Sunday’s Obituary: William Calvin Street


An unwanted legacy in my family is that of mental illness and suicide. The obituaries no longer explicitly state that a family member has killed themselves but we know when it happens. It’s almost an open secret. I know all families have similar experiences, but it just seems to strike our family more. It does not discriminate between sex, age, or social status.

William Calvin Street was born 18 December 1897 in the Antioch community outside Ripley, Mississippi to James Anner George Street and Julia Ann Weatherly. His life seemed ordinary and as happy as one scratching a living from the earth could be. No family was immune from devastating loss and sadness and Calvin’s family was no exception. James and Julia lost two of their children around two years of age, Elmer in 1893 and Tolbert in 1906. Two other sons, Luther and Monroe, also committed suicide within months of each other in 1950.

No one really knows why Calvin decided to end his life; they can only make suppositions. All we know, as stated in the obituary, “It is said that some physical disability or defect had caused Mr. Street to become despondent to the point of taking his own life.” What could possibly have gone wrong with a twenty year old young man? No one knows or no one’s talking.

I hope Calvin found a measure of peace.


One thought on “Sunday’s Obituary: William Calvin Street

  1. I’m sorry that your family has been burdened by depression, a challenge that my family knows as well.
    It is interesting that in 1897 the newspaper was so open about the cause of death.
    The comment that Calvin was from “one of the best families” illustrates a lack of understanding of mental illness that persists today. It is a flaw in chemistry, not in character.


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