Son speaks out about bitter obituary to his Minnesotan mother

Jay Dehmalo said he and his sister wanted to get the last word.
Publish date:

The son who wrote the now viral obituary to his late Minnesotan mother has explained his reasons behind the decision.

The bitter tribute to 80-year-old Kathleen Dehmlow following her death was printed in the Redwood Falls Gazette this week, which then went viral and was shared around the globe.

"She will not be missed by Gina and Jay," it concluded, "and they understand that this world is a better place without her."

The reason for their anger at their mother is also explained in the obit, revealing she had an affair with her husband's brother and apparently abandoned her two children, the aforementioned Gina and Jay.

In the days after it became global news, son Jay Dehmalo was contacted by the Daily Mail in London, to whom he explained why he and his sister felt the need to publish the obituary.

Dehmalo, a 58-year-old Army veteran and former pro boxer now living in Ohio, told the newspaper that they had reservations about writing the obituary, but that they felt it helped them.

"We wanted to finally get the last word," he said.

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A dysfunctional family

Kathleen Dehmlow left Gina and Jay after falling pregnant to their father's brother, Lyle.

Dehmalo, who changed his last name to escape his past, told the newspaper neither she or their father, Dennis, were good parents, saying they liked to "drink and party."

They were ultimately raised by their grandparents, Joseph and Gertrude Schunk, of whom they were both very fond.

"You can't believe the dysfunction of the family," he said.

This dysfunction is explained in further detail by Dehmalo in the Daily Mail piece,  which you can read here, including admissions that he and his sister were "bad kids at times," with his sister later running into trouble with the law as an adult.

Meanwhile he describes recriminations between other relatives that have lasted decades.

"You could write it all down in a book or turn it into a movie and people wouldn't believe what we went through," he added.

While the facts of the obituary were broadly confirmed by a Dehmlow relative who spoke to the Star Tribune, they said "there is a lot of stuff that is missing."

“She made a mistake 60 years ago, but who hasn’t?” they told the newspaper. “Has she regretted it over the years? Yes."

The obituary, which appeared in print initially, has since been removed from the Redwood Falls Gazette website and

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