to donate, do it, if you don’t, don’t. I have so many medical problems and almost died of a blood clot this year, I for one have prepared for the end of life but, it doesn’t mean I will have that money when my time comes. Medical bills are through the roof, it can happen anytime when you least expect it and cost you so much money, my family can’t afford those expenses and i can’t guarantee I will have money left by then. It can happen to anyone anywhere and if you are not prepared, you are going to be screwed. It is not about being fiscally responsible, it is about being fiscally capable to do it and not everyone prepares for the end, I would like to think that they asked for donations because they need the help and not to just get a monetary gain.

  • Desiree

    Such a courageous man who sounds to me like he fought this tumor with laughs and humor. This made me cry as I relate it to my mother who fought that same fight, but just couldn’t win. God bless all of you. What a great story!

  • lauren

    Hi Craig,
    I think that we are at a place in society, with social media and all, where helping families in need is so simple now. By simple, I mean, what an amazing thing to write an article seen by thousands of people, and if each person donates even a dollar, what a huge help that would be for the family. Social media has brought alot of negative and positive to this world… me, these fund sites are a huge positive outcome of social media for the simple fact that 1 dollar from multiple people could stretch a long way. I dont know about you, but that make mmy heart feel very warm.

  • Sean F. Carey

    It is a truly rare and sad experience that you meet someone you know wouldbe an instant and true friend only after they have passed. Though I am sure Aaron’s comic book collection is no where near as cool or extensive as my own, my super powers obviously pale in comparison to this heroe’s. RIP Aaron

    • Sheila

      That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking about while everyone else is arguing over opinion. God bless this family.

  • A

    I usually do not comment on posts like this however ….
    How old are you Craig? Are you married? If so would your wife be ready to handle the hundreds of thousands of dollars concerning your medical care should you Get cancer? Throw a child in there to pay for that’s about 250,000 dollars to get said child to the age of 18.. Oh and add another 10000 in for a relatively inexpensive funeral. This gentleman probably has not had the privilege of working for the last few years. If you don’t feel compelled to donate then don’t but no one wants to read your degrading comments about a man who lost his life to a devastating disease that kills roughly 1500 people every day and how he should have been financially responsible.
    Heck we are paying for completely healthy capable adults to sit around and receive free healthcare and numerous other handouts (that you have no choice over that is justified to complain if you wish. Do not attack a dead mans family as if it is a get rich quick scheme…

  • pam

    Such a loss to family and friends but a tribute to a man who inspired us to write obituaries in a new and unique way.

  • rywe

    The obit is awesome as I suspect the deceased was. I remain shocked by the utter cluelessness on the part of many commenters…if you lack a sense of humor or basic human compassion keep that to yourself. Financial planning for the unimaginable? A different superpower must be needed as is a superhero who can effectively fight dumbassedness.

  • judy

    I lost my younger brother to cancer for years ago. Cancer is evil. This obituary is quite lovely. I am so sorry for your loss. He seems like a wonderful guy.

  • Cindy

    OMG! Could you be a little more sympathetic, she lost her husband, the baby lost his daddy. Some of you are just ignorant. If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all. Sending prayers out to the family, I also will say a prayer for the ignorant ones on here too!

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