Why There Should Be A Public Memorial For Steve Jobs [Opinion]

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The growing memorial to Steve Jobs at Apple's San Francisco store on Thursday evening. Photo: Leander Kahney

Update: There’s a small private funeral for Jobs today, followed by a memorial for Apple’s staff, according to reports.

Apple still hasn’t released any details about Steve Jobs’ funeral. It’s likely to be a small private affair, in Steve Jobs’ style.

But the outpouring of tributes at Apple’s retail stores shows the need for a public memorial. And someone like Tim Cook needs to take the reins to arrange it.


All over the world, Apple fans are laying wreaths, candles and written tributes at Apple’s Stores. The outpouring of grief is unusual for any public figure, and is unprecedented for a business leader.

But Jobs was always much more than just a business leader. He’s a cultural figure; and a cultural figure of massive import. Not many people get to change the world. But Jobs did, and several times.

He also captured our hearts. There’s a lot of affection for Steve Jobs, even love. Just look over the tributes here on the site and many others. Over the last few days, hundreds of readers have expressed profound grief over his passing.

Someone of Jobs stature should not be laid to rest quietly and privately. There’s a public need to recognize his extraordinary accomplishments.

It need not be a gaudy affair. It could be dignified and respectful, with eulogies and tributes from friends, colleagues and family.

I would be very moved to see Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Bono and other public figures deliver memorials.

Who would arrange it? I can’t imagine Apple’s PR dept. could manage it (I sent the PR dept an email, but haven’t heard back). Perhaps his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, is working on something. To me, the best candidate is Tim Cook.

I call on Tim Cook to arrange a public memorial for Steve Jobs. It could be held after a private family funeral, perhaps like Michael Jackson’s memorial in 2009.

Jobs was a very private man. He lived quietly and modestly, shunning the spotlight and public events, except when it came time to sell Apple’s latest product. In death, an exception should be made.

We have a need to express our grief. Funerals and memorials are a natural part of the grief process, and it shouldn’t be denied.