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January 2016




ICCFA Annual Convention & Expo

Keynote Speakers and
30+ Breakout sessions
including cemetery tour
Burial programs

information begins on page 90
Registration form: page 112
With a tiny staff plus
volunteers, Oakwood
draws in the community
Spring Grove’s new bid
for cremation clientele
Casual pizza & preneed
approach works for Hoff
Lemasters on the basics
of proper disinterments
How funeral directors
can help family, friends
in cases of suicide
What people ask the
Doyenne of Death
Becoming aware of how
differences affect us
New Isard column:
Cemetery Impossible
Van Beck on trust

Pontem AD
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Worsham AD
page 115 (C3)

Funeral Home Gifts AD
page 116 (C4)

Eickhof AD
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StoneMor AD
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LP Bronze AD
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J ANUARY 2 0 1 6 T a b l e o f c o n t e n t s
International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association ®:
Promoting consumer choices, prearrangement and open competition
Providing exceptional education, networking and legislative guidance and support
to progressive cemetery, funeral and cremation professionals worldwide
16 m a n a g e m e n t

The right way to move Mom: Five basic steps to follow in any disinterment No one likes to do disinterments, but some people make the
experience worse, and create liability, by not taking the steps needed
to make things run as smoothly as possible. by Poul Lemasters, Esq.

Top photo, clothes by Raleigh, North
Carolina, designer Mia Pitillo, inpired by
Historic Oakwood Cemetery. Photo by
Jim Clark Stevenson. Story, page 36.
Bottom photo, Spring Grove Cemetery’s
new cremation garden. Story, page 22.
The ICCFA convention program begins
on page 90. Registration form, page 112.

22 m a n a g e m e n t / c r e m at i o n

10 President’s Letter
Value, like beauty,
is in the eye of the beholder
by Darin Drabing

28 p r e n e e d s a l e s

12 Washington Report
Survey finds most funeral homes
disclose more than FTC requires
by Robert M. Fells, Esq.
14 Letter to the Editor
Ramsey Creek Preserve’s Campbell
disputes negative comments about
natural/conservation burial grounds
by Dr. Billy Campbell
16 Meet Your Association Leaders
Allen Dave, Allen Dave Funeral
Abbie Brammer Quiocho, Gibraltar
Yvan Rodrigue, Celebris
70 Supply Line
78 Update
89 New Members
1 13 Calendar
1 13 Classifieds
1 14 Ad Index

Spring Grove’s new development puts cremation front and center
Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum does not lack for cremation
options. It offers just about everything, and thousands of cremation
spaces are still available. But it recently opened a major new cremation
development in order to expand the options for cremation families.
interview of Gary Freytag, CCFE, by Susan Loving
Pizza & preplanning prove to be a winning combination How do you
convince people to come to your funeral home to hear about the benefits
of preplanning? Hoff Funeral has found success hosting informal events
where good information is served along with pizza and drinks.
interview of Sydney Smith by Susan Loving

36 C o m m u n i t y o u t r e a c h

Oakwood’s past the key to its future as a place to visit, learn, remember
Historic Oakwood Cemetery Executive Director Robin Simonton
doesn’t have a sales or marketing staff. What she does have is a lot of
ideas, a dedicated grounds crew and knowledgeable volunteers. Turns
out, that’s enough. interview of Robin Simonton by Susan Loving

50 s e r v i c e t o fa m i l i e s

Funeral staff as first responders: Helping families & friends when
a loved one has died by suicide All grieving family members must be
handled with compassion and care, but the families of those who have
died of suicide require funeral directors and other funeral home staff
to take extra care with how they respond to and help the survivors.
by Tanya Scotece, CFSP, Ph.D., Amanda LeBlanc, MA, and
Stephen Roggenbaum, MA

58 c o m m u n i t y o u t r e a c h

Questions people ask about death—and death care When you
carve out a career for yourself as an expert about death, you’re going
to get some interesting questions from the public, and you’d better
have some answers ready. by Gail Rubin, CT, CC

64 m a n a g e m e n t

Cemetery Impossible: Does this cemetery need more developed


ICCFA Magazine

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Homesteaders AD
page 7

ICCFA news
84 Wide World of Sales

Register for the 2016 Sales Olympics
before it’s too late!
Thank you to our sponsors
Cremation certification programs
scheduled for 2016
2016 cremation training schedule
HURRY: 2016 music license
prices increase February 1
Introducing the ICCFA
Business Insurance Program
New ICCFA member benefit:
Budget truck rental discount
Annual Meeting of Members
Thursday, April 14



ICCFA calendar
2016 Wide World of Sales
January 13-15
Monte Carlo Resort & Casino,
Las Vegas, Nevada
2016 Annual Convention
& Exposition
April 13-16
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
& Hilton New Orleans Riverside,
New Orleans, Louisiana Co-Chairs:
Jay Dodds, CFSP, and Lee Longino
2016 ICCFA University
July 22-27 Fogelman Conference
Center, Memphis, Tennessee
Chancellor:Jeff Kidwiler, CCE, CSE
• Web Expo directory of suppliers and
• Association directory
• Industry event calendar

Cremation Coaching Center


• Links to news and feature stories from all over
the world

ICCFA Magazine


property, or a better preneed sales program? Cemeteries, even
those that benefit from combination ownership, face more challenges
than ever these days. Starting in this issue, Dan Isard and his team
will be providing cemeterians with options, advice and answers
in this column. by Dan Isard, MSFS
67 m a n a g e m e n t

Becoming aware of differences so we can work to bridge them
Being aware that our social and cultural backgrounds affect our
views is the first step to improving our interactions with others.
by Shun Newbern, MS, CFSP

68 P r o f e s s i o n a l d e v e l o p m e n t

The keys to service: Trust As funeral and cemetery professionals,
we need to establish trust and respect between ourselves and our client
families. Merely saying “you can trust me” isn’t the way to do it.
by Todd W. Van Beck, CFuE

90 C o n t i n u i n g E d u c at i o n

Program for the ICCFA 2016 Convention & Exposition, April 13-16,

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center & Hilton New Orleans Riverside
90 Expo hours

90 Special event: New Orleans Second Line to open the expo

91 General session keynote speakers Ken Blanchard, John Best,
Jeannine English & Ryan Estis
92 Special events: Annual Meeting of Members;
Educational Foundation Reception; Memorial Service;
KIP Awards Presentation; Prayer Breakfast; First-Timers Reception;
State Association Leadership Luncheon; Closing Reception & Dinner
94 Breakout sessions: Mary LaCoste; Hospice; Government & legal panel

Special event: Funeral home & cemeteries tour

Hotel reservation information
96 Cremation Central Live!

98 Management: Staff retention; Growing your business; Managing
your portfolio; Gauging business health; Business strategy
100 Cemetery management: Cremation garden development; Small-town

cemetery management; Using technology; Cemetery development;
Sustainable cemeteries
102 Funeral service management: Legacy protection; Adding pet-loss

services; Trauma & healing; Veterans benefits; Van Beck on the
funerals of Lincoln & Davis
104 Sales & marketing: Staying relevant; Lead-generation; Funeral &

cemetery marketing; Becoming the talk of the town; Preneed
106 Technology: Enhancing websites; Technology trends; Lead generation

ICCFA convention corporate partners
108 Green services: Green burial prep; Green burial families;

Restoration in a hybrid cemetery
110 PLPA educational track: Interior design; Succession planning;

Growing revenue; Shaping the future; Roundtable
Special events: PLPA Reception; 2nd Annual Pet Memorial Service
112 Convention registration form

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page 9

President’s Letter
President Darin
B. Drabing
➤Drabing is president

and CEO of Forest Lawn
Memorial-Parks &

n To apply for ICCFA

➤ Download an application
at, or
➤ Call 1.800.645.7700


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and friend
“ICCFA Staff.”

bringing our
profession together

APRIL 13-16, 2016


ICCFA Magazine

Value, like beauty,
is in the eye of the beholder


eople see the world through many different
lenses. I believe that’s what makes life so
interesting. From an ever-evolving world
stage filled with geopolitical posturing and
military actions to passionate restaurant reviews
and allegiances built through binge-watching
the newest television series, our society has no
shortage of viewpoints and an ever-increasing
social media platform from which to express
We are an opinionated bunch, that’s for sure.
And, more often than not, we tend to see things
differently. As an old friend often reminds me:
“That’s why God made vanilla, chocolate and
Those in our profession see the world from
a broad perspective as well, especially when it
comes to deciding where we spend our time on
professional development and trade association
participation. As with ice cream flavors, we have
many choices.
We all have a certain appreciation for various
aspects of a particular trade association that drive
us to make the decision to participate—something
that draws us in, a value proposition.
Maybe it’s the access to new vendors through
a trade show or exposition hall.
Perhaps it’s an educational forum that satisfies
one’s appetite for lifelong learning or the impor­
tance of legislative advocacy on issues that are
aligned with your beliefs.
It could be something as simple as the
comraderie we experience when we see old
friends at an annual meeting.
Or, maybe you haven’t really questioned why
you belong; you simply renew a membership
established by a previous generation.
Whatever the reasons, those who actively
participate in the ICCFA find value in their
membership, as do I.
The ICCFA, like no other association, provides
a cavalcade of experiences where its members
receive a phenomenal return on their investment.
Whether it’s summer’s ICCFA University in
Memphis, the Fall Management Conference,
cremation training seminars held throughout the
year across the country, the Annual Convention
& Exposition or the Wide World of Sales
Conference in Las Vegas in January, there awaits
an abundance of valuable experiences for our
members to engage in.

The ICCFA, like no other
association, provides a cavalcade
of experiences where its members
receive a phenomenal return
on their investment.
These meetings are only a fraction of what the
ICCFA offers, including the tremendous value
we receive in free access to tax, cremation and
labor law attorneys; complimentary Funeral Rule
compliance reviews; music licensing; discount
programs; and so much more.
I find great value in all that’s available to me
as a member of the ICCFA. However, if you’re
not a member, or you have never attended an
ICCFA event before and are wondering where
you should start, I have a suggestion.
Our co-chairs, Jay Dodds and Lee Longino,
are finalizing the details for our Annual
Convention & Exposition in New Orleans, and
they have put together an impressive cast of
keynote speakers you won’t want to miss.
With a world-class exposition hall providing
access to countless vendors, including many firsttime exibitors, this is your opportunity to explore
new products and services and reconnect with
your current suppliers.
The ICCFA Annual Convention & Exposition
is also the “go-to” place for continuing education
where you can choose from a variety of indivi­
dual tracks including cremation, funeral home
manage­ment, cemetery operations and pet loss
(just to name a few), or you could jump around
among them to satisfy your interests.
It’s also the place to go to gain the inside
scoop on the legislative issues at the federal and
state levels that affect your business and our
profession. All that, and you get the opportunity
to visit with old friends, meet new ones and enjoy
the great city of New Orleans.
Food, fun, friends and a focus on funeral
service with a full lineup of fascinating speakers,
all in an exciting city, sound like a recipe for
success to me.
Come join me in New Orleans and experience
the value of the ICCFA for yourself. Our 2016
Annual Convention & Exposition is definitely
worth the price of admission and will serve as
your gateway to all that is the ICCFA!
“Like” the ICCFA on Facebook & friend “ICCFA Staff ”


We are putting the next generation in the driver’s seat. ICCFA understands the
importance of developing the next generation of leaders for our industry. We
are dedicated to engaging and encouraging future progressive leadership.
As part of our commitment to the future, we have a Next Generation Committee
that offers NextGen networking events, scholarships to ICCFA educational
events, specialty breakout sessions at our annual convention, and a Facebook
community dedicated to your education and career development. Also, ICCFA
University is especially great for bringing newcomers to our profession
up-to-speed quickly.
Join us and get your first year of membership for only $245.

Membership That Matters.

Washington Report
by ICCFA General
Counsel Robert M.
Fells, Esq.
ext. 1212
direct line:
➤Fells is
ICCFA executive
director and general counsel,
responsible for maintaining and
improving relationships with
federal and state government
agencies, the news media,
consumer organizations and
related trade associations.

More from this author,
about this subject
➤Funeral Radio. ICCFA
General Counsel Robert Fells,
Esq., talks about legal and
legislative issues affecting
funeral, cemetery and
cremation businesses, including the FCA/CFA survey, at
More resources
➤Wireless. ICCFA members,
send us your email address
and we’ll send you our biweekly electronic newsletter full
of breaking news.

Survey finds most funeral homes
disclose more than FTC requires


ecently, the Funeral Consumer Alliance
(FCA) and the Consumer Federation
of America (CFA) published a survey
of funeral home prices in 10 U.S. metropolitan
areas. FCA/CFA randomly selected 15 funeral
homes in 10 areas: Atlanta, Georgia; Denver,
Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; Mercer County,
New Jersey; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota;
Orange County, California; Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington; Tucson,
Arizona; and Washington, D.C.
According to a press release, each funeral
home selected had a website; the survey was
meant to determine how many posted their prices
on their websites. The survey also was designed
to see how many of these funeral homes provided
price information by email when contacted by
email. Under the FTC Funeral Rule, providers
have never been required to post their prices on
their websites or send them by email. The rule
does requires that written price lists must be given
to anyone who inquires in person at the funeral
home or who asks for prices over the phone.
FCA/CFA summarized the results of their
survey as follows: only 38 (25 percent) of the 150
funeral homes selected fully disclosed prices on
their websites. And 24 funeral homes (16 percent)
did not disclose prices on their websites or in
response to email or a phone call. Also, the prices
disclosed indicated a wide variety of prices for
similar goods among various funeral homes. These
results were considered negative by FCA/CFA, and
the news media followed this lead unquestioningly.
However, the FCA website provided additional
data for each of the 10 cities surveyed. This
data showed the following: of the 150 funeral 

January 2016

ICCFA officers

Darin B. Drabing, president

Michael Uselton, CCFE, president-elect
Jay D. Dodds, CFSP, vice president
Paul Goldstein, vice president
Christine Toson Hentges, CCE,
vice president
Scott R. Sells, CCFE, vice president
Gary M. Freytag, CCFE, treasurer
Daniel L. Villa, secretary
Robert M. Fells, Esq., executive director &
general counsel

Robert Treadway, director of
communications & member services; 1.800.645.7700, ext. 1224
Katherine Devins, communications assistant; 1.800.645.7700, ext. 1218

Magazine staff

Robert M. Fells, Esq., executive director &
publisher ; 1.800.645.7700, ext. 1212

Rick Platter, supplier relations manager; 1.800.645.7700, ext. 1213

Brenda Clough, office administrator
& association liaison; 1.800.645.7700,
ext. 1214

Susan Loving, managing editor


ICCFA Magazine

homes surveyed, 134 gave the price information
requested—even though they were not legally
required to do so. In fact, five of the 10 cities
had 100 percent compliance with the requested
information. Of the remaining five cities, 16 of the
75 funeral homes provided none of the requested
price data. FCA/CFA claimed the number to be 24,
not 16, but examination of the individual city data
showed only 16 funeral homes were indicated.
The survey measured prices in three areas:
direct cremation, immediate burial and full
funeral. The high and low price points in each
city were thousands of dollars apart. Typically,
this would indicate vigorous price competition,
but FCA/CFA claimed the range is confusing
and therefore bad for the public. This conclusion
makes one wonder what would be said had all
the prices been similar. Antitrust specialists could
infer price fixing from such uniform pricing.
More troubling is the way pricing is
shoehorned into three categories. A direct
cremation will include different things with
different providers; the same is true in the case
of direct burial and full funerals. By overgeneralizing, the survey ends up comparing
proverbial apples and oranges.
The bottom line of the FCA/CFA survey is to
call on the Federal Trade Commission to require
funeral providers to post their prices on their
websites, and to send them by email on request.
This move would require amending the Funeral
Rule, which is currently scheduled for review
in 2018. FCA/CFA points to California law as a
precedent for requiring the posting of funeral prices
on websites, but it seems that California doesn’t
actually require this.

Daniel Osorio, subscription coordinator
(habla español); 1.800.645.7700, ext. 1215
ICCFA Magazine (ISSN 1936-2099) is published by the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association®, 107 Carpenter
Drive, Suite 100, Sterling, VA 20164-4468;
703.391.8400; FAX 703.391.8416; Published 10 times per year,
with combined issues in March-April and
August-September. Periodicals postage paid
at Sterling, VA, and other offices. Copyright

2016 by the International Cemetery, Cremation
and Funeral Association. Subscription rates: In
the United States, $39.95; in Canada, $45.95;
overseas: $75.95. One subscription is included
in annual membership dues. POSTMASTER:
Send address changes to ICCFA Magazine,
107 Carpenter Drive, Suite 100, Sterling, VA
20164-4468. Individual written contributions,
commentary and advertisements appearing in
ICCFA Magazine do not necessarily reflect
either the opinion or the endorsement of the
International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral

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Biondan AD
page 13

Letter to the Editor
Ramsey Creek Preserve’s Campbell disputes negative
comments about natural/conservation burial grounds

To the editor:
Thanks to ICCFA for the excellent article
(November 2015) on Mount Elliott’s awardwinning natural burial project, The Preserve.
We consulted with the cemetery when they
were considering a green project, and were
taken by the possibilities of the nearly blankslate site and surrounding beauty that would
become The Preserve.
It is truly a remarkable site, and Mount
Elliott, along with landscape architect Jack
Goodnoe, have
created what
might be the best
cemetery (a
natural cemetery
attached to a
cemetery) in the
entire country.
However, we
take issue with
several opinions
ICCFA Magazine featured and statements
the Campbell’s Ramsey
Goodnoe offered
Creek Preserve, the
about larger,
country’s first green cem- freestanding
etery, in a 2003 issue.
projects, cremation and the idea that
contemporary cemeterians have a lock on
how to create, market and run a memorial
space, particularly one devoted to native flora
and fauna. We take special exception with
the idea that only contemporary cemeterians
know how to care for families.
Contrary to Goodnoe’s statement, when
a contemporary cemetery opens a green
section, the chief economic advantage is
the ability to share staff, infrastructure and
equipment, on land the cemetery already
owns. The low marginal cost for creating
a green section allows profit at lower
sale volumes than would be needed for a
freestanding start-up that has to purchase
land, pay and train all new staff, build
infrastructure and purchase equipment.
Running a cemetery is not all that differ­
ent from other businesses as far as setting
prices, marketing, selecting and training
employees and maintaining infrastructure.
Yes, there is a learning curve, but several
of the natural area projects have been

ICCFA Magazine

around for almost 10 years or more, and are
financially successful.
Effectively caring for and comforting
the bereaved requires empathy and skill,
but in our experience this aptitude is not
critically rare, and those with it are readily
trained. Keep in mind that many of us who
are involved in conservation burial come
from backgrounds that give us a leg up when
dealing with death and bereavement. I am a
conservationist, but I am also a family doctor
and hospice director.
The Monastery of the Holy Spirit,
which operates the most successful green
burial operation to date (The Honey Creek
Woodlands), certainly has some expertise
with mortality and grieving. We have also
been gratified to find a growing number
of individuals in the cemetery and funeral
business who are anxious to be involved with
conservation cemeteries (and who in some
cases need retraining).
Competence in maintaining a lawn
cemetery does not necessarily provide the
skill set to restore and maintain the grounds
of a natural cemetery. Nor does being
good at selling lawn plots and mausoleum
crypts magically translate into effectively
communicating with and marketing to those
upper-middle income, educated, greenleaning individuals we find attracted to the
natural area sites, including, among others,
those concerned about price, sportsmen and
conservative, traditional evangelicals in our
These clients often seek us out because
protecting land resonates with their core
values, and helps them feel they are part of
something positive that will extend beyond
their lifetimes. Families of those buried at
conservation sites have become passionate
advocates of these projects and what we do.
Goodnoe says green cemeteries “should
be run like cemeteries, not like natural
areas,” but these operations are not mutually
exclusive. It sounds an awful lot like denying
the need for innovation and the development
of new skills. Our clients want to be buried
in a beautiful setting that will be managed
like a natural area.
Isn’t it all about serving the needs and
preferences of families and clients? Some
people want a lawn, some want a tidy

landscape with native plants and others
want something more natural. We suggest
that larger projects have a more “tame” area
with eco-revelatory design for visitor contact
(and burials for those who prefer this type
of setting), with the larger area devoted to
restoring wild landscapes.
Apparently Goodnoe sees the larger
size of natural area projects as a negative:
“You should minimize your consumption
of land, not maximize it.” He is completely
missing the point. Conservation burial
projects—our 1998 Ramsey Creek Preserve
in South Carolina being the prototype—don’t
“consume” land, they ecologically restore
and protect natural habitats that had been
previously “consumed.”
Through careful land selection, imple­
mentation of restoration ecology techniques
and careful design of infrastructure, these
projects take degraded properties and
create high quality natural landscapes
that complement landscape-level/regional
conservation efforts.
These spaces provide the public with
beautiful surroundings for burial, yes, but
also for weddings, educational venues, bird
watching, hiking, photography and other
compatible uses.
Conservation burial is another tool
in the toolbox for healing and protecting
land and for helping to cement the bonds
between human communities and the natural
communities they depend upon.
Goodnoe also said, “If you have a park
of 100 acres and every place in it that you
want to walk has someone buried in it, it’s a
different environment from a regular park.”
Goodnoe fails to realize that people are not
buried evenly thoughout the landscape.
At Ramsey Creek, and most other
projects we have seen, burials are clustered,
with large areas of the project off limits
for burial. But even where burials occur,
the feeling and appearance is not that of
a contemporary cemetery. As we tell our
clients, if the project looks and feels like a
cemetery, we have failed.
But of course it is not like a “regular
park.” Anything but. We think the presence
of graves can help people see nature in a
new light.
It is not by accident that most older
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Letter to the Editor
churches have associated cemeteries. The
presence of graves at these churches is not
“creepy” and does not dominate the meaning
of what the church is, but it helps give a
sense of place and generational history
to the grounds, along with reminders of
mortality—but also about rebirth and life.
At conservation cemeteries, we want the
sights and sounds of life to dominate. This
profusion of life does not belittle the reality
of the burials, but for many (including me) it
helps soften grief and loss. Not surprisingly,
conservation burial projects get substantial
visitation from a public that does not seem
to be put off as Goodnoe implies. In fact, at
least one project is concerned about crowd
control to preserve the serenity and sanctity
of the place.
Finally, all of the conservation burial
projects I know gladly take cremated
remains. It is the right choice for many
families due to expense, simplicity and other
issues. It is the second greenest option.
But Goodnoe again takes it further,
making the case that cremation is the
greenest option because “[burial] take(s) up

10 times as much land.” He also says that
since we all use a lot of gas in our day-today lives, we should not be concerned about
cremation using the fossil fuel equivalent of
a tank-full of gas for an SUV.
We do not think that deciding which
option is “less bad” for the environment
should be the starting point, but rather
which option does the most good things
on balance. To repeat, our projects to not
“consume land;” interment sites become
areas of intense restoration with special and
rare species.
Cremation itself consumes fossil fuels
and turns the body’s life-giving nutrients
into air pollution; cremations will use the
equivalent of 25 million gallons of gasoline
this year (enough to propel a hybrid sedan
1.25 billion miles), while releasing 320
pounds of mercury and 270,000 tons of
CO2, along with some toxic sulfurous
and nitrogenous gasses. Thankfully, this
is not enough to have a significant impact
on our overall air quality. However, green
cemeterians need to innovate to make the
process a net positive rather than trivializing

and “normalizing” negatives.
I think that for many of us, deciding
about our final disposition is quite different
from deciding whether to drive to the beach
this weekend. If what is left of me can help
protect and nourish a natural area, rather than
go up a smokestack, that is what I want.
But when cremated remains help restore
habitat, be it terrestrial or reef habitats,
the net effect for the environment is over­
whelmingly positive. Where a forest is
being restored (and carbon is captured by
the growing trees), the net carbon release is
eliminated or greatly reduced. Those who are
still concerned can purchase carbon credits
for only a few dollars.
We in the conservation burial community
applaud The Preserve’s well-deserved award,
but do not see such projects as the very
pinnacle of green disposition. Certainly the
public deserves an array of choices, and we
object to ill-informed derisive comments by
those who should know better. 

Dr. Billy Campbell, 

Memorial Ecosystems Inc., 

Westminster, South Carolina

1/2 H

Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

January 2016


by Poul Lemasters, Esq.

No one likes to do disinterments, but some people make the

experience worse, and create liability, by not taking the steps
needed to make things run as smoothly as possible.

The right way to move Mom
Five basic steps to follow in any disinterment


ICCFA Magazine author spotlight
➤Lemasters is principal of Lemasters

Consulting, Cincinnati, Ohio.

➤He is an attorney and funeral director,
graduated from the Cincinnati College of
Mortuary Science in 1996 and from Northern Kentucky University, Chase College of
Law, in 2003. He is licensed as a funeral
director and embalmer in Ohio and West
Virginia and admitted to practice law in
Ohio and Kentucky.
ICCFA membership benefit
➤He is the ICCFA’s special crema-

tion legal counsel. ICCFA members in
good standing may call him to discuss
cremation-related legal issues for up to 20
minutes at no charge to the member. The
association pays for this service via an
exclusive retainer.

➤Lemasters also provides, to ICCFA members in good standing, free GPL reviews
to check for Funeral Rule compliance.

➤ Go to to the Cremation Support section, where you can post a
question for Lemasters to answer.
More from this author
Lemasters will
be part of the
Cremation Central
Live! program at
the ICCFA 2016
Convention &
Expo, April 13-16,
in New Orleans,
Louisiana, speaking about “Cremation
Headaches: How to Handle the Day-toDay issues.” See page 96.


ICCFA Magazine


isinterments are a fantastic
revenue source—says the attorney.
OK, that may be a bit strong
and is probably cynical, assuming that
disinterments are lawsuits waiting to
happen. Every disinterment does not lead
to a lawsuit or a problem.
However, any disinterment can turn
into a lawsuit or a problem. A disinterment
is a huge potential liability and great care
should be exercised when performing one.
What exactly does that mean?
Every disinterment is different, so
there is no way for one article to deal with
all the issues that need to be addressed.
But there are some basics that should
be considered when you are handling or
participating in a disinterment.
Consider this list of five items the
basics, or better yet the minimum, of
what should be done when you—or the
family—decide it’s time to move Mom.

1. Investigate

Admit it; everyone wants to know the
reason someone is being disinterred. And
now you are being advised to dig for
the dirt—before you actually dig. Why?
Because of the history of disinterments.
Historically, courts do not support
disin­terments. In fact, courts today still use
language such as: “We, the court, disfavor
disinterments” and “The court believes
that a body should not be disturbed once it
is laid in its place of final rest.”
Because courts do not typically favor
disinterments, if you end up in court over
a problem with a disinterment, the court is
going to look upon you with disfavor right
from the start.
The court is going to want to hear a
good reason for the disinterment. So, what
is a good reason? Don’t misunderstand;
it is not your job to decide if the reason
is good enough. But when you hear

the family’s reason, you can probably
recognize a potential problem, and take
steps to avoid it.
As one quick example, imagine two
children wanting to disinter their mother
so she can be laid to rest in a cemetery
closer to her home. Sounds fair; sounds
But what if, after doing some investi­
gating, you learn that there is other family
and the two children are doing this to
spite the rest of the family? You may not
be able to stop the process, but you could
get a stronger release signed to protect the
cemetery from potential issues.

2. Decide on participation

If everyone wants to know why the disin­
terment is happening, the next thing many
people want is to watch. The question is,
do you want the family to watch? Are they
allowed to watch? Can you stop them from
Many of the answers to these questions
will depend on the specific facts of the
case. But there is one constant: You
can at least identify what the family’s
participation will be.
By identifying ahead of time who will
participate in the “viewing,” you will at
least be in a better position to prepare
for the situation. Furthermore, you can
also include appropriate language in your
release, depending on the involvement of
the family.

3. Define responsibilities

The funny thing about a disinterment
is that everyone involved thinks it is
someone else’s job. The cemetery thinks
the funeral home is responsible, because
the funeral home gets permits. The funeral
home thinks it’s the cemetery’s job,
because the cemetery digs the grave. And
guess what? The vault company typically
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In fact, disinterments involve everyone: the cemetery, the funeral home,
the vault company and the family. If it goes right, no one knows who did what.
If it goes wrong, everyone gets blamed.
does everything, even though they are
otherwise the least involved in the process!
In fact, disinterments involve everyone:
the cemetery, the funeral home, the vault
company and the family. If it goes right, no
one knows who did what. If it goes wrong,
everyone gets blamed.
Take time to identify which parties are
going to be responsible for what portions
of the process. That way you can identify
potential issues.
As an example, to mention one
common issue where no one assumes
responsibility, consider the vault and
casket being disinterred. In a perfect
world, the vault and casket are disinterred
and then reinterred in a new spot.
However, in the real world, the casket
and vault may not be able to be reused. So
who is responsible for obtaining the new
vault and/or casket?
More important, who is responsible for
the disposal of the old casket and/or vault?
Does anyone even have permission from
the family to dispose of these items?
Identifying these responsibilities in the
beginning avoids issues at the time of the

have some element of poor communication
as a basis. Failure to communicate can
generate anger and be all it takes to spur
people to file a lawsuit.)
All parties must communicate. Items
that are easily taken care of with proper
communication can grow into contentious
issues when parties do not take the time to
Consider the timing of a disinterment.
A disinterment is not typically a quick
process, so it’s important to communicate
to the family how long it might take.
Also, many times the disinterment takes
additional manpower and equipment, so do
not plan on calling around and scheduling
a disinterment the day before and expect to
be able to make it work.
This might seem to fly in the face of
common sense, but many times funeral
homes, cemeteries and vault companies
fail to communicate. Let’s face it: Some­
times they don’t like to talk to each other
at all. Take the time to communicate
among all parties involved about the status
of the disinterment to help avoid issues
that could affect everyone.

4. Communicate

There is no way an attorney is going to tell
you not to document everything, and this
case is no exception. Documenting every
step of the disinterment process is critical.
With all the potential issues that can arise,

No one likes to be left in the dark. It
is important to make sure everyone,
family included, knows the status of the
disinterment. (As an aside, many lawsuits

5. Document everything

ICCFA Member Benefit:
To download Poul Lemasters’
sample Disinterment/
Reinterment Authorization
Form, visit the ICCFA
Member Resource Area
you need everything possible to protect you.
Where do you start with documentation?
A “Disinterment/Reinterment Authorization
and Release” is probably a good place to
start. (If you are an ICCFA member, please
visit the ICCFA Member Resource Area for
a sample disinterment form.) While no one
document is bulletproof, a release is a good
place to start.
Make sure any release you use contains
some of the items listed above as well as
language that protects your business. This
means that your company, whether you
are the funeral home, cemetery or vault
company, is identified and provided some
protection for your involvement.
Again, this is not a complete list of
everything you need when conducting a
disinterment, but it is a good place to start,
and it does cover some of the basics. By
implementing these steps and incorporating
your own best practices, you can make
disinterments a safer practice.

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January 2016


Meet Your Association Leaders
Board Member
Allen Dave Jr., CFuE
➤Allen L. Dave Jr., CFuE,
is president and general
manager of Death Care
Management & Financial
Group, LLC, DBA Allen
Dave Funeral Homes of
Texas. The home office is
located in Houston. He also
serves as vice president
for Letum Inc., based in
Pennsylvania and operating cemeteries and funeral
homes in Louisiana, New
York, Pennsylvania, Texas
and Washington.


ICCFA Magazine

Offering white glove service at Allen Dave Funeral Homes of Texas, from left, Anthony McDuff,
administration manager; Pam Girdy, funeral director in charge and location manager; Betty
Denkins, hospitality director; Fran Feming, sales director; and owner Allen Dave, CFuE.

Allen Dave, Allen Dave Funeral Homes
Why did you choose to work in cemetery and/or
funeral service?
As a wedding event planner, turning to funeral
directing was a simple transition for me. I went from
owning and operating a wedding event business for
more than 20 years and creating meaningful wedding
celebrations to death care.
I survived my first five years by serving the
families of the brides in my database going back
20 years. They had trusted me with their weddings,
and now with their funerals. I have performed many
services for the parents and grandparents of previous
brides and grooms.
My goal is to provide beautiful funerals and
memorials, similar to what I did when handling
weddings. All of our funeral homes are designed for
warmth, elegance and beautiful reception centers.
What is the best experience you’ve ever had in
your job?
The experience of a lifetime happened this past
summer. A family in Houston tragically lost eight
members. During this horrific time, leading my
experienced team of directors, embalmers and
restorative artists was challenging. It was a difficult
week at every level, having to control the media
and plan a funeral for eight by telephone. Very few
funeral directors will have this rare opportunity to
serve this many at one time.

My goal is to provide beautiful
funerals and memorials, similar to
what I did when handling weddings.

Nevertheless, it turned out to be a good
experience. They trusted us 100 percent to handle
everything. We hosted a funeral planned without
having met in person with anyone from the families
of the deceased. Everything imaginable happened,
but the families were well served. It was a great
feeling of accomplishment.
What was the most difficult experience, and
what did you learn from it?
The most difficult experience involved a crema­
tion, the highest risk area in our profession. We
had a family request a private viewing followed
by immediate cremation to be witnessed. We place
the deceased into the chamber, hit start and then
a family member arrived late and wanted to view
the deceased. We had to stop the cremation process
imme­diately and remove the body to allow this last
request, which we would not have been able to do if
she had arrived just three minutes later.
This was the most stressful time-sensitive issue of
my career. We changed our policy and now require
the crematory operator to receive one final signature
by legal next-of-kin prior to hitting the start button
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The family requested popcorn to be placed with dad into the cremation casket prior to entry into
the crematory chamber. The family witnessed the cremation and loved hearing the pops within
the first minutes of the cremation process. They laughed and clapped: Dad goes out with a bang!
during a witnessed cremation.
What was the most unusual request you ever
had from a family (or client) and how did
you handle it?
The deceased had loved watching movies at
the theater, including date nights with his wife
and family. The family requested popcorn to
be placed with Dad into the cremation casket
prior to entry into the crematory chamber.
The family witnessed the cremation
and loved hearing the pops within the first
minutes of the cremation process. They
laughed and clapped: Dad goes out with a
Then, we placed the cremated remains
into a movie-theater-style popcorn bag prior
to closing and securing the cremation urn.
That’s personalization on a new level.
What advice would you give to young people
just starting out in this profession?
I would recommend entry-level profes­sionals
to take additional educational classes in
debate, communications, accounting, sales
and marketing to prepare them for general
and conflict management.
Funeral directors and other service
providers who are able to control their
arrangement conferences by clearly
explaining every detail in planning and
understanding the difference in products will
be valuable funeral professionals.
What do you see as the biggest benefits of
ICCFA membership?

ICCFA University has been my best benefit
of ICCFA membership. Attendance has
provided the blueprint of my business
success. The ICCFA advanced my career
further than anything else available.
In 2003, I was the rookie with no
experience in death care at any level. Today,
I own four funeral homes, one cemetery and
one crematory plus serve as vice president
for Letum Inc., managing an additional
three funeral homes, five cemeteries and a
crematory. Combined we serve over 1,700
families in Texas and Louisiana.
Why did you wish to serve as an ICCFA
board member?
My objectives were to position myself to be
around the leaders within death care. The
knowledge and resources of other board
members are valuable. Obtaining insight
into the industry from progressive leaders is
What is the biggest challenge facing the
profession, and how is the ICCFA working
to address it?
The number one challenge is how we get
cremation families to value final disposition
in a cemetery. Cemeteries are facing
revenue declines from cremation families
not selecting a final resting place. The rich
heritage of cemeteries can be lost in future
Many families are turning their living
rooms into cemeteries with our beautiful urns.

What’s happening to all of the crema­tion urns
when current households die and no other
family member wants the urn?
Cemeteries must create more cremation
gardens and embrace cremation families.
What are your outside interests?
I love being out on the lake, taking my boat
out and relaxing, sharing stories and making
memories with family and friends.
Who are your heroes/role models?
My death-care role models are Todd W. Van
Beck, Robert Lomison, Eldridge Thompson,
James Price, Ernie Heffner, Mark Krause,
Bob Horn, Nancy Lohman and John Horan.
If you could “do lunch” today with anyone
in the world, living or dead, whom would
you choose and why?
I would select Oprah, in the best interest of
death care. I think it’s going to take someone
on this level talking to women about the
importance of ceremonial and funeral rituals
and the importance of the cemetery to create
Why have many civilizations celebrated
death with generational rituals while
today’s generation is moving toward
“fast and simple”? If things don’t change,
cremation is going to cause fallout in future
generations. Families will have no place
to go to mourn, reflect and continue their
history. Cemeteries are our best hope to
continue heritage at its finest.

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January 2016


Meet Your Association Leaders
Board Member
Abbie Brammer
➤Abbie Brammer
Quiocho is director of
business development for
Gibraltar Remembrance
Services, Indianapolis,


ICCFA Magazine

Abbie Brammer Quiocho, Gibraltar
Why did you choose to work in cemetery and/or
funeral service?
My family had been in the cemetery and funeral
industry, and I grew up visiting funeral homes and
cemeteries during family vacations.
When I was graduating from college, my dad
asked if I would be interested in joining Gibraltar
Remembrance Services. At the time, I thought it
would be a great opportunity to get experience and
have a more valuable learning experience.
Ten years later, I have found the industry very
rewarding and challenging, so it is a great fit for me.
What is the best experience you’ve ever had in
your job?
In Indianapolis, Crown Hill and Leppert Mortuary
supported a local 8-year-old’s efforts to raise
money for police officers to have bulletproof vest
plates. We used social media to show our support,
and donated 50 cents for every new Facebook like
to their pages.
All the local news stations covered our support,
and we donated $1,048.50 after the month-long
campaign. It was really rewarding to support a good
cause and to inspire a youth in our community to
make a difference.
I am now friends with the family and we keep in
touch on a personal level.
What was the most difficult experience, and
what did you learn from it?
A few difficult experiences have led me to learn
that I will make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to take a
chance for fear of making a mistake. It is how you
learn from those mistakes and move forward that
matters the most.
What advice would you give to young people just
starting out in this profession?
Consider the lessons you learn from others and draw
from your own passion to be successful. Learn as
much from others as you can. Observe the lessons
they have learned and understand what has made
them successful in this profession.
Your passion and unique perspective make a
difference in how you serve families and adapt to the
changes in our industry.
What do you see as the biggest benefits of
ICCFA membership?
There are many benefits to ICCFA membership.
The networking is at the top of the list. Meeting
other people in the same industry and sharing ideas
has been very beneficial to my career. It is very
impressive how willing everyone is to share ideas
and to encourage each other.
Why did you wish to serve as an ICCFA board

Don’t be afraid to take a chance for
fear of making a mistake. It is how
you learn from those mistakes and
move forward that matters the most.

Quiocho with James Mullikin, former director
of cemetery operations at Crown Hill Funeral
Home & Cemetery when the company helped
a local boy’s efforts to raise money for police
officers to have bulletproof vest plates.

The ICCFA is a progressive and forward-thinking
organization. Through the ICCFA events and my
involvement with the Next Generation Committee,
I wanted to become more involved with the
association. To help serve the organization and be
part of its future is very rewarding, and I am honored
to be a member of the board.
What is the biggest challenge facing the profession,
and how is the ICCFA working to address it?
In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges facing
the profession is the value perception from the
families we serve, especially cremation families.
Businesses must be constantly vigilant of market
trends and be able to communicate the value of their
The ICCFA recognizes the challenge and
consistently provides educational opportunities to
learn more about how to serve families.
What are your outside interests?
My husband and I just welcomed our first child,
Connor. He is a sweet little boy whom we enjoy
giving our time and attention to. I also enjoy snow
skiing, reading, barre and yoga.
I strongly support empowering young women
and have been a volunteer with Girls Inc. to
teach them life skills such as communication and
personal finance.
Who are your heroes/role models?
I am very lucky to have amazing parents, Jay and 

➤to page 21
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Meet Your Association Leaders

Yvan Rodrigue, Celebris

Why did you choose to work in cemetery and/or
funeral service?
It’s a privilege to accompany people during such
an important milestone in life as the passing of a
loved one. Being there for a family who has lost
a member is very important for me so that I can
help them with the grieving process and celebrate
the life of their loved one.
What is the best experience you’ve ever had in
your job?
After taking care of a family in providing our
cemetery services, I became close with the father
of the deceased. When he retired from his job, he
decided to join our team and work with us.
What was the most difficult experience you’ve
ever had in your job, and what did you learn
from it?
At the beginning of my career, I had to help a
family dealing with their son’s suicide. Their
son was my age, so it was very difficult not to
be affected by their loss. It made me realize that
life is so short. Every life is important and every
person matters.
What advice would you give to young people just
starting out in this profession?
Take the time to talk to and learn from the people
who have worked in the funeral industry for
a long time. The experience and expertise of
previous generations can teach a lot of important
What do you see as the biggest benefits of
ICCFA membership?
The opportunity to meet and share experiences
with colleagues from different regions of North
America. We all share the same new opportunities
and challenges. Being with peers helps to further
both our profession and improve our services.
Why did you wish to serve as an ICCFA board
I wanted to share my experience as a funeral
home president and as a funeral association
president in the Canadian province that has the

At the beginning of my career, I had
to help a family dealing with their
son’s suicide. Their son was my
age so it was very difficult not to be
affected by their loss. It made me
realize that life is so short. Every
life is important and every person
highest cremation rate in North America.
I believe that I can provide insights into the
trends and issues impacting our industry.
What is the biggest challenge facing the
profession, and how is the ICCFA working to
address it?
Cremation is the biggest challenge that we are
facing; it is changing the industry landscape as
we know it. The ICCFA’s annual conference has
continuously addressed this challenge in order to
help funeral homes and cemeteries adapt to this
ever-growing trend.
What are your outside interests?
I’m very fond of outdoor activities. I do a lot of
hiking, tree planting and fishing. Being outdoors
keeps me grounded.
Who are your heroes/role models?
My dad is my role model. His advice and
guidance have helped me my whole life. He’s a
caring father and always put his family first.
I admire his approach to life.
If you could “do lunch” today with anyone
in the world, living or dead, whom would you
choose and why?
I would definitely have lunch with Michael
Eisner. He was the president of the Walt Disney
Co. for many years. I’m very impressed by his
work for the company—he’s a real self-made
man. His creativity and his leadership are truly

Board Member
Yvan Rodrigue
➤Yvan Rodrigue is president and COO of Celebris,
Montréal and Québec,

➤from page 20
Becky Brammer, who are excellent role
models. My mom has always been very
giving of her time to organizations and
charities. She gives her all and is always
very engaged in the organization. She
inspires me to do my best and to be invested
Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

in my interests and activities.
Not only is my dad very intelligent,
he is also an extremely hard worker.
His persistence in learning to look at
everything from a different angle inspires
me to try the same. In the workplace, he
is a great person to bounce problems and

ideas off of because he always gives me a
fresh perspective.
My dad has always had a great work
ethic, but he always balances his work
with family. He sets a great example on
how to be a successful professional while
being involved with his family.
January 2016


interview by ICCFA Magazine
managing editor Susan Loving
ICCFA Magazine subject spotlight


Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum does not lack
for cremation options. It offers just about everything,
and thousands of cremation spaces are still available.
But it recently opened a major new cremation development
in order to expand the options for cremation families.
➤Gary Freytag, CCFE, is president and

CEO of the Spring Grove Family, including
Spring Grove Cemetery, Gwen Mooney
Funeral Homes and Oak Hill Cemetery.
He joined Spring Grove in 2003 and is
responsible for all aspects of the organiza­tion,
which handles more than 1,600 cemetery
and 950 funeral services annually.

➤Freytag is ICCFA treasurer, former

secretary and a former member of the ICCFA
Board of Directors. He is dean of the ICCFAU
College of Administration and Management.

➤He earned a bachelor’s degree in econo­

mics from Dartmouth College in 1984 and a
master’s degree in business administration
from Harvard University. He has a wide
variety of business expe­ri­ence, including
serving as vice president and treasurer for
Eagle Picher, a manufacturing organization
with 25 divisions and nearly $1 billion in
revenue worldwide.

➤Freytag is a member of the Cemetery
Council, the Historic Cemetery Alliance and
the Death Care Management Council.
➤Spring Grove Cemetery was chartered
in 1845 and is one of the largest nonprofit
cemeteries in the United States. Approxi­
mately 450 of its 750 acres are developed.

More from Gary Freytag
➤ICCFA University 2016

will be held July 22-27
at the Fogelman Confer­
ence Center, University of
Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee. Freytag
is a dean and professor. Curricula and
registration information will be available in
the spring at


ICCFA Magazine

Spring Grove’s Fountain of Remembrance development includes 1,250 double
niches in the niche banks from Carrier Mausoleums Construction, plus 400 indi­
vidual interment spaces in the flower beds.

Spring Grove’s new development
puts cremation front and center


pring Grove Cemetery and Arbore­
tum in Cincinnati, Ohio, offers
families many cremation options, and
those gardens are not running out of space.
Nevertheless, the cemetery recently unveiled
a new $1.3 million cremation garden in a
prime location close to the historic cemetery’s
Spring Grove already had thousands
of cremation spaces available before this
new development opened. The Fountain of
Remembrance’s walls provide 1,250 double
niches, and there are 400 individual interment
spaces available in the flower beds.
“If you asked me how many cremation
spaces Spring Grove has, I would say
thousands,” Spring Grove President and
CEO Gary Freytag, CCFE, said. “We offer
ground interment and columbarium niches—
glass-front niches, a waterfall complex. We
offer everything but scattering, though we
have a walking trail with biodegradable

urns—our version of scattering.
“But what we’re trying to do is give
the cremation customer more variety. So
the development we’ve done recently is in
product offerings we didn’t offer previously:
a cremation nature trail, glass-front niches
and this development.”
“Interestingly, I brought my parents,
who are the classic cremation customers,
to the cemetery. I took them to the Fountain
of Remembrance and my father loved it,
thought it was fantastic. My mother hated it,
didn’t like the feel. I took them to the nature
trail and my mother loved that, while dad
said, ‘Absolutely no way.’
“They’re leaving the decision to me, of
course. So I’m probably going to put half of
their remains in each section.”
The new Fountain of Remembrance
cremation garden places cremation front and
center at Spring Grove. It provides a spacious
yet intimate setting where families can gather
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Above, Deb Fox, preplanning advisor, and Skip Phelps, director of advance planning, demonstrate the two options for place­
ment of urns in the Fountain of Remembrance: in the ground in one of the planters, or in a curved granite niche wall.

Left, the rendering
by Carrier Mauso­
leums Construc­
tion of landscape
architect Jack C.
Goodnoe’s design
shows how their
curved niche
banks form
intimate smaller
spaces within the
large garden.
Below, a group
of Spring Grove
Family employ­
ees pose at
the Fountain of
development after
its dedication.

Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

January 2016



The reason we didn’t put more product in there was to maintain architectural integrity. This is located
in a historic section of Spring Grove; on one side there is architecture from the 1800s.—Gary Freytag

The new cremation development (above) includes design details that tie it in with
the nearby entrance gates to the historic cemetery, as well as the 1850s Norman
Chapel (both below). The cutouts in the vertical pillars in the cremation garden
mirror the carvings and window shapes in the chapel and on the the front gate.


ICCFA Magazine

for inurnments and return to for quiet
contemplation in beautiful surround­ings. The
architecture is clean and modern but includes
design details that recall the 19th-century
archi­tecture of the nearby cemetery entrance
and the Norman Chapel.
The cremation rate in the area is about 50
percent, Freytag said, and that holds true for
the organization’s funeral home. At the ceme­
tery, the rate is 30 percent.
Spring Grove has been working for
several years to increase the memoriali­zation
rate for families who choose cremation,
making sure every family who uses the
funeral home is presented with memoriali­
zation options, and that effort is going well,
Freytag said.
“We’ve increased the absolute number of
cremation placements at Spring Grove, and
we’ve also increased the percentage of our
cases that are cremation-related,” Freytag
said. The new garden is also designed to
contribute to that effort. 

➤to page 26
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January 2016



Another design element we tried to embrance was feng shui. We don’t have a large
Asian population here, but we thought it was a good design principle.—Gary Freytag

Above, the fountain as it was before the new development, below. The planters
accept inurnments, with memorialization placed on the planters’ granite sides.

➤from page 24
The Fountain of Remembrance offers
granite niches in an area designed to be both
grand and intimate.
“It’s what they call in Canada a hard­
scape, as opposed to softscape, which means
it’s primarily granite and water, though
there are some flower planters. The primary
offering is granite niches, but we also do
ground inurnments inside the flowerbeds.”
The memorialization for those flowerbed
inurnments will be on the sides of the
Inurnments and memorialization are
limited to the planters and niche banks;

ICCFA Magazine

neither the fountain nor the paving blocks
offer memorialization options. There are two
small grass areas outside the paved circle
where ground inurnments will probably be
offered in the future.
“That was intentional,” Freytag said of
the limited options. “The reason we didn’t
put more product in there was to maintain
architectural integrity. This is located in a
historic section of Spring Grove; on one side
there is architecture from the 1800s. And
it literally butts up against Spring Grove
Avenue, so it’s right down in front at the
cemetery, near the entrance.”
The granite and stone garden looks like
it could be a war memorial or other public

project, not necessarily a cemetery garden.
Again, that was intentional, Freytag said.
Spring Grove is not running out of space,
and that gave them a lot of flexibility in the
design. “We didn’t have to get maximum
density out of this development. We got
decent density, but not maximum density.”
They decided they wanted to use the
existing fountain, which had been there for
years, and to make the development fit the
scale of the fountain.
“I’ve seen a lot of cremation develop­
ments in my travels around North Ameri­
ca,” Freytag said. I’ve been to the French
properties in Albuquerque, to Mount Pleasant
in Toronto, to the Lohman proper­ties in
Florida, to a number of historic cemeteries.
“There are some themes that seem to run
through the cremation developments that
work.” One of those themes is breaking up
larger gardens into smaller spaces—“15
by 12 feet, 12 by 10 feet, 20 by 15 feet—
providing people with a sense of intimacy.”
The designers needed to balance the scope
and scale of the project as a whole with the
inclusion of areas where families could have
a sense of privacy, Freytag said.
That is why the niche banks are curved,
creating clustered areas within the larger
space. Overall, there is enough open space to
allow for inurnment services with up to 60 or
70 people, Freytag estimated.
Families who prefer an indoor service
can use the Norman Chapel, about 200 yards
away from the Fountain of Remembrance.
The design was the result of colla­boration
between landscape architect Jack C. Goodnoe
and representatives of Spring Grove. The
team from Carrier Mausoleums Construction
then brought the design to life, Freytag said,
praising Carrier as an innovative firm to work

Incorporating feng shui

“Another design element we tried to
embrance was feng shui,” Freytag said. “We
don’t have a large Asian population here, but
we thought it was a good design principle.”
“I’ve had multiple conversations with former
ICCFA President Ken Varner.” (Varner
is president and CEO of Cypress Lawn
Cemetery Association, Colma, Califor­nia,
which does serve a large Asian population.)
The niche banks closest to Spring Grove
Avenue are six or seven niches high, and
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therefore seven or eight feet high, while the
ones to either side are five niches high, or
about five-and-a-half feet high.
There are steps from the niche banks
down to the fountain/planter level.
The taller niche banks serve the feng shui
function of a mountain blocking the wind; the
lower fountain serves the function of a water
feature retaining energy.
The placement of the Fountain of
Remembrance garden near the cemetery
entrance and the funeral home means that it’s
easy to bring families to see it.
Within a month of opening the garden,
Spring Grove had sold nearly $150,000
worth of property in it, Freytag said. No
preconstruction sales were made, and there
has been no marketing campaign to announce
its availability. During construction, “We put
a small sign out that said ‘coming soon,’ and
that’s about it,” Freytag said.
Asked if, now that it’s open, Spring Grove
would be launching any sort of advertising
campaign for the new garden, Freytag
replied, “I don’t think we have to; this design
is selling itself.”

The area as it
looked before
the new development, which is
screened from
Spring Grove
Avenue by trees.
The niche banks
are also highest
closest to the
avenue, helping block traffic
sounds. The
road between the
Fountain of Faith
(now renamed),
and the Garden of the Four
Seasons leads
to the Norman
Chapel and the
cemetery’s main
entrance in one
direction and to
Spring Grove’s
main funeral
home in the other

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January 2016


interview by ICCFA Magazine
managing editor Susan Loving

ICCFA Magazine subject spotlight
➤Sydney Smith is a

preplanning specialist
with Hoff Funeral &
Cremation Service,
and is also licensed to
handle prefunding.


How do you convince people to come to your
funeral home to hear about the benefits of preplanning?
Hoff Funeral has found success hosting informal events where
good information is served along with pizza and drinks.

➤She has a bachelor’s
degree in art education and a master’s
degree in education, and previously
worked as an art teacher, a graphic
designer and small-business owner.
She is active with the Winona Chamber
of Commerce as an Ambassador team
leader and PEO/Chapter AP as an officer.
➤Hoff Funeral & Cremation Service
has five locations in Minnesota:
St. Charles, Rushford, Lewiston, Houston
and Winona, where Hoff Celebration of
Life Center is located.

The invitation for the two-session program on end-of-life planning held at
Hoff’s Winona location, Hoff Celebration of Life Center.

Pizza & preplanning prove
to be a winning combination


replanning specialist Sydney
Smith has spoken at a lot of
different events for Hoff Funeral &
Cremation Service. Preplanning makes
at-need arrangements easier for families,
and preneed has helped build the Hoffs’
business, located in five communities in
“We’re all hard-working Midwest­
erners,” Smith said. “We have a good
reputation for working hard and paying
our own way, and the women have a good
reputation for planning ahead. So it’s kind
of natural that people around here would
take care of this ahead of time.”
Even so, calling or walking into a
funeral home can be a difficult first step,
even for practical Midwesterners. So Hoff
tries to make starting that conversation
Lunch-and-learns, workshops,
seminars, direct mail—funeral homes


ICCFA Magazine

are always looking for ways to make
preplanning, which many people don’t
want to think about, more palatable. Hoff
staff have found that serving hot pizza
and cold beverages creates a relaxing
atmosphere in which people are receptive
to the preplanning message and to what
Hoff has to offer.
It’s a message they deliver year in and
year out, as their emphasis is on creating
top-of-mind awareness of the Hoff brand
and on relationship-building rather than on
pressing for quick closings.
How did “Pizza and Pre-Planning” get
We have a marketing specialist, Pat
Zalusky, who worked for a funeral home
years ago that did something similar.
He mentioned it, and we liked the idea
of doing something very casual but also
informative. We wanted a way to get
people to come into the funeral home
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RSVPs were solicited to help with planning for refreshments. An endorsement by
an existing client spells out the benefits of preplanning.

and get some information without feeling
intimidated or upset.
In 2015, we had two “Pizza & PrePlanning” programs at two different loca­
tions. We invited a wonderfully energetic
lawyer, Jennifer Knapp from LiberaKnapp
Law Office, to speak at our first session.
She talked about wills, power of attorney,
medical assistance, preplanning, prefund­
ing and probate.
She gives a presentation that lasts about
half an hour and is very easily understood,
and then answers questions. People enjoy
listening to a lawyer who can speak using
normal language, and who is personable.
While she’s talking, our staff serves
refreshments, which include soda, wine
and beer. Then we serve pizza from a
locally famous pizza place. It’s very, very
People aren’t intimidated about walking
into the funeral home for something like
this. Some people said they were unsure
about coming, but we provided them with
great information that was easy to listen to.
We invited everyone back to a second
presentation where the Hoff staff talked
about “everything you always wanted to
know about funeral planning but were
afraid to ask.” So it was a two-event
The second session drew not only the
people who had come to the first one but

ICCFA Magazine

also additional people. We advertised the
program on the radio and on Facebook,
and sent out a mailer to people who live in
the area.
I used to be a graphic designer, and I
wanted the direct mail piece to not look
like it was from a funeral home.
What demographic did you aim to attract
with this program?
We tried to encourage people who are
50 to probably 75 or so to consider
preplanning for themselves and, in a lot of
cases, for their parents.
Did you target your advertising in any
way to attract those people?
We targeted areas, but the direct mail
pieces went to every door in those areas.
In Rushford, where we conducted one
two-session program, we sent everything
to the whole town. In Winona, we targeted
different sections of town the two times we
ran the two-session program at our funeral
home there.
Is this something you’ll keep doing, or
do you keep changing up the kinds of
seminars you offer?
I think we’ll keep changing it up. We
recently started a new preplanning direct
mail campaign. We designed and ordered
25,000 mailers called “Make Today Your
This mailer basically encourages people

to make their final wishes known. The
mailer will go out to all the areas that the
Hoffs serve and will probably take two
years to mail in sections.
The mailer suggests that people call us
or go to our website to engage with me
and request a free copy of our “Thoughtful
Decisions” guide, which helps people
through the preplanning process.
And I’m sure we’ll be doing veterans
programs and trying “Pizza and PrePlanning” in other locations, such as St.
Charles. But we won’t just keep doing it in
Winona forever.
We have to keep doing things to keep
the Hoff name out there, and we have to do
things that are different in order to entice
people to contact us or to come to the
funeral home.
We had one fellow who was kind of
dragged by his wife to the pizza event. He
looked through the door of the event room
(the Hoff funeral homes are beautiful, and
don’t necessarily look like funeral homes),
and said, “Oh, thank goodness; they have
In Rushford, which is a very conser­
vative little town, we had our first two
pizza and preplanning events last fall.
Gary Hoff said, “I don’t know—these
people are pretty conservative. I’m not
sure about serving alcohol.” And I said,
“Gary, nobody drinks coffee with pizza.”
Gary bought the pizza in October from
one great pizza place and in November
from another one, and served the beer and
wine and soda. In October, we did make
some coffee, but we did not serve a single
At the second session in November,
we didn’t make coffee. Almost everybody
had a glass of wine or a beer with their
pizza and listened to us and enjoyed the
information about funeral preplanning.
How do you judge the effectiveness of
events? Has the pizza event been effective
in getting people to preplan?
We get the names and addresses of the
people who attend events, and we have
just started capturing everybody’s email
address. I call everybody afterward, and
ask them if they have any questions, and
that leads to appointments. I ask if they’d
like the “Thoughtful Decisions” guide, and
if I can stop by with it.
Some preplanning does result from
those events, but I don’t necessarily get
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January 2016



Above, Sydney Smith and funeral director Brittany Renberg answer questions at one of the prelanning sessions. The question
displayed on the projector: “What is the price difference between traditional and cremation services?” Below, beverages and
pizza, plus literature and sign-in sheets set out and ready for attendees at the “Pizza and Pre-Planning” program.

funded prearrangements the first time I
talk to people. It does give me a chance to
answer their questions.
I’m now in my sixth year with the
Hoffs. Some clients have planned and then
funded those plans over the course of six
years, after, say, three conversations. It
doesn’t happen instantly.


ICCFA Magazine

So you’re aiming for a combination of
appointment-setting and relationshipbuilding?
Right. And, for the families, planning.
They have to talk to the kids. They have to
figure out when they’re going to tell their
children about it. And if they’re talking
about funding, where they’re going to get

the money, and on and on and on.
It’s important for me to keep track of
everyone and keep in touch with them. I
have never had anybody tell me not to call
them again.
So you’re not emphasizing trying to close
in that first one-on-one meeting with
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Left, the forms on the information table
ask people for their name, phone number and email address, and ask whether
they heard about the ”Pizza and PrePlanning” program from a mailer, radio,
Facebook, friend or other.
Below, sceenshots from Hoff Funeral
& Cremation Service’s website, which
prominently lists both cremation and
preplanning on its home page. The
preplanning link takes visitors to information about the benefits of planning
ahead. “Myth: Preplanning a funeral is
something only the elderly need to think
about.” “Reality: Anyone between 40
and 50 years old should preplan to avoid
confusion and financial stress.”

No, no, no—though it does happen. I had
one woman who said to me, “Well, this
is all very interesting, and I’d like to give
you the money and then I’m going to go to
bingo.” So there are people who plan and
pay the same day, but that’s not the norm.
I talk to or visit with most people at
least two times, if not three.
What exactly is involved in putting on
these events, beyond finding a lawyer to
present at the first session and having
your preneed presentation ready for the
second session? How many people are
involved in planning and executing these
Funeral director Brittany Horton Renberg
and I design the invitation, have it
approved, get it printed and mailed.
We have three to five people who work
the event by helping with the food and
refreshments. The preplanning specialist
and funeral directors are always there to
answer questions.
We do request RSVPs, via phone,
Facebook or email; we don’t do RSVPs
through the mail anymore. It helps
whomever has to figure out how much
pizza and beer and wine to order and pick
up. That’s about it—it isn’t a giant effort.
What have you learned from doing
seminars over the years in terms of what
I’ve learned that you do have to kind
of shake it up and try different things.
The general seminars I was involved
with at the very beginning of my time
at Hoff involved the marketing guy, the
preplanning person—which was me,
a veterans affairs officer and a lawyer.
Everybody got 10 minutes. These

ICCFA Magazine

programs provided good information, but
they were a little bit dry.
People enjoy “Pizza and Pre-Planning”
more. It’s more casual. We’re providing
the same information, but in a much more
casual, less intimidating way. No big, long
The lawyer is not telling individuals
how to settle their affairs. She tells them,
“You can make an appointment with me,
or talk to me after the program.” But
people ask her—and the funeral staff—
good questions.
Do you give tours of the funeral home
while people are there?
We always have the funeral home in great

condition; we have the crematory ready
to be viewed. We say the program is from
5:30 to 7-ish, including eating during the
presentation, and most people don’t run
out the door at 7 o’clock.
They hang around to eat, and to talk to
us and to the lawyer. If they ask to look
around, we give them a tour. People don't
like to call a funeral home, and they don’t
like to walk in. But we have beautiful
facilities and a friendly staff, and “Pizza
and Pre-Planning” brings people in so they
can see that.
I think preneed sales are harder for
funeral homes than cemeteries. Not long
after I started working at ICCFA, I was
having lunch with my parents and I said,
“Mom, remember how a few years ago
you told us that you and Dad had bought
your mausoleum space and everything
was all preplanned? Have y’all planned
your funeral?” She gave me a dirty look
and said, “Certainly not. That would be
morbid.” I told my brothers, “Apparently
they think of buying a mausoleum crypt
as just another real estate purchase. It
doesn’t seem to occur to them that they’ll
have to die before they can move in.”
Yes, I’ve been told that a long time ago,
you got married and then you bought the
cemetery plots.
We run into a lot of people whose
parents died without sharing any
information with them. They didn’t want
to talk about funerals, and they didn’t
want to talk about money. So sometimes
the parent passes away and nobody knows
We have lots of people who say, “I'm
not going to let that happen to my kids.” r
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interview by ICCFA Magazine
managing editor Susan Loving

ICCFA Magazine subject spotlight 


Historic Oakwood Cemetery Executive Director
Robin Simonton doesn’t have a sales or marketing staff.
What she does have is a lot of ideas, a dedicated
grounds crew and knowledgeable volunteers.
Turns out, that’s enough.

Photo by Rich Cox
➤Robin Simonton has been executive

director of Historic Oakwood Cemetery,
Raleigh, North Carolina, since November
of 2011. Previously, she was the program
and volunteer services executive at Girl
Scouts—North Carolina Coastal Pines.
She served as the researcher of the book
“Oahu Cemetery: Burial Ground & Historic
Site,” written by Nanette Napoleon in 1997.

➤She holds a bachelor’s degree in U.S.
history from the University of Hawaii and a
master’s degree in historical administration
from Eastern Illinois University.
➤Historic Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh,

North Carolina, was founded in 1867 as a
Confederate cemetery, but incorporated
in 1869 as a cemetery for everyone. It has
more than 22,000 interments on its 102
acres, of which 65 are developed. The
cemetery has a visitor and information
center constructed in 1910 of local granite,
a Memorial Cremation Garden for cremation
burials and a mausoleum for above-ground
full body and cremation entombments.


ICCFA Magazine

On October 24, almost 400 participants came through Oakwood’s Confederate
Cemetery as part of the annual Confederate Lantern Walk. Visitors were escorted
through the cemetery by a costumed guide and watched vignettes about life during
the Civil War. 
Photo by Michael Palko

Oakwood’s past the key to its future
as a place to visit, learn, remember


istoric Oakwood Cemetery is
long on history and short on staff,
but Executive Director Robin
Simonton hasn’t let that stop her from
doing everying she can to bring people into
the Raleigh, North Carolina, cemetery.
A good community outreach program
equals future lot sales and future cemetery
supporters. With the help of the grounds
crew and volunteers and the support of
the cemetery’s board and the surrounding
community, Simonton has built a program
designed to make sure this cemetery with a
storied past has a future.
ICCFA Magazine talked to Simonton
about the outreach program she has
developed in her four years on the job.

Oakwood has been around almost 150
years, but it still has plenty of space to
sell. It says on Oakwood’s website that you
have enough space to accept burials for at
least 200 years.
Yes; we lease 30 acres out of our 102 acres
to the city of Raleigh. The city has a longterm lease; they use the land as a park,
Oakwood Park.
We also have a cell phone tower on it.
They have two ball fields and a dog park on
the land, and they handle the maintenance,
which is great, since we have a small staff.
It’s a great use of our space, and great
for the neighborhood. We started leasing
the land in the 1960s, and renegotiate the
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Below, more than 300 people attended the
cemetery’s first Urn Art & Garden Faire
(National Urn Competition) on April 19,
2015. Ninety-two urns from 17 states were
entered in this competition. 

Photo by Tim Blaisdell

Above, in September,
Oakwood Cemetery
hosted sunrise yoga in
partnership with a local
yoga studio. More than
160 participants came
in at 6:30 am for a free,
hour-long yoga class
held in the open space
entry of the cemetery.
Below, Oakwood Cemetery has three beehives
on its property. They are
maintained by the superintendent, the director
and a representative
from a local monument

Photos by Michael Palko

Above, from “Cure You or Kill You,” an event for
which Oakwood partnered with the Country Doctor Museum. The museum staff brought these old
remedies and presented an interesting program on
medical practices in the 1800s. Photo by Michael Palko
Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

January 2016


Runway ready: Cemetery as muse


or a Raleigh, North Carolina, “Project Runway”-type event,
“Couture for a Cause,” which raised money for a local volunteer
group, designers were assigned to a local organization and asked to
create outfits inspired by it.
The cemetery did not want anything “goth,” Oakwood Executive
Director Robin Simonton said, and designer Mia Pitillo delivered
lovely outfits she said were inspired by the cemetery’s peacefulness.
“I played with the idea of hard and soft to symbolize the fact that
even in the toughest times of people’s lives, this cemetery can bring
them peace,” Pitillo said.
Left, the couture outfit: “This gown was also inspired by the
elegance of the past. It was done in a peaceful lavender color and
has silver beading on the top. There is a cape attached to this dress to
represent the legacy left behind by the ones whom we have lost.”
Right, the ready-to-wear outfit: “Since this cemetery focuses on
history, I decided to use the 1950s and ’60s as my inspiration. The
black leather skirt was inspired by a classic circle skirt but with added
drama, including hand-beading. The top is a flirty blouse with a floral
pattern, because Oakwood requested I incorporate a floral design.” r 

Photos by Jim Clark Stevenson

Left and above, the outfits
designed by Mia Pitillo,
inspired by Historic Oakwood


Every cemetery, historic or new, has its own neighborhood, its community of people
interred there. I knew from giving tours for years that there were a lot of potential partnerships here,
and we just had to do a better job of finding those partnerships.—Robin Simonton
lease every decade or so. It’s nice to know
that our neighbors get to use the land in a
different way than they will someday.
I was going to say, some people might
want to be buried where they used to play
Little League ball.
Right. We recently sold a crypt in our
mausoleum in the back, overlooking the
dog park. The people want to be facing the
dog park as a way of remembering how
important their pets were to them.
What size staff do you have?
There’s me, Superintendent Sam Smith, the
foreman, Wink Batts, and three full-time
and one part-time grounds crew member
(Y Than Apout, Ki Rolan, Ydjang Nie and
Mit Siu).
My assistant/receptionist Charlene Stell
is a volunteer, as is historian Bruce Miller,
a retired private school headmaster who
taught history. Archivist Jorja Frasier is a
retiree who used to work at Elmwood in
Memphis, another historic cemetery, so
that’s very helpful. And we occasionally
have an intern from the local college. Right
now, that is Sandy Nguyen.
Let’s talk about the amazing calendar of
events Oakwood Cemetery has, despite
the cemetery’s small staff. Are most of
your events held every year, or do you

ICCFA Magazine

change them a lot?
Both. We do have a lot of good old stand­
bys, such as our First Friday Flashlight
Tours, which we do six months out of the
year. Every year the local theater company
does a production on our grounds based on
our residents.
And then we add in new things. This
summer I added a luncheon lecture series,
which we had never done before.
We just hosted a private cocktail party
for alumnae from a local women’s college,
Meredith College.
How long have you been at Oakwood?
Four years next month.
Do you know when Oakwood started
holding events?
Four years ago! Actually, since about
2005 I’ve been giving tours out here as
a volunteer. We did tours, a successful
Memorial Day event and maybe an
occasional photo contest, but that was all.
Was expanding the events one of your
goals when you were hired?
Yes; really expanding our community
presence was my big goal. Every cemetery,
historic or new, has its own neighborhood,
its community of people interred there. I
knew from giving tours for years that there

were a lot of potential partnerships here,
and we just had to do a better job of finding
those partnerships.
That was what I was thinking about
from day one: With whom could we
work? What restaurants, what community
organizations would want to come in here
if we could make a strong enough link to
that organization?
So we’re constantly working to establish
connections. Take Meredith College. The
architect who designed the college’s first
building is buried here, as is a woman
who was the school nurse for 37 years,
from 1897 to 1934. You can do a whole
program based on those people and how
they contributed to the development of the
college, making the program personal for
the alumnae.
Were the tours you had been giving as
a volunteer about the people buried at
No. I had been giving tours about
monument art and symbolism, so I didn’t
know an awful lot of the history, because
I’m not from Raleigh. But I had been
on other tours, and had started making a
mental list.
What was the first event you added after
being hired?
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January 2016


of the previous century, to talk about the
horrible ways people died in the 1800s.
We stumbled across one horrible death and
thought, “We’re bound to have more.”
Raleigh doesn’t have a lot of house
museums, so we try to fill some of that
void of providing people with more social
Sometimes the historian or I will go to
one of the other historic cemeteries in the
city and see if we can find a connection to
our cemetery. For example, the different
stonecarvers who might have worked at
Raleigh City Cemetery, which opened up
100 years before Oakwood.
We’re seriously researching one of
the stonecutters. We could talk about the
different types of signatures on stones and
who those stonecarvers were, what their
specialties were. We’re working very hard
on that.
Or we might go to the city-owned
African American cemetery, Mount Hope,
and look at who we have with connections
to that cemetery, which opened up around
the same time as Oakwood.
We serve everyone today, but obvi­
ously in the 1860s, cemeteries were very
segregated. Oakwood had an employee
who died here, but is buried at the African
Photos by Michael Palko
American cemetery. We’re trying to figure
The cemetery hosts an annual All Saints’ Day service on the first Sunday of
out what other connections we have to that
November. A different area church “adopts” the service each year, providing the
historic cemetery.
clergy and the homily. Names of those interred the past year are read (by family
That’s a conversation that Americans
request) and music is provided by the Raleigh Moravian Church Brass Band.
don’t always want to bring up, right? We’re
trying to find the grave of the man who
Are you looking for a particular mix of
The first big event was a Mother’s Day tea.
I started around the end of November 2011, events, or trying to hold a certain number worked and died here, so that we can honor
him at Oakwood with a marker and plant
per month?
and the tea was in May 2012. Everyone
knows West Laurel Hill is where Anna
My board chair always says not to go for a a tree in his name and talk a little bit about
Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day is
scoop of ice cream, go for a steak. In other why there are two different cemeteries in
buried. Madeline Jones Procter, who as a
words, go big. So if I can’t do it and expect this town, and what our connections are
with Mount Hope.
teenager worked for Jarvis and went through to attract at least 50 people, I’m probably
Mount Hope is literally patterned after
that process with her to make Mother’s Day not going to do it at this point.
terms of its landscape design. So
a holiday, is buried at Oakwood.
I like to think of something interesting
about how that cemetery started
And she had a huge family, all here in
that people don’t expect to learn in a
helps us tell a more complete story of the
Raleigh. We reached out to them and to our cemetery—that’s a big thing for me. You
history of our city, not just the history of
community and held a big tea on the street
wouldn’t expect to come to the cemetery
our cemetery.
right next to her grave. We served sweet tea and learn about Mother’s Day. You
and lemonade, and then we went on a tour
I thought the events that brought
wouldn’t expect to come to the cemetery
of famous women buried in the cemetery.
school­children into the cemetery were
and learn about medical practices in the
We had about 50 people present, and it was 1870s (another event we partnered with
particularly interesting. What were you
a really fun event.
someone for). You wouldn’t expect to come trying to accomplish through outreach
We had a lot of support from the family,
basically to people who we hope won’t
to the cemetery for a science fair.
which was the neatest part about it. So many
be needing your services for a very long
I don’t really have a set number per
times in these old cemeteries, the families
month, but we’re always working on
are long gone or all buried in the family plot. something. The past two days, we’ve
My previous job, while I was volunteering
And we got a little story in the newspaper.
been working on a list of ghastly deaths
at the cemetery was with the Girl Scouts. In
After that, we hit the ground running.

ICCFA Magazine

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page 41

Historic Oakwood Cemetery
2015 calendar of events

April 3, 7 p.m., First Friday Flashlight Tour
April 19, Urn Art & Garden Faire,
National Urn Competition
May 1, 7:30 p.m.,
First Friday Flashlight Tour
May 15-17, 7 p.m., Burning Coal Theatre
performs “Oakwood Lives”
May 25, 3 p.m., Memorial Day Service
at Oakwood’s Field of Honor
June 5, 7:30-9 p.m., First Friday
Flashlight Tour
June 24, noon–1 p.m., Lunch & Lecture
Series: Monument Art & Symbolism
July 3, 7:30-9 p.m., First Friday
Flashlight Tour
July 15, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Read in Peace
Book Club, “Killing Lincoln”
July 22, noon-1 p.m., Lunch & Lecture
Series: Transplanted Souls
July 31, 8:30-10 p.m., Lunar Stroll:
Photographing Oakwood Cemetery
After Hours
August 7, 7:30-9 p.m.,
First Friday Flashlight Tour
August 19, noon-1 p.m., Lunch &
Lecture Series: 5 Wishes
(prepared by Transitions Life Care)
September 4, 7 p.m.,
First Friday Flashlight Tour
September 23, 6:30 p.m.,
Read in Peace Book Club, “Asleep”
October 2, 7-8:30 p.m.,
First Friday Flashlight Tour
October 24, 6-10 p.m.,
Confederate Lantern Walk
October 28, 6:30 p.m., Read in Peace
Book Club, “A Brief History of the Dead”
November 1, 3-4 p.m.,
All Saints’ Day Service
November 1, 7-10 p.m., Day of the
Dead Story Telling Event (to benefit the
Brentwood Boys and Girls Club)
December 2, 6:30 p.m., Read in Peace
Book Club, “Lookaway, Lookaway”
December 12, noon-1 p.m.,
Wreaths Across America Service
December 13, 7 p.m., Compassionate
Friends Candlelighting Service


ICCFA Magazine


Death-care is changing very quickly; cremation rates don’t go
down, that’s for sure. So both kids and adults have to see
that this is really just like any other outdoor museum.
And bringing in kids also brings their parents.—Robin Simonton
2006, we did an event called Monumental
Fun, where we invited the Girl Scouts
to hold an event about the cemetery. We
brought in more than 300 girls over two
weekend; it was a hugely popular event.
So when I got this job, I already knew
that kids will come to the cemetery. And
we don’t want them to be scared of the
cemetery, we want them to come and enjoy
Oakwood as these historic cemeteries were
intended to be enjoyed—as social centers,
as parks.
West Laurel Hill or Laurel Hill in
Philadelphia had hosted a science fair, so
we decided to do it. It ended up being,
according to the North Carolina Science
Festival, the most creative event they’d
Why bring in young people? You have
to create supporters, even at the youngest
of ages. In 100 years, this cemetery will
need even more people on its side to help
show its relevance, to help show why this
is an important place.
Death-care is changing very quickly;
cremation rates don’t go down, that’s for
sure. So both kids and adults have to see
that this is really just like any other outdoor
museum. And bringing in kids also brings
their parents.
The first science festival we did drew
about 200 people. We made up a mystery
they had to use compasses, measuring tapes
and string to solve. And we had science
experiments where you had to test samples
of marble and samples of granite—all
things we have an abundance of. You had
to do all this to solve the mystery.
There were people of all ages out
here participating. Not just little kids, but
80-year-olds. And it really was kind of eyeopening that people would attend a science
event out here and not even think twice
about where they were. We like that.
We don’t want people thinking this is
a scary place or a haunted place. We want
people to be excited about coming in here
to learn something.
Last year we did an event about the
birds and the bees of Oakwood Cemetery,
because we’re on the bluebird trail and 

Photo by Kat King

Students tackle a mystery in the science
fair event held at the cemetery.

we have beehives, and we wanted folks
to see how we are good stewards of our
land and how the cemetery protects land.
If there weren’t a cemetery here, the land
would probably be covered with condos or
expensive McMansions. So we’re lucky the
cemetery is here.
Oakwood is in the city, in an old Victorian
neighborhood, right?
Yes; we started before the neighborhood
did. On one side is the Oakwood
neighborhood, full of Victorian homes.
They do a huge home tour. They get so
many trick-or-treaters, the roads are shut
down for Halloween.
They are phenomenal neighbors,
and having them there encourages us
to maintain a high level of community
involvement. We don’t want to be the dud
next door, right?
I was going to ask what kind of staff time
is involved in planning and executing
these events, but I guess the question is
how much of your time is involved? How
do you manage all these events?
I have a 5-year old child, so it’s hard. But
we make our money from selling property,
so most of what I do every day is marketing
the cemetery, one way or the other, and
then working with families to sell property.
I do have my typical cemetery director’s
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Photos by Michael Palko

Above, Oakwood Cemetery has Raleigh’s first Hebrew Cemetery on its
grounds. Right, Charles “WInk” Batts,
the cemetery’s beloved foreman for 28
years, is seen standing at the front gate
before the runners come in for the Day
of the Dead 5k on October 24.

job of going out and giving presentations.
But for Oakwood, that involves giving
presentations about our history. We’re not a
high-pressure kind of place. We’re going to
go and talk about why this place is special
and hope that you decide this is where
you’d like to be.
Selling, working with families, handling
graveside services takes up a lot of my
time, day-to-day. I try to attend every
service. (The superintendent covers for me
on alternating weekends.)
But I do spend some time every day
working on events, whether its planning
a new tour route or a class—we teach a
lifelong learning class through our local
university, or whether it’s doing research
about the cemetery. At night, I’m taking
notes for a project, or emailing myself.
Do you have a lot of volunteers, or do you
lead the tours yourself?
I lead a lot of the tours, but my historian
also leads a lot. It’s probably a 50/50
share with him. This week, we have done
three tours so far and have one left to do.
Everyone wants to be in the cemetery in
October, so it’s a little busier than normal.
On First Friday nights, we do big
tours—we draw 150 people for those—and
the historian and I each lead a group and I
have a 17-year-old docent, Drew Wayland,
who leads a group. Right now, we’re the
only three people who can lead tours. I
need to develop a staff of docent guides.

ICCFA Magazine

It’s on my list of things to do, and a lot
of people have expressed an interest. The
hardest part is writing everything down in
a tour guide form. I’ve looked at the guides
from the local state museum of history and
other historic sites in Raleigh. It’s just a
matter of finding the time to sit down and
actually put all that information together.
Things always come up and it gets bumped
down the to-do list.
Tell me what was involved in holding that
Victorian Mother’s Day tea, for example.
There was the physical set-up of the tables
and tents. Purchasing the food, supplies
and lemonade. Working with the family to
have a display set up about Mother’s Day
and Madeline’s role in in. I also had to
figure out the tour route, making sure I had
enough people to talk about along a route
through the cemetery that made sense and
was wheelchair accessible.
I did all of that. At the time, I did not
have the volunteers. So that’s not really
a sustainable model. Not that anyone
couldn’t do what I do, but it’s not a system
that’s practical long-term, because it’s a lot
of work.
But some of the events are much
simpler for us. For example, the Meredith
College event. Honestly, the college people
came in, set everything up, brought in
caterers. All the historian and I had to do
was come up with a tour. After the tour was
over, everything had been cleaned up.

That’s another good reason for seeking
out partnerships with other organizations
in the community that can handle most of
the work for an event, leaving us to simply
handle the basics.
Are most of your events outdoors?
Yes. My office is small, and the board
room can only handle about a dozen
people. There was a chapel on the grounds,
but it was torn down in the 1960s. We
have a mausoleum, but it’s an openair mausoleum. Without heating or air
conditioning, it can get very hot and very,
very cold.
When we taught a lifelong learning
class for Osher, most classes started in the
mausoleum with a PowerPoint presentation
and then moved out onto the grounds. We
have a Compassionate Friends candlelighting service in December. It’s in the
evening and it’s very cold, so a lot of hot
chocolate, coffee and tea is served.
Our event calendar slows down in
the winter, though I will do walking
tours during the day. We don’t do a lot
of daytime walking tours for the general
public, but in the winter, when I can tell
it’s going to be a nice, sunny day, I’ll do a
walking tour to bring some people to the
Most of your summer walking tours are in
the evenings?
Yes. All of our First Friday tours are flash­
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Bringing people into the cemetery when they don’t need to be here is the biggest goal
we have. It gives people a safe space to ask questions about the cemetery
at a time when they’re not grieving, they’re not worrying about getting a sales pitch.
They’re just enjoying learning about history and about how a cemetery works.—Robin Simonton
light tours that take place at 7 p.m. or later.
Is that to avoid funerals?
Not really; it’s to avoid the heat.
When I started as director, there hadn’t
been any walking tours in about year. The
attendance had dwindled to the point where
only three or four people were attending.
It’s hard to say it’s “not worth it” to bring
three people into the cemetery, but it’s not a
great use of volunteer time.
When we tried nighttime tours, we went
from having three or four people to having
150. Even the tours I do in the middle of
winter will pull more than 100 people. It
just seems to be something the people in
Raleigh like to do.
Do you charge for events?
Most of the time we ask for a donation
of $5 for tours, all of our private events,
things like that. We don’t typically charge
a lot of money. I look at it as an alternative
to advertising—all of our events are
advertising the cemetery. Ultimately, many
of the people who attend come back and
buy property.
So the tours are worth it, and we don’t
need to charge a lot of money for them;
we want to bring more people into the
cemetery. When we started the nighttime
tours, we all thought we might attract a
bunch of 18-year-old goth kids, but we
actually attract mostly 40-to-60-year-olds.
It’s a great way for them to scope out the
cemetery without worrying that someone’s
going to give them a sales pitch.
We advertise the events through
Groupon, Living Social, on our Facebook
page, on our website, through free calendar
listings in the newspaper. Sometimes news
crews come out and give us some publicity.
With something like the Meredith College
event, the group holding the event handles
What events have been most and least
Our biggest event ever was last year’s Urn
Art and Garden Faire, which was covered
in an Associated Press story that got picked
up around the world—one of our board
members read about it in Europe.

ICCFA Magazine 

Photo by Michael Palko

Volunteer Glenn Sappie from the Sons
of the American Revolution North
Carolina Chapter places a wreath on the
grave of a veteran for Wreaths Across
America Day in December 2014. Each
year, the cemetery staff selects a new
photographer in residence, a volunteer who takes photos at events and
throughout the seasons to capture the
essence of Oakwood. Michael Palko
was the photographer for 2014-2015.

We had 92 urns from 17 states, and
drew about 300 people on a horrible rainy
day. Having people see the cemetery as a
place for the arts and having conversations
about cremation urns being placed at the
cemetery, we considered it a huge success.
Our least successful event was called
“Summer Nights.” It was supposed to be a
family fun night, and I could not get people
to come. I don’t know if the promotion
wasn’t right or what. I was very bummed
that it didn’t work—it was the first time
something flopped.
What are you trying to accomplish with
Bringing people into the cemetery when
they don’t need to be here is the biggest
goal we have. It gives people a safe space
to ask questions about the cemetery at a
time when they’re not grieving, they’re
not worrying about getting a sales pitch.
They’re just enjoying learning about
history and about how a cemetery works.
For example, for our first lifelong

learning class this year, we showed people
how we prepare a grave. People were
taking notes; they were asking a million
questions. For the next six weeks, they
talked about that day where they learned
something completely new to them.
As the person who’s handling sales,
anytime you can bring people in to learn
about the cemetery it’s a good day, because
you’re laying the groundwork for future
We want to be what Victorian
cemeteries were: Social places. Places
where people can enjoy and reflect on life.
Places where people enjoy the beauty of
the grounds.
Yoga has become a “thing” at
cemeteries, and we hosted a yoga class a
few weeks ago. One hundred and 60 people
came out at 6:30 a.m. for a free yoga class
held in our front entry field. The newspaper
put it on the front page the next day. The
article focused on a woman who had come
to the class because her father is buried
here, and she saw it as a way to spend
time with him. It was beautiful. That helps
people see the importance of the cemetery.
One day I was at a service and I heard
a woman say to her friend, “This is such
a waste of space.” I was appalled, and I
decided I was going to make sure that no
one else ever thinks Historic Oakwood
Cemetery is a waste of space.
Aside from the fact that comment was
horribly disrespectful to the families who
have chosen to place their loved ones in
this cemetery, it’s also an insult to the city
that has loved and supported Oakwood.
And we’re good stewards of our land.
We also try to be good stewards to
other community organizations. There’s
an organization in Raleigh called Activate
Good, which does volunteer matching. For
example, they helped me find volunteers
when the Day of the Dead race came
through the cemetery. So we volunteered to
be part of their fundraiser.
The fundraiser was a fashion show,
“Couture for a Cause.” A local designer
was matched with Oakwood and created
two looks inspired by the cemetery for a
fancy runway show. (Ed: Photos, cover and
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page 47


I look at what Spring Grove does, and I think, “They have bees. Why can’t we have bees?”
So now we have bees. The cemetery superintendent and I are our beekeepers.—Robin Simonton 

page 38.) We had to fill out a form listing
the words that come to mind when you’re
in the cemetery.
Do you have a plan for making sure you
don’t burn out eventually and say, “Oh,
the heck with it”?
First, I’m making sure that everything we
do is written down so that if I get hit by a
bus tomorrow, the cemetery can continue to
do these activities. Because it is replicable.
This is a plug for you guys, big time, but
when I first got this job, the cemetery did
not get the ICCFA Magazine regularly.
So Oakwood wasn’t a member?
We are now. But they were not then. And
the first thing my board chair said to me
was, “Find an organization you can join
and learn from.” And I found you guys,
obviously. We joined, and I have never
regretted it, because so many of my ideas
come from reading your magazine.
We go through them and cut things out;
we have a notebook of ideas we want to
try. I download the white papers. I go to the
website. I buy the articles, all the Spring
Grove “Smitty & Fife” columns. I look
at what Spring Grove does, and I think,
“They have bees. Why can’t we have
bees?” So now we have bees. The cemetery
superintendent and I are our beekeepers.

ICCFA Magazine

You do what it takes to make it
work. We found someone from the local
monument company that wanted to help us
occasionally. And we found a good mentor.
The point is, you don’t have to have a
huge staff. We’re never going to have a
huge staff.
I had wanted yoga at the cemetery so
badly. Finally we scheduled the class, then
the story on the yoga class came out the
same day as the coverage of the North
Carolina state budget. It turned out the
budget story got 4 inches, and we got the
rest of the front page!
What that told us is that if we can do
this with my little tiny staff, any cemetery
can do this. And other cemeteries will
help you. I’ve got Elmwood in Memphis,
Tennessee, and Hollywood in Richmond,
Virginia, on speed dial, and when I need
help, I call them for advice.
I look to them because they’re Southern
cemeteries like we are. I can’t necessarily
say, “Well, Mount Auburn in Massachusetts
does this …” That might not fly in the
But you shouldn’t let the size of your
staff stop you. We all have these amazing
stories in our cemeteries—that’s what it
comes back to, every time.

Photos by Michael Palko

Left, Memorial Day always brings out
a large crowd to Oakwood’s Field of
Honor Veterans’ Section.
Above, a cemetery board member and
a 93-year-old WWII Army captain place
a memorial wreath during the service.
Canopy tents for shade, refreshments
and the wreath are sponsored or provided by local funeral homes.

Does Oakwood have a friends group?
Yes; the urn competition was their first
activity, and they’ll be starting to work on
the second one soon. We’ll also be looking
for their help to celebrate Oakwood’s 150th
anniversary in four years—that will be their
main focus.
We also would like to achieve 501(c)3
status someday. We’re a 501(c)13 right
now. We would like the friends group to
have that (c)3 status.
Ultimately our goal is to be able to
continue to do some of these activities and
events with a lot more hands on deck so
that it is a sustainable model, and so that
we can continue to grow.
We’re really grateful that Raleigh
has supported our community outreach.
We’ve put together a scrapbook, and it’s
unbelievable the amount of media stories
we’ve gotten.
When the media come to us to look for
a story, when they think, “We need a good
story about a certain topic, we’ll see what
the cemetery has,” we feel like we have
done our jobs.
And we’re lucky to be in a town that is
so supportive of everything we do; we’re
lucky. Raleigh is friendly to the idea of a
cemetery thinking outside the box.
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January 2016


by Tanya Scotece, CFSP, Ph.D.
Amanda LeBlanc, MA, and
Stephen Roggenbaum, MA
ICCFA Magazine author spotlight

➤Scotece is a funeral direc-

tor and Certified Celebrant
with Farley Funeral Homes &
Crematory, Venice, Florida.
The family-owned company
also owns a cemetery, Venice Memorial

➤She received her Ph.D. from the University

of South Florida (Tampa) in curriculum and
instruction with emphasis in adult education.
Her research has focused on funeral service.
➤In 2008, she became a trained funeral celebrant through the ICCFA University College
of 21st Century Funeral Services. She graduated from ICCFAU in 2011 and was chosen
as valedictorian.
➤LeBlanc is a Ph.D. student

in the Department of Communication at the University
of South Florida. She studies media and entertainment
culture through a feminist and
critical race theory lens.
➤She co-authored an article on the relationship of mandatory mental health examinations and suicide risk. She co-authored the
2012 Youth-Based School Suicide Prevention
Guide update with Roggenbaum.
➤Roggenbaum is a faculty

member at the University of
South Florida in the Department of Child & Family Studies
and within the de la Parte
Florida Mental Health Institute
in Tampa.
➤He currently serves as co-investigator and
training coordinator for a three-year Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration-funded University South
Florida campus suicide prevention grant.
➤He is one of four gubernatorial appointees
(two-time appointee) to the Florida Suicide
Prevention Coordinating Council. He and
a research team designed and crafted the
Youth Suicide Prevention school-based
guide, listed in the Suicide Prevention
Resource Center’s best practices registry for
suicide prevention.
➤He teaches an undergraduate class on
suicide issues in behavioral healthcare and
serves on several local suicide prevention
task forces.


ICCFA Magazine


All grieving family members must be handled with compassion
and care, but the families of those who have died of suicide
require funeral directors and other funeral home staff to take
extra care with how they respond to and help the survivors.

Funeral staff as first responders:
Helping families & friends when
a loved one has died by suicide


long with police, medical personnel
and clergy, funeral directors and
other funeral home staff members
are among the primary responders for the
families and loved ones of those who have
died by suicide.
While statistically a rare event, suicide is
the 10th leading cause of death overall in the
United States (Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention WISQARS, 2015). Research
indicates that individuals exposed to death by
suicide may be at increased risk for suicidal
behavior themselves (Jordan & McIntosh,
As first responders, funeral directors have
the potential to play a key role in alleviating
the pain and confusion surrounding a suicide
death, as well as in suicide prevention. This
article is not meant to be exhaustive but rather
a brief guide to help funeral directors with
their interactions with individuals who have
lost a loved one to suicide.
The unique stress of losing a family
member to suicide poses professional and
emotional challenges for funeral staff called
on to assist the grieving family. Grieving
family and friends of the deceased, hereafter
referred to as survivors, often look to
funeral staff for vital information about the
circumstances of the death.
The Suicide Prevention Action Network
(SPAN) recommends responding simply
and compassionately while being careful not
to give answers or information that should
come from the medical examiner or law
Questions from survivors can sometimes
be relentless, particularly when the traumatic
loss is new (SPAN, 2008; WPSN, 2008).
The Winnipeg Suicide Prevention Network
(WSPN) recommends relaying important
information about the death in a factual yet
non-descriptive manner. When the funeral

director reveals that he or she is comfortable
in discussing suicide, survivors may feel
more free to speak openly about this type of

Responding with compassion

Survivors of a death by suicide in particular
can find that sadness is combined with
confusion, guilt or even, in some cases, relief.
Much research indicates that up to 90
percent of adults and youth who die by
suicide suffered from a mental illness and/
or substance abuse disorder (Moskos,
Olson, Halbern, Keller, & Gray, 2005;
USDHHS, 2012), both of which are still quite
stigmatized in the U.S.
Survivors sometimes experience a
sense of guilt and may wonder, “Was I too
hard on her?” or “What could I have done
to save him?” Funeral directors can and
should support survivors with sensitive and
nonjudgmental responses and concern.
One recommended response:
“Sudden death can be a shocking and
overwhelming. Your reactions are normal and
Everyone grieves in his or her own way,
and mourning someone who has taken his/
her own life adds to the complex emotions
loved ones might feel. The WSPN (2008)
stresses that “being present and genuine
with the person in their time of grief and
acknowledging their tragic loss shows real
concern and acknowledges for all involved
the impact that death has had” (p. 7).
It is also important to recognize the
spectrum of feelings survivors might
experience, including guilt, anger and relief.
Your role as funeral director is not to
counsel loved ones that they “have done
all they could,” an assertion that can be
construed as dismissive or futile. Rather,
SPAN recommends reminding the person
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Funeral directors may hear survivors confess feelings of betrayal that their loved one
has “left” them or that their loved one was weak for “giving in” to suicide.
Reiterating that this death was a tragedy with many contributing and complex factors
acknowledges the deceased’s struggle as well as the survivor’s pain (SPAN, 2008).
that you are there for support—wherever
they are emotionally.
Funeral directors may hear survivors
confess feelings of betrayal that their loved
one has “left” them or that their loved
one was weak for “giving in” to suicide.
Reiterating that this death was a tragedy
with many contributing and complex factors
acknowledges the deceased’s struggle as well
as the survivor’s pain (SPAN, 2008).
Finally, if the deceased was very ill and
difficult be to be around, those close to him
or her may express relief that he or she is
no longer here. They may be burdened by a
sense of guilt for feeling this way.
SPAN reminds us: “It is not the role
of funeral directors or others to judge, or
to encourage loved ones to experience or
acknowledge feelings of grief or profound
sorrow that they simply don’t have—and
maybe never will” (p. 9). Simply being
present to listen with acute sensitivity is a
funeral director’s difficult yet crucial role.
Another way funeral directors can support
survivors of suicide loss is through the careful
use of language. Several publications for
funeral staff recommend the direct and honest
use of the word “suicide” (Rosenthal, 2014).
However, it is important to avoid stigmatizing
phrases such as “committed suicide” or
“made a successful/failed suicide attempt.”
“Commit” tends to connote sinful or
criminal behavior, while a “successful” or
“completed” attempt indicates that the person
achieved a goal. Instead, try to use forthright
and nonjudgmental language, including the
phrases “died by suicide” or “made a suicide
Although we may change our language
in order to avoid making moral judgments,
some people of faith believe that taking one’s
own life is a sin. A few publications address
how faith communities and clergy can help
those who have lost loved ones to suicide.
In “The Role of Faith Communities
in Suicide Prevention” (Doty & SpencerThomas, 2009), the authors agree that
compassion for individuals and communities
affected by suicide is a key to healing
Regardless of denomination, there are

ICCFA Magazine

resources within each spiritual tradition to
draw on for guidance (Doty & SpencerThomas, 2009). Many faith groups have
incorporated an understanding of the medical
and sociological factors involved in death by
suicide into their theological understanding of
life and loss (Suicide Prevention Resources
Center [SPRC], 2004).

Helping the family
with practical matters

The funeral director’s main function is, of
course, to plan and arrange the deceased’s
funeral ceremony. Survivors must attend
to a number of practical matters, and the
funeral staff can alleviate some stress and
pain by compassionately guiding them
through the process.
The angst and confusion created by a
suicide death can easily be compounded
by the financial impact of a funeral, burial
or memorial, so the funeral director should
take particular care to assist the family
with this area.
Choosing pallbearers and burial clothes
can also be overwhelming after a death by
suicide, and SPAN notes that some loved
ones will find closure in performing these
duties, while others will only find more
pain. They recommend offering family
and friends the choice to participate, but to
always respect their wishes if they cannot.
These material concerns are not
unrelated to the emotional response of
those affected by the suicide death. In fact,
they “begin the survivors’ confrontation
with the ramifications of death and loss”
(NAASP, 2015, p. 31).
The funeral director also can provide
support by sensitively assisting family
through actions such as returning the
deceased’s personal effects and connecting
with the armed forces for a veteran’s
Funeral staff also can help the survivors
with the obituary, including making the
decision about whether or not to include
the manner of death. As with other final
arrangements, listen to and respect the
wishes of the family.
Several publications support using the
word “suicide” and/or “mental illness” in

an obituary, if acceptable to the family.
Being frank about the manner of death
reduces stigma and allows grievers to
address their loss and frustration (WSPN,
The Ontario Funeral Service Association
has a pamphlet with several suggestions
for compassionate obituary statements
after a suicide death (
Finally, after pressing and obvious
matters are addressed, the funeral director
could simply ask, “How else can I help
you?” or “What do you need right now?”
(SPAN). Be sure that the survivors’ basic
needs are being met, including food, water,
access to phones and transportation.

Helping with prevention
and “postvention”

Sensitive and careful responses from
funeral directors regarding both emotional
and practical issues not only is a compas­
sionate way to treat mourners, but also
plays a crucial role in reducing subsequent
self-injury or death by suicide.
Research indicates that exposure to a
death by suicide increases a person’s risk
for mental health issues, substance abuse,
post-traumatic stress disorder, social
isolation and suicide (NAASP, 2015).
As first responders working with some
of the closest survivors of the deceased,
funeral directors play a vital role in suicide
prevention and postvention. Postvention
refers to an intervention for the grieving
community of survivors after a death by
suicide. These sympathetic and helpful
acts should alleviate stress and promote
Compassionate and sincere support
given to address the emotional and
practical needs of the deceased’s family
and friends should be a first step for
funeral staff. By using non-judgmental
language and empathetically listening to
those grieving, the funeral director and
staff can lessen the level of stress, guilt
and shame that survivors are likely to feel
following the suicide (Rosenthal, 2014).
An instance may occur where a director
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Choosing pallbearers and burial clothes can also be overwhelming after a death
by suicide, and SPAN notes that some loved ones will find closure in performing these duties,
while others will only find more pain. They recommend offering family and friends
the choice to participate, but to always respect their wishes if they cannot.
or staff member may sense that a mourner
is at risk for suicide or self-harm. A list of
suicide warning signs can found at www.
viewpage&page_id=705f4071-99a7-f3f5e2a64a5a8beaadd8 and includes talking
about wanting to die or kill/harm oneself,
talking about having no reason to live,
wanting to join the deceased or looking for a
method of self-harm.
Although a funeral director may not know
the grieving family member or friends outside
of the funeral home setting, SPAN notes that
staff should be aware of survivors exhibiting
erratic behaviors or being under the influence
of drugs or alcohol when they are interacting
with them.
It is important that, regardless of how
survivors are behaving, funeral directors
should still do their best to treat the bereaved
with compassion, as well as work with other
family or friends to try to get the person help.
Suicide loss can quickly compound
underlying issues and struggle. If a member
of the funeral staff feels that a person is in
imminent danger of harming or killing him/
herself, staff should call 911 or the national
suicide prevention hotline immediately. That
number is 1.800.273.8255 (TALK).
The funeral service itself can help to
reduce a suicide imitation effect, although
careful measures must be taken to neither
dismiss the severity of a suicidal act (that
is, to imply it was a reasonable response
to distress), nor glamorize it. “The service
must make a clear distinction between the
deceased’s positive accomplishments and
their final act” (Rosenthal, 2014, p. 22).
Young people are particularly vulnerable
to suicide contagion (Rosenthal, 2014; SPAN,
2008), so it is particularly important that their
participation in funeral services is considered.
Another important step the funeral
director can take to reduce suicide imitation
is to connect the bereaved to appropriate
grief support services. The funeral home
will provide a first wave of compassion and
assistance, but some survivors may need
additional counseling or information about
depression, mental illness, mourning or
The funeral staff can direct survivors

ICCFA Magazine

toward several helpful resources on the
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
[SPRC] website ( as well as
At the local level, funeral directors and
staff can help guide mourners to members of
clergy in their denomination, to bereavement
or suicide loss support groups or to mental
health counselors in the area. Information
about the national suicide prevention hotline
(1.800.273.8255) and local hotlines could be
distributed during services.
The USDHHS (2012) encourages first
responders to be prepared to assist survivors
with a variety of support services. These
include support groups (both online and
face-to-face), educational literature, survivor
outreach teams and referrals to clinicians.

Funeral directors’ self-care

A death by suicide not only affects the
deceased’s family and friends but also can
have a profound impact on first responders.
Funeral directors and staff are, of course,
accustomed to dealing with death and its
aftermath, but assisting others with the
complex nature of suicide death can be
particularly stressful to them.
Throughout the process of supporting the
bereaved, the funeral director and staff are
exposed to “vicarious trauma.” Funeral staff
themselves may feel angst, confusion or guilt
due to their interactions with the grieving
family, personal experiences and even from
their repeated experiences with tragedy and
loss (WSPN, 2008).
Friends and family of the deceased may
direct their anger, confusion and guilt toward
the funeral director, placing more stress on
those who are trying to support and help
Several publications warn funeral directors
in particular about compassion fatigue,
whereby the stress of working with suicide
survivors compounds into caregiver burnout
(SPAN, 2008; WSPN, 2008). It is crucial
that funeral directors address stress and take
steps to take care of themselves, mentally and
SPAN recommends remembering to
take part in hobbies and activities outside of
work that can revitalize you. These include

exercising, eating well, taking part in selfreflection, getting adequate sleep and making
time for friends.
They also remind funeral staff to ask for
help when they need it, including with daily
practical activities, as well as for mental
health support or counseling. “Seeking
emotional and psychological support
promotes resilience and healthy coping”
(WSPN, 2008, p. 15).
The Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force
National Guidelines acknowledge that first
responders may need assistance with their
own grief and trauma in order to alleviate
compassion fatigue. By attending to their
emotional responses and responsibilities,
funeral directors and their staffs will be able
to better provide compassion, sensitivity and
support to the communities they serve.

A funeral director’s perspective

Having served families whose loved ones
died by suicide, I recognize that the family’s
grieving process and the arrangement
conference are completely different from
those in any other type of death.
For example, many families have no idea
of how to proceed in making arrangements.
They will ask whether to be forthcoming with
the suicide information—whether or not to
tell the rest of the world how the person died.
Some suicides occur in public places,
such as when a person jumps from a building
or bridge. Even in these situations, it is
important to help a family decide if they
want to reveal the manner of death. When
the suicide involves a young person, it can
complicate the decision to make public the
manner of death.
I have served some families whose loved
one was diagnosed with a terminal illness
such as cancer, and the person chose to
end his or her life by suicide, so it wasn’t
“the cancer that got them” in the end. In
such cases, the family often spends a lot of
time struggling with whether the death by
suicide should become public knowledge
or be kept private. In one such case where a
man had chosen to end his own life after a
serious diagnosis, I discussed with his widow
the pros and cons of revealing his manner
of death. In the end, she decided she was
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The funeral service itself can help to reduce a suicide imitation effect,
although careful measures must be taken to neither dismiss the severity of a suicidal act
(that is, to imply it was a reasonable response to distress), nor glamorize it.

comfortable making the information public.
Three years later, I ran into her at a picnic.
When she saw me, she said, “I’m so glad we
decided to make it public, because it saved
me from so much anguish.” She recognized
her husband’s suicide was his decision alone,
she was not responsible and she, therefore,
didn’t have to hide anything.
Although funeral directors are not
psychologists, we are “first-hand responders”
when making arrangements with these
families. Many families feel guilt for the
person’s death. They often feel they could
have done something that would have
prevented it.
This isn’t true, but nonetheless, they feel
responsible, so their grief is compounded
because not only are they mourning the loss
of that person, they also are mourning the fact
that they could not help their loved one in his
or her darkest hour.
In such cases, families and friends are left
completely devastated. The grief of families
dealing with suicide is coupled with shock
and guilt. As a funeral director, my goal is
to get the family to the point where they can
recognize and focus on the person’s life,
rather than on his or her manner of death.
We discuss celebrant services, and most of
my suicide families have chosen a celebration
of life focused on positive memories rather
than on how their loved ones chose to end
their lives.
In my experience, suicide knows no
boundaries. I have seen the richest of the rich
and the poorest of the poor affected—there is
no common denominator. A funeral director’s
biggest challenge in the case of a suicide is to
assist the family in grieving properly rather
than having guilt overtake them about being
unable to prevent the death.
I’d also like to add here that sometimes we
think we know what depressed people look
like—disheveled, unkempt, unemployed,
etc., but this isn’t true. Individuals at risk
for suicide can be successful people who
appear to have the world by a string, and
it takes friends and family completely by
surprise when they choose to end their lives
by suicide.
During the past year, we have seen an
increase in female suicides by gunshot. This
is atypical but seems to be on the increase.

ICCFA Magazine

In cases of suicide, often depression
overcomes a person to the point that he or she
can no longer cope with life. Some people
are really good at hiding their depression,
so when a suicide occurs, the family may be
completely shocked.
In any case, for funeral directors dealing
with the survivors in suicide cases, the key
is to listen to the family, offer opinions for
memorializing that person’s life completely
free of judgment and focus on the good in
that person’s life.
It is also important for the funeral home
to offer services for families who differ from
the norm. I always suggest a celebrant service
when families feel uncomfortable about reli­
gious services in the case of suicide. I also
emphasize that the family does not have to
have a wake or visitation if they don’t want
At our funeral home, we average a dozen
services per year for individuals who died
by suicide, and those people come from all
walks of life. Depression is a topic that needs
further examination and understanding. We
take people at face value—their actions are
OK, they look OK, so we are not aware
of how they are really feeling. What does
depression look like? It deserves more study.
Information contained in this article is
primarily from the Suicide Prevention Action
Network’s [SPAN*] “Supporting Survivors of
Suicide Loss: A Guide for Funeral Directors”
(2008) (
library/funeraldirectors.pdf), The National
Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s
[AASP] “Responding to Grief, Trauma,
and Distress After a Suicide: U.S. National
Guidelines” (2015) (www.surgeongeneral.
gov/library/reports/national-strategy-suicideprevention/full-report.pdf), the Winnipeg
Suicide Prevention Network’s [WSPN] “A
Guide for Early Responders Supporting
Survivors Bereaved by Suicide” (2008)
pdf), and the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services [USDHHS] 2012 “National
Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and
Objectives for Action” (www.surgeongeneral.
Funeral directors interested in learning

more about suicide prevention, including risk
factors, warning signs and protective factors,
can seek out general training that might be
available locally, or online at or
* Suicide Prevention Action Alliance
(SPAN) was formed in 1996 by a husband
and wife who were survivors of the suicide of
their daughter. In May 2009, SPAN merged
with AFSP and serves as the public policy
division of the American Foundation for
Suicide Prevention.


National Action Alliance for Suicide
Prevention. (2015). “Responding to Grief,
Trauma, and Distress After a Suicide: U.S.
National Guidelines.”
Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention: Web-based Injury and Statistics
Query and Reporting System. (2015).
“Leading causes of death reports.” Retrieved
Doty, T., & Spencer-Thomas, S. (2009).
“The Role of Faith Communities in Suicide
Prevention: A Guidebook for Faith Leaders.”
Golden, CO: Carson J. Spencer Foundation.
Moskos, M., Olson, L., Halbern, S.,
Keller, T., & Gray, D. (2005). Utah youth
suicide study: “Psychological autopsy.
Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior,”
35(5), 536-546.
Rosenthal, M. (2014). “How to prevent
the spread of youth suicide.” The Forum,
80(8), 20-22.
Suicide Prevention Action Network.
(2008). “Supporting Survivors of Suicide
Loss: A Guide for Funeral Directors.”
Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
(2004). “After a Suicide: Recommendations
for Religious Services and Other Public
Memorial Observances.” Newton, MA:
Education Development Center, Inc.
Winnipeg Suicide Prevention Network.
(2008). “A Guide for Early Responders
Supporting Survivors Bereaved by Suicide.”
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, Office of the Surgeon General,
and National Action Alliance for Suicide
Prevention. (2012). “2012 National Strategy
for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives
for Action.” Washington, D.C. 
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page 57

by Gail Rubin, CT, CC
ICCFA Magazine
author spotlight
➤Rubin, The Doyenne

of Death, is based in
Albuquerque, New
Mexico. She is a
Certified Thanatologist,
a death educator who
uses humor and funny films to teach about
end-of-life planning issues, grief and
religious funeral traditions. She “knocked
’em dead” with her 2015 TEDxABQ talk,
“A Good Goodbye,” a thought-provoking
eight-and-a-half-minute discourse on
the need to prepare advanced medical
directives and do preneed funeral
planning. See the TEDx talk online at:

➤She’s the author of the
award-winning book and
host of the TV and radio
show “A Good Goodbye:
Funeral Planning for
Those Who Don’t Plan
to Die.”
book is “Hail and Fare­
well: Cremation Ceremo­
nies, Templates and
Tips.” (See page 77 for
more information.) She
also creates Mortality
Minute radio spots and
online videos.
➤She is a Certified Funeral Celebrant and
a pioneer of the Death Café movement
in the United States. Her certification in
thanatology comes from the Association for
Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).
➤Rubin regularly contributes to ICCFA
Magazine and other funeral trade
magazines. You can see her coverage of
previous ICCFA expos and other industry
conventions at The Family Plot Blog:


ICCFA Magazine


When you carve out a career for yourself as an expert
about death, you’re going to get some interesting questions
from the public, and you’d better have some answers ready.

Lola, the Albuquerque Death Café mascot, with Bech Hemmerich, the coordinator
of TEDx Adventures. Gail Rubin, CT, CC, gave a TEDx talk about advanced medical
directives and preneed funeral planning.

Questions people ask about
death—and death care


hen you’re The Doyenne of
Death and you put your phone
number on your website, you
get asked some strange questions.
The phone call came late on a
Wednesday afternoon. A woman calling
from Atlanta started by praising my blog,
The Family Plot. Then things got weird.
She began a rambling story about
her mother’s death while being served
by hospice, saying, “She was ready, she
needed to die.” Her sister, who was the
mother’s caregiver in another state, didn’t
tell the caller that Mom had died until 30
days after her passing.

By then Mom had been cremated
without an autopsy. The will had been
changed in the sister’s favor, and the caller
was suspicious that Mom had been killed
and cremated to cover up the deed.
She wanted to know if I’d heard about
other such suspicious deaths and wanted
me to write about it. I suggested she call
the police or hire a private investigator
to get the real story. She sent a follow-up
email, accusing me of hiding the truth.
“You know how the system works and that
thousands of people are killed before their
time every day.”
That was one of the wackier questions

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After the tour, one person asked me, “How do you start the funeral planning conversation with
someone who doesn’t want to talk about it?” My top two recommendations: lead by example,
by making your own funeral plans, and watch a funny film or TV show related to funerals.
for such a service. The requirement for a
brain autopsy is for a full brain autopsy so
(sorry to point this out) the full brain organ
needs to be looked at.
“To keep this brief, I am looking for an
expert in the funeral business or hospice
care, or both, who may be able to offer
some advice as to how to best handle the
logistics of such a service, meaning would
it make sense to offer such service through
funeral homes or hospice or other, and
would funeral homes support the idea or
not want the hassle.
“Hopefully this is not one of the
stranger emails you have received.”
In fact, this email does take top prize,
at least to date. I suggested he get in touch
with funeral business consultant Dan Isard
to see if he had any good thoughts on the
idea. (You’re welcome, Dan.)
Online, one of my most popular blog
posts on The Family Plot Blog concerns
Greek Orthodox funeral traditions.
Fifty questions and comments have
been posted, including questions about
kolyva (a baked treat served at funerals),
whether it’s proper to send a Mass card
(no, Greek Orthodox don’t do that) and
post-funeral mourning traditions.
It’s ironic that a nice Jewish girl in
Albuquerque, New Mexico, produced
a top Google-ranking post about Greek
Orthodox funerals.
My go-to reliable source is our local
friendly Greek Orthodox priest, Father
Conan Gill.

Questions at live presentations
Rubin, some participants in a Death Café at French Funerals & Cremation and Lola,
the Albuquerque Death Café mascot.

I’ve received. By phone, by email and at
in-person presentations, people have lots
of questions about death and the funeral
business. I do my best to provide sound
answers. What follows is just a sample of
the questions I get.

By email and online

“Hi. I came across your website through
a Google search. I am a business

ICCFA Magazine

development guy working for a pathology
office. They have asked me to look into
the possibility of offering brain autopsy
services for families who seek closure/
answers on a loved one’s dementia. You
may know that dementia types can’t
always be accurately diagnosed but
autopsies can bring answers.
“I am looking for someone in the
hospice or funeral care industry who may
be able to help me identify a logistics route

A crop of death-curious people attended
the TEDx Adventure in follow-up to my
TEDxABQ talk on end-of-life issues. At
a Death Café held at a French Funerals &
Cremations location in Albuquerque, the
event included a full tour of the facilities,
including behind-the-scenes areas.
The attendees peppered location
manager and funeral director Apollo Miller
with questions about funeral traditions,
cremation, green burial, embalming and
After the tour, one person asked me,
“How do you start the funeral planning
conversation with someone who doesn’t
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I’d love to see more funeral homes opening their facilities for tours as we did
with French Funerals & Cremations. People have questions they want answered.
The public needs to see funeral directors in their place of business
during an event other than a funeral.

Funeral director Apollo Miller, location manager for French Funerals & Cremations, gives a tour, talking about cremation products and the prep room and listening to a question from one of the tour participants. The nearly one-hour tour is on YouTube.

want to talk about it?” My top two
recommendations: lead by example, by
making your own funeral plans, and
watch a funny film or TV show related to
Watching the Emmy-winning
“Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode of “The
Mary Tyler Moore Show” from 1975 is the
best 30 minutes you can spend. The story
involves the untimely death of the TV
station’s resident clown and what happens
at his funeral. You’ll laugh, relax and learn.
The program ends with the characters
discussing what they want for their own
funerals, which provides viewers with
the perfect opportunity to start the same
conversation when the show is over. The
program is easily available online or
through DVD rental.
At one of my public presentations
called “Laughing in the Face of Death:
Funny Films for Funeral Planning,”
members of the audience asked a wide
range of questions:

Q: “Can you get a free cremation just
by donating your organs?”
A: No. While the recipients of your
organs and their families will be eternally
grateful for the gift of life you provide,
there is no program that pays for a crema­
tion after you donate your organs. Your
estate is still responsible for funeral

Q: After telling the audience that the
National Funeral Directors Association
survey of funeral costs in 2014 indicated
the national median average cost of a
funeral with a viewing and burial was
$7,181, a vault brought the total to $8,508
and a funeral with cremation was $6,078:
“What do you actually get for that amount
of money?”

A: The breakdown of items included:
non-declinable services fee (for handling
paperwork and arrangements), removal/
transfer of remains to the funeral home,
embalming, other preparation of the body,
use of facilities and staff for the viewing
Q: “Can you donate your organs and
and funeral service, hearse, service car/
still donate your body to science to get a
van, basic memorial printing package and
free cremation?”
a metal casket.
A: It depends on where you plan to
Many eyes widened and jaws dropped
donate your body. Medical schools want
when I said this did not include the costs
intact bodies for students to dissect. You
for a cemetery plot, opening and closing
can still donate your corneas and have your of the grave, monument or marker costs,
body accepted for anatomical study.
flowers or an obituary. They were amazed
Some national body donation services
to hear the full costs can run $10,000 or
such as MedCure, Science Care and the
more and that these costs have increased
Life Legacy Foundation may accept a
by 28 percent over the past 10 years.
body that has had organs removed. You
I also sketched out the differences
need to do your research before you make
between preneed funeral insurance
a commitment.
and final expense insurance. You can

ICCFA Magazine

read about the pros and cons of both
in this article at my website: http://

By phone

Probably the most popular question that
comes by phone is, “Where can I get the
cheapest cremation in the area?” I give
callers information on three local low-cost
providers and encourage them to do their
The prevalence of this question tells me
the issue of cost continues to be a prime
concern for funeral consumers, whether
preneed or at-need. It also shows that
many people are looking to experts who
are not funeral directors for information
about funerals—a disturbing reflection on
the industry.
I’d love to see more funeral homes
opening their facilities for tours as we
did with French Funerals & Cremations.
People have questions they want answered.
The public needs to see funeral directors
in their place of business during an event
other than a funeral.
By the way, you can see a video of that
funeral home tour on YouTube: https://
As a death educator, I’ve accurately
and honestly answered most questions the
public has sent my way. However, that
one caller’s wacky question about Mom’s
suspicious death and suspected cremation
cover-up stumped the Doyenne of Death.
What would you have told her?

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page 63

by Daniel M. Isard, MSFS


ICCFA Magazine
author spotlight
➤Isard is president of

Cemeteries, even those that benefit from combination
ownership, face more challenges than ever these days.
Starting in this issue, Dan Isard and his team will be providing
cemeterians with options, advice and answers in this column.

The Foresight Companies,
LLC, a Phoenix-based
business and management consulting firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions, valuations, accounting, financing and customer surveys.

➤He is the author of several books, and

the host of “The Dan Isard Show.”

More from this author
➤Educational information, including

copies of this article, can be found at

➤You can follow Isard on Twitter at
@f4sight and “like” his page on Facebook.

Cemetery Impossible

Does this cemetery need more developed
property, or a better preneed sales program?


e are creating a column for
cemeterians that shines a
spotlight on a problem and
then outlines a corresponding answer or
solution. It will be similar to the businessfixing television shows where restaurants,
hotels or bars undergo reconstruction or
implement new business practices in order
to become more profitable.
This column is written by the staff of
The Foresight Companies. If you have a
question you want to be featured in this
column, please send it to danisard@
Dan or a member of his staff will
call you to get more information and a
recommendation will be provided via this
column, helping not only you but also
others who are facing similar challenges.
Let’s get started with our first fix.

The mission

I have a 40-acre cemetery and about
30 acres are not yet developed. The 10
developed acres are about 25 percent sold.
Almost 85 percent of the sales are interred.
My funeral home does about 100 cases
a year and 30 percent of those cases are
How much more inventory should I
develop and when?

Background of organization

The one-location, privately-owned
cemetery has been owned and managed by
a funeral home owner for the past 30 years.
Though the funeral home and cemetery
have common ownership, they are located
two miles apart.
The town where they are located has
a population of about 15,000. There is
one other cemetery owned by the city and

ICCFA Magazine

in the surrounding county are two small
church-owned cemeteries.

CI solution

Over the course of 30 years you have had
almost 10,000 graves to sell and you sold
about 2,500. That is about 80 graves a
year, and is nearly even with your annual
number of at-need funeral services.
Do you see what’s happening here? In
reality you do not have a cemetery, you
have an extension service to your funeral
home. That is not necessarily bad, but
your cemetery is not being operated in a
productive way.
The answer to your question addresses
both your funeral home and your cemetery.
You need to increase sales in advance
of need. At the current rate of sales, you
probably have about 7,500 interment rights
remaining for sale.
At your historical sales rate of about 80
a year, that is almost a 90-year inventory.
So, the answer to your first question of how
much more inventory you need to develop
is “none!” There is no need to develop any
of the remaining acreage at this point.
To increase preneed sales, you need to
implement a proactive preneed program
at your funeral home and cross-train with
cemetery sales. Have your salespeople
look at existing funeral home preneed
arrangements and make note of any that do
not designate a place of interment. Contact
those people and talk to them about your
cemetery now.
Conversely, anytime there is a cemetery
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But if we get people to prefund
and commit to traditional
burial today, the odds are high
that those consumers will
not change their minds, even
though many of their friends
will convert to cremation.

sale, you can make a funeral arrangement
as well. Even if the funeral arrangement
isn’t funded immediately, having a plan
in place still gets people thinking they are
committed to your funeral home.
The situation you are describing is one
of the most common situations we see.
You’re in a small town. Everyone knows
everyone’s business. The lines of market
share are well demarcated, with the two
funeral homes and the cemeteries probably
having similar non-transferring markets.
One of the great advantages to owning a
combination funeral and cemetery property
is the financial strength of one impacts
the other. We do not see fighting between
organizations for the vault and memorial
marker sales. This allows the owner to
generate more profit.
I would encourage you to concentrate
on advance selling because of the market’s
increasing shift from traditional burial to
cremation. If your market resembles the
average market in the United States today,
with 40 percent cremation cases and 60
percent traditional burial, remember that is
going to be changing in the future.
But if we get people to prefund and
commit to traditional burial today, the odds
are high that those consumers will not
change their minds, even though many of
their friends will convert to cremation.
Studies indicate that 58 percent of all
U.S. consumers indicate a preference for
cremation. So work to lock in a higher
traditional burial number today.
If you can increase sales from 80 to
about 120 a year, you will have achieved a
50 percent increase in sales. You still won’t
need to develop more property for a long
time, so you will find revenue increasing
dramatically with little additional cost.
You probably have thought of your
cemetery as benefitting from the goodwill
generated by your funeral home, but by
increasing preneed sales your cemetery
will actually be a marketing lead generator
for the funeral home.
Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

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January 2016


page 66

by Shun Newbern, MS, CFSP

Being aware that our social and cultural backgrounds affect
our views is the first step to improving our interactions with others.

Becoming aware of differences
so we can work to bridge them


oday, critical thinking is needed in
the workplace more than ever before.
Teams and individuals can learn how
to think more effectively and consequently
get better results.
Of course, changes or improvements in
the way teams think do not happen overnight.
For such a transformation to occur in a
funeral home, crematory or cemetery, a team
must learn to think together; this requires
good listening skills.
Through a coherent review of various
cultures, I have identified several positions or
opinions. One of those positions is the way
society imagines that race is not a factor in
decision-making in social groups.
The fact is, we are separated by cultures,
ideologies and individual distinctions. As
a case in point, let’s reflect on something
we see in urban America. You will not find
Latino gang members and African-American
gang members coming together as one social
group; it simply does not happen.
However, we are seeing more interracial
churches around the country, based on and
dedicated to the belief that we are all one big
family unified by God.
And in many parts of the country, the
staffs of mortuaries and cemeteries are

diverse, weaving unique, colorful ethnic
We are innately sociocentric as well as
egocentric. We fall under the sway of domi­
na­ting social groups. We find ourselves in
conflict with members of groups whose ex_
periences and attitudes differ from our own.
Do we allow this to affect how we view
some of the families we serve? How we view
some of our colleagues or employees?
If your ideology is totally different from
that of a family you have been called on to
serve, are you truly providing them with the
best service you possibly can, or are you
falling short due your differences, perhaps
due to a desire to limit your interaction with
In February 2009, we all witnessed
a speech by then newly appointed U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder. In the opening
of his speech, he stated that we are a nation
of cowards because we do not socialize with
other races during our time away from work,
evenings and weekends.
Some found his delivery to be pompous,
arrogant or offensive, but his message should
have raised our consciousness of these divi­
sions and how they affect our society.
We all have to consciously work on
ICCFA Magazine
author spotlight
➤Newbern is owner of

Metropolitan Mortuary,
Jurupa Valley, California.

➤He has more than 21 years of funeral
service experience. He was the quality
control supervising embalmer for Rose
Hills Mortuary, Whittier, California, where
he worked for 10 years, and worked for
nine years at Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary, Inglewood, California.
➤He received his degree in mortuary
science from San Francisco College of
Mortuary Science.
➤He is an expert witness, speaker and
consultant on funeral service isues.

developing the ability to think beyond the
social groups we belong to, to understand
other people better. We must work to be
confident that when we are using critical
thinking in making decisions that we
are considering the cultural and social
differences of our staff and team members,
as well as of the families we serve.

1/3 H

Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

January 2016


by ICCFA Magazine columnist
Todd W. Van Beck, CFuE
ICCFA Magazine
author spotlight
➤Van Beck is one of the

most sought-after speakers
and educators in funeral

➤He is the director of continuing educa-

tion for John A. Gupton College, Nashville,

➤Van Beck is dean of ICCFA University’s
College of Funeral Home Management
and received the ICCFA Educational
Foundation’s first ever Lasting Impact
Award in 2014.


“Like” Todd Van Beck
on Facebook today!

More from this author
Van Beck
will present
“Dueling Funerals,” about
the funerals
of Abraham
Lincoln and
Davis, at the
ICCFA 2016
Convention & Expo, April 13-16, in New
Orleans, Louisiana. See page 102.

➤Van Beck’s new
book is “Reverence
for the Dead: The
Unavoidable Link.”
(See page 77 for
more information.)
The book addresses
in detail the ethical
standards of caring
for the dead and the
ethical consequences
of not doing so. It can be ordered at
➤ICCFA University 2016

will be held July 22-27
at the Fogelman Conference Center, University of
Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee. Van Beck
is a dean and professor. Curricula and
registration information will be available in
the spring at


ICCFA Magazine


As funeral and cemetery professionals, we need
to establish trust and respect between ourselves and our client
families. Merely saying “you can trust me” isn’t the way to do it.

The keys to service: Trust


he funeral experience can easily
be viewed as sacred, and because
it possesses sacred overtones,
the quality and character of the funeral
professional is of profound importance.
Because of this unique situation, a pressing
question is what do we bring with us as
funeral professionals, inside of us, about us,
that may help or hinder (or even not affect)
bereaved clients? This is indeed a tough
question to tackle.
The funeral professional ought to bring
to the funeral arrangement and funeral
experience as much of ourselves as we
possibly can, stopping, of course, short
of the point at which this may negatively
affect the client family or deny them the
help they need.
Feeling within ourselves that we
genuinely wish to help a bereaved person
as much as possible and that there is
nothing at the moment more important to
us—this, I believe, is a priceless ideal for
all funeral professionals to embrace.
This ability to feel within ourselves
is a critical asset for every funeral
interviewer to possess, particularly in
such complicated times when people’s
abilities and skills to connect with each
other are eroded by cynicism, faceless
communication and suspicions of others
which seem to increase every day.
As the great thinker Alvin Toffler once
said, “As technological skills go up, people
skills go down.” Interesting thought for the
year 2016.
What we are exploring here is what
could easily be called the high substantive
funeral service ideals. Most of us
(myself included) simply cannot realize
immediately what this encompasses, but
this is never a good reason not to try to
delve into what makes a great funeral
director versus what makes a run-of-themill director.
When the customer/family perceives
that we are doing our level best (this is
the invisible and silent key), it means

something to them, and proves helpful. If
nothing else, they will probably take away
from the funeral interview and experience
the feeling that we as funeral professionals
may be trusted and the conviction that we
respect them.
This is important. Without this
feeling, the standard, old-style “funeral
arrangement” procedure probably will
get finished, but little that is really
positive or of a lasting impression will be
Merely saying the words, “I can be
trusted” and/or “I fully respect you” will
not help if the bereaved client does not
sense it to be true. I think this establishing
of trust and respect is what those who
teach and write in the field of personal
relations are most often referring to when
they speak of “contact,” “good rapport,”
“good relationship” and “connecting.”
Because of its critical importance in this
“connecting” process, trust is something
we must work relentlessly to gain—and to
The real good news is that funeral
professionals have ample statistical
evidence to back up the premise that in
general, funeral people do connect with
people in a trusting and respectful manner.
For years, the Gallup Poll has asked the
American public to rank the top 10 most
ethical and honest professionals in their
communities, and funeral directors have
always been included in the top 10. I find it
interesting that the people I’ve run across
who are most skeptical about this statistic
are funeral professionals themselves!
The experience of trust has a powerful
and ever-present, intangible aspect to
it, determined most by the simple, oldfashioned human interest you and I take in
what the client family is saying and by the
understanding we show them about their
feelings and attitudes.
We communicate this—or the lack
thereof—constantly, by diverse and
frequently subtle nonverbal cues that the
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As the great thinker Alvin Toffler once said, “As technological skills go up,
people skills go down.” Interesting thought for the year 2016.
client family may be more aware of than
we ourselves are.
Of course, our facial expressions
reveal a great deal—we all know that.
Our gestures contribute to the picture,
supporting, denying, confirming, rejecting
or confusing. Families hear the tone
of our voice, and they decide whether
it matches our words or whether they
whisper, “Sham, phony—beware!” Nearly
everything we do or leave undone is noted
and weighed.
And so we come back to this: What
of ourselves do we bring to the funeral
interview and experience? Oddly, we
are the only known in the entire funeral
equation. We cannot do anything about our
bereaved client families; they are who they
But we can always do something about
ourselves. We can always be aware and
sensitive to continually improving by
expanding our creative horizons, but also
by being lifelong students of our beloved
profession, digesting and embracing
absolutely everything and anything that
has something to do with funeral service.
Here then are some common-sense
suggestions, or guidelines if you will,
which will help you connect with families
in trust and respect, in and out of the
arrangement conference:
• First, funeral professionals are people
who are easy to talk to.
• Second, funeral professionals offer
people something to do.
• Third, funeral professionals give
people ways to express feelings.
• Fourth, funeral professionals give
people something to hold on to.
• Fifth, funeral professionals give
people something to believe in.
• Communicate; never cross-examine.
• Maintain a genuinely friendly and
interested attitude. This takes work.
• Abstain from revealing your own
• Keep your personal problems out of
the funeral interview.
• Avoid a patronizing or scientifically
detached attitude.
• Avoid gossiping or revealing
Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

• Avoid getting rushed or giving the
impression that you are pressed for time.
• Attend exclusively to the client by
blocking out all outside interferences.
• Be alert to detect what the client is
expressing and feeling.

This list is not complete, but as with
all life-skill improvements, it provides a
beginning. Look it over; memorize it. See
if your connection with bereaved families
in terms of trust and respect becomes
deeper. It’s worth the time and effort. r

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January 2016


Supply Line
n FuneralTech, Kingston, Ontario,
has launched Eturnal Memorials, which
creates one-of-a-kind personalized 3D
printed urns and keepsakes. Clients and
families work directly with an artist to create
a unique sculpture that reflects their loved
one’s personality. The urns are not being sold
directly to consumers; sales must go through
authorized resellers.

and right,
urns by

The “pink
tribute orb
from Memory Glass
efforts to
fight breast


READERS: To find the products and services you need online, go to
and select “directory” to find:
Supply Link Search
Engine, the fastest way
to find the products and
services you need at your
funeral home, cemetery or
SUPPLIERS: Send your press releases
about your new products and services,
and about awards, personnel changes and
other news to
for inclusion in Supply Line. Large files that
will not go through the ICCFA server can be
sent to


ICCFA Magazine

n memory glass, Santa Barbara, California, has released a “pink ribbon” tribute
orb honoring efforts to fight breast cancer.
The company will donate 10 percent of all
proceeds from this product to theAmerican
Cancer Society. The goal in developing this
tribute orb was to create a memorialization
piece to honor the fighting spirit of loved ones
who have battled this devastating disease.
Similar in size and basic shape as a large
Memory Glass orb, the tribute orb is a solid,
clear crystal glass memorial containing a
ribbon-shaped pink glass design. A small
amount of cremated remains is fused within
the glass, floating above the ribbon. The tribute orb can honor those lost to other cancers
simply by changing the ribbon’s color to any
one of Memory Glass’ 16 available colors.
n Howard miller Co., Zeeland,
Michigan, has introduced the Bombay chest
urn. The elegant, fully-lined urn is key
locked. It accommodates a temporary container or the bronze insert. The finish is high
gloss. It is available from Cressy Memorial.
n Legacy.COM, Evanston, Illinois,
doubled donations given during December
at up to $50,000.
Families that visit, which provides obituaries and related services, often
choose to support a meaningful charity or
cause as a way of doing good in memory of
loved ones.
n vandor Corp., Richmond, Indiana,
and C.J. Boots, Anderson, Indiana, have
merged. Chris Boots will remain president of
C.J. Boots as well as become a Vandor shareholder, said Vandor President Gerald Davis.
Vandor’s funeral products division manufactures cloth-covered and wood-veneer burial
and cremation products marketed under the
Starmark cremation products and Vision Casket brands, as well as casket interior compo-

nents for other companies. A core line of C.J.
Boots-branded hardwood and craft caskets
are now available, as well.
n Johnson consulting, Scottsdale, Arizona,
has hired Erin Whitaker as
senior director, operations
integration. She will use her
skills and experience in the areas of operations and process
improvement at each of the
FPG funeral home and cemetery locations. A third-generation funeral
director, Whitaker joined Eastman Kodak
as a chemical engineer and project manager
after college.After six years, she went back to
school and obtained her MBA degree. While
completing her degree, she began working part-time at the family’s funeral home,
Whitaker Funeral Home, Newberry, South
Carolina. She then became a licensed funeral
director and embalmer, joining Whitaker on
a permanent basis as both a funeral director
and business manager.
Whitaker then worked as a financial and
business management consultant at The
Foresight Companies, Phoenix, Arizona. She
is a Cremation Association of North America
board member. 1.888.250.7747;
n passare, San Francisco,
California, has added Julie
Hofmann and Matt Dugas
as account executives. Before
joining Passare, Hofmann
worked as a regional sales
manager for AT&T Business Solutions. She also has
several years of experience in
account sales and management training. Dugas has
several years of experience as
an account executive, offering
case management solutions
for funeral home clients. He
has worked with hundreds
of funeral homes across the
U.S. to improve the efficiency
of their business and has spoken at various
funeral conferences.
n Sprung Memorial, Lindenhurst,
New York, has acquired Master Memorials.
John Lange, vice president of Sprung Memo“Like” the ICCFA on Facebook & friend “ICCFA Staff ”

rial Group’s New Jersey operation will oversee
Master Memorials to ensure the transition is
seamless and efficient for both parties in the
present and future.
In addition, Sprung Memorial Group has
hired Vicki Jurkiewicz as the manager of the
Westfield location. Jurkiewicz has amassed
knowledge of the monument and funeral
business based on her time at Bernheim Apter
Kreitzman Funeral Home. Marian Muoio,
who has been with Master Memorials for
more than 35 years will continue to lend her
experience and expertise to the families of
Toms River.
n UPD Urns, Three Rivers,
California, has launched a
new cremation jewelry subscription service for funeral
homes called Pendant Box.
With Pendant Box, funeral
homes can choose to subscribe
to four, eight or 12 units of
jewelry to be sent to them
every 60 days. Custom quantities and delivery
frequency is available and funeral homes
can save up to 40 percent on their jewelry
when they subscribe. UPD Urns has recently
designed more than 25 new pieces of cremation jewelry and has focused on this category
for the past 18 months, said UPD CEO Tyler
Fraser. 1.800.590.4133;;
n Kubota, Torrance, California, has
introduced the all-new ZD series zero-turn
mower line-up, and three new commercial
walk-behind, gas-powered mowers, the
WG14-36, WH15-48 and the WHF19-52.
Kubota introduces the all-new ZD Series
zero-turn mower lineup: the ZD1000 and
ZD1200. The new ZD series features Kubota’s
aerodynamic cutting system, which provides
for more efficient use of power.
All models are driven by powerful
Kubota diesel engines with hydrostatic
transmissions and pivoting front axles.
Available deck widths are 48, 54, 60 and 72
inches. The ZD series’ premium suspension seats improve rider comfort, and
LCD display panel on the ZD1200 allows
easy monitoring of vehicle functions. The
walk-behind mowers are available in three
deck widths and each model is powered by
a reliable Kawasaki V-twin gasoline engine
with outputs ranging from 14 to 19 horsepower. The WG14-36 features a five-speed
gear-drive transmission with reverse assist,
Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

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January 2016


and the WH15-48 and WHF19-52 use
Hydro-Gear variable displacement pumps
with Parker wheel motors.
1.888.458.2682, ext. 900;

Kubota’s ZD series zero-turn mower.

Passages’ new
fabric shroud
inside a willow carrier.

Three of the cremation jewelry pieces
available from Bailey & Bailey, formerly
New Memorials Direct.
The bronze
interior color
finish option
for niches by
By Design.

Hekman’s new copper-topped Demilune console table.


ICCFA Magazine

n passages international, Albuquerque, New Mexico, has introduced a new
fabric shroud. These industry-first woven
bamboo fabric shrouds have jute carrying
handles and are suitable for cremation or
burial. Each shroud includes simple-to-follow
instructions on shrouding a body, which can
also be found on the company’s website. The
shrouds can be used in three ways: on a Passages’ willow carrier, inside a Passages
eco-friendly casket or on its own,
using a locally-sourced rigid
board for support. Produced
from sustainable, biodegradable
willow, the carrier is designed for
dignified viewing of a dressed or
shrouded body. It features a rigid base
with flax rope and seagrass handles. The carrier contains no metal or plastic components
and features a fitted, water-resistant natural
cotton interior lining, making it suitable for
burial, cremation or re-use. 1.888.480.6400;
n new Memorials Direct, Gig
Harbor, Washington has changed its name
to Bailey & Bailey. They are still offering the
same line of cremation jewelry, including
fingerprint, cremation and photo pieces.
n Columbarium by design, El Paso,
Texas, is introducing its state-of-the-art
niche system to the American and Canadian markets. These niches are weather
resistant and made of unbreakable highdensity polypropylene that can be customized
to any specific measure with a capacity of
one to eight uns. The niches are created and
manufactured in Querétaro, Mexico, and offer unique design capabilities for architects of
columbariums, as well as significant cost and
maintenance savings over concrete niches.
These high-quality niches can be used
indoor/outdoor and can withstand the most
adverse climate and weather conditions,
including earthquakes and flooding. Clients
of the company can also use the firm’s architectural and design center in Querétaro to
direct an existing structure from concept to a
one-of-a-kind columbarium. 915.504.5458;

n Hekman, Zeeland, Michigan, has introduced the new copper-topped Demilune
console table. The table is softly distressed,
with a rounded edge. It is 32 inches high and
can be used as a stand-alone table or as part
of a wall setting. It is available through Cressy
n Federated Funeral directors
of america, Springfield, Illinois, has released an updated portal dedicated to Federated members. This portal offers increased
accessibility in real time to a business’ key
financial information in a snapshot summarizing key performance data and using graphs
and charts. Information is displayed visually
to simplify the data and offers comparisons
with past business performance as well as
Federated averages. Federated’s new member
portal is accessible from any device, including
a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Federated also celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2015. Federated was founded in
1925 by J.C. Rodenburg and C.E. Hahn. The
company emerged from the pair’s previous
business enterprise, the Hahn-Rodenburg
Advertising Agency. A large portion of their
clients were funeral homes, and the entrepreneurs noted that many of these customers
experienced high accounts receivables.They
questioned if something might be done to
help funeral directors handle their business
affairs more efficiently.
Federated has grown and changed during
the course of its 90 years in business. Today,
Federated employs approximately 180 people,
including a team of field consultants located
throughout the U.S. The company continues
to operate its main office from Springfield,
Illinois, as well as an office in Jacksonville,
Florida. In 2011, Federated was bought by
Fiducial, a privately owned international business known as the number one accounting
firm in France with a focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Federated also recently hosted a regional
meeting at Worsham College of Mortuary
Science in Wheeling, Illinois. The meeting,
which offered eight hours of continuing education, was attended by funeral professionals
from eight states.
n Funeral Directors Life INsurance Co., Abilene, Texas, was recognized
with the Innovation Trailblazer award
in honor of its extensions to the Genelco
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January 2016


Insurance Administration Solution product
in 2015. The award was presented by Concentrix Insurance Solutions. Genelco Software
Solutions is a business unit within Concentrix Corp., which was acquired from IBM
in February 2014. GIAS is a new-generation
insurance administration system developed to
modernize, consolidate, and transform insurance operations.

Mike Rowe of CNN’s “Somebody’s
Gotta Do it” visits Mortuary Lift Co.

The fall class from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science visits Astral

Frontrunner makes a donation to the University Hospital Kingston Foundation.


ICCFA Magazine

n mortuary lift co., Cedar Rapids,
Iowa, was recently featured on Mike Rowe’s
“Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” on CNN. Rowe
was intrigued when he learned about Katie
Hill and the company she owns and operates,
particularly its flagship product, The Ultimate
1000 Lift. As a result of that visit, Mortuary
Lift, Hill and The Ultimate 1000 Lift were
featured in a segment on the Wednesday, October 28 show. Like most people, Rowe hadn’t
considered the need for a device that assists
funeral professionals by lifting the bodies they
are preparing, creating a safe work environment and allowing one person
to do the job. He
and Hill bantered
a bit before Hill
strapped him in
the Ultimate 1000
and moved him
easily around
the preparation
room. “Mike
came away with
a better understanding of
the challenges
faced by funeral
every day,” said Hill. The segment can be seen
Lynn, Indiana, recently
hosted the fall class from
Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science at the company’s
home office. The students
were taken on a plant tour,
attended a seminar and were
given the chance to ask questions. 1.800.278.7252; sales@

n Frontrunner, Kingston, Ontario,
has announced a gift of $50,000 to the
University Hospital Kingston Foundation.
The gift, in support of the Extraordinary
People-Innovation Health Care Program,
was made on behalf of the Montroy family
and the FrontRunner staff, said Kevin Montroy, company founder and CEO.
“As a proud grandfather of my amazing twin granddaughters, my family and I
witnessed first-hand the level of care and
commitment shown to them, and us, over
their four-months’ stay at NICU,” Montroy
said. “It was this appreciation and gratitude
that inspired us to want to do more.”
n, Chicago, Illinois,
has launched online acces to its obituary
volume and market share tracking service.
Using the new online service, subscribers are
able to set up password protected accounts
and select funeral homes to be tracked.
Subscription packages are based on the radius
around the funeral home selected for tracking. Prior to creating an account, subscribers
can view the funeral homes included in each
package to ensure they are getting access
to the competitive data they need. Features
of the online system include customized
reports with different competitive sets, single
or trended time period selections. Report
selections can be saved so generating future
reports takes minimal time and effort, data is
sortable on multiple fields and data is exportable.
n Wilbert Funeral Services,
Broadview, Illinois, recently honored 55
licensees as Ultimate Service Providers
for 2015. Those so honored are: Gulf Coast
Wilbert Inc., Crestview, Florida; Wilbert
Funeral Services, Fort Myers, Florida; Wilbert
Funeral Services, Jacksonville, Florida; Master
Grave Service Inc., Bogart, Georgia; Northern
Illinois Vault Co. Inc., Belvidere, Illinois; Kelley Vault Co. Inc., Danville, Illinois; Decatur
Wilbert Burial Vault Co., Decatur, Illinois;
Knauer Industries LLC, Joliet, Illinois; Peoria
Wilbert Vault Co. Inc., Metamora, Illinois;
Quincy Wilbert Vault Co., Quincy, Illinois;
Sterling Vault Co., Sterling, Illinois; Schultz
Wilbert Vault Co., Streator, Illinois
Also, Akron Concrete Products Inc.,
Akron, Indiana; Indianapolis Wilbert Vault
Co. Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana; Burlington
Wilbert Vault Works Inc., Burlington, Iowa;
Clinton Wilbert Vaults, Inc., Clinton, Iowa;
Wilbert Burial Vault Co., Fort Dodge, Iowa;
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Roland-Wilbert Vault Co. Inc., Marion, Iowa;
Mason City Wilbert Vault Co., Mason City,
Iowa; Waterloo Wilbert Vault Co., Waterloo,
Iowa; Wilbert Funeral Services, Parsons,
Kansas; Wilbert Funeral Services, Wamego,
Kansas; Wilbert Funeral Services, Wichita,
Also, Baton Rouge Wilbert Burial Vault
Co., Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Richards-Wilbert Inc., Hagerstown, Maryland; BrownWilbert Inc., St. Cloud, Minnesota; Wilbert
Funeral Services, Grandview, Missouri;
Wilbert Funeral Services, Moberly, Missouri;
Wilbert Funeral Services, Mountain Grove,
Missouri; St. Louis Wilbert Vault Co., St.
Louis, Missouri; Wilbert Funeral Services, St.
Joseph, Missouri; Wilbert Funeral Services,
Springfield, Missouri; Wilbert Funeral Services, Versailles, Missouri;
Also, Yates Wilbert Vault Co. Inc., Charlotte, North Carolina; Arnold Wilbert Corp.,
Goldsboro, North Carolina; Wilbert Burial
Vault Co., Lumberton, North Carolina; Baxter
Burial Vault Service, Cincinnati, Ohio; Bell
Vault & Monument Co., Miamisburg, Ohio;
Turner Vault Co., Northwood, Ohio; Ohio
Vault Works Inc., Valley View, Ohio; Wilbert
Funeral Services, Lawton, Oklahoma; Wilbert
Funeral Services, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;
Wilbert Funeral Services, Tulsa, Oklahoma;
Columbia Wilbert Vault Co., Cayce, South
Carolina; Wilbert Burial Vault Co. Inc.,
Greenville, South Carolina; Charleston Wilbert Vault Co., Summerville, South Carolina.
Also, Lawrenceburg Burial Vault Co.,
Lawrenceburg, Tennessee; Memphis Burial
Vault Co., Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville
Wilbert Burial Vault Co., Nashville, Tennessee; Wilbert Vaults of Houston LLP, Houston,
Texas; Wilbert Funeral Services, Cedar Hill,
Texas; Wilbert Funeral Services, San Antonio,
Texas; Richards-Wilbert Inc./Roanoke Valley,
Salem, Virginia; Brown-Wilbert Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Brown-Wilbert Inc., Sun
Prairie, Wisconsin.
n Unity Funding Co., Cincinnati,
Ohio, has launched a new webiste. The site
contains all the forms necessary to partner
with UFC and all forms necessary to complete the funding process. All forms on the
new site can be filled out online. The userfriendly website also contains recent news
items to help clients get to know more about
UFC. The site includes all of the relevant
contact information and a brief history
about the company.
855.414.8814; r
Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

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January 2016



Mary LaCoste
with one of
tombs for
which New
cemeteries are
famous. In her
book, LaCoste
examines and
either explains
or debunks the
many stories
about the
city’s funeral
and burial

LaCoste wrote the book on death & burial in New Orleans


s it true that “natural
cremation” takes place
inside the above-ground
tombs in New Orleans?
How do those tombs, many
designed to hold two caskets,
manage to contain the
remains of dozens of family
members? Why do the city’s
famous jazz funerals end
with joyous music? Where
is the Katrina Memorial,
built with the participation of many funeral
professionals, and why is it practically
These questions, and many more, are
answered in Mary LaCoste’s book, “Death
Embraced: New Orleans Tombs and Burial
Customs—Behind the Scenes Accounts of
Decay, Love and Tradition,” a collection of
stories about the city’s cemeteries and its
funeral rituals.
As she notes in the preface, the chapters
stand alone and can be read in any order. So,
if you’re tempted to read the last one, “Jazz
Funerals—A Joyous Tradition,” first, go right
ahead. But if you start at the beginning— “A
‘Typical’ Tour of the Oldest Cemetery”—and
read straight through to the end, you’ll find
you can read all 16 stories in one sitting.
The paperback version (it’s also available
as an e-book) is 126 pages, and that includes
an appendix listing all cemeteries inside the
city’s borders with information about how to
get there and what to look for when you do.
If you’re attending the ICCFA Convention

ICCFA Magazine

in New Orleans (April 13-16), this
is the perfect book to take with you.
You can read it on the plane and then
use it as a reference guide for ceme­
tery visits. Whether you go on the
ICCFA’s tour during the convention
or strike off on your own, LaCoste’s
descriptions and stories will help
you get the most from your visit.
LaCoste’s stories, written
for the general public, treat the
cemetery and funeral profes­sion
with respect and appreciation. For exam­
ple, in the chapter “Race and the Funeral
Business,” she says: “Funeral directors and
cemetery administrators are sensitive to the
religious and cultural customs of the families
who use them and are known for providing
counseling, guidance and sympathy.”
LaCoste says her husband’s family
tomb sparked her interest in the city’s burial
customs. After retiring from a teaching career,
she became a journalist and tour guide. She
wanted to make sure she was giving correct
information on her tours, and also wanted to
be able to answer questions her grandchildren
might have about the family’s tomb—one of
those small buildings that somehow manages
to contain the remains of dozens of people.
Her research convinced her that many
of the stories tour guides use are based
on hearsay that has never been checked.
What’s more surprising, LaCoste discovered
there was plenty of information that can be
authenticated that was not being dissemi­na­
ted, at least not until her book was published.

More from this author

LaCoste will speak at the ICCFA
2016 Convention & Expo,
April 13-16, in New Orleans. Page 94.

More about this subject

The ICCFA is offering an optional tour
of Lakelawn Metairie Cemetery and St.
Louis Cemetery No. 1. Page 94.

In other words, this is a subject where no
exaggeration or hearsay is necessary to tell
an interesting story. It would be difficult to be
boring when talking about a city where any
discussion of cemetery tours must mention
voodoo, the vampire stories of New Orleans
resident Anne Rice, the “Superdome curse”
and the Tomb of the Unknown Slave. The
fact that she strives for accuracy and debunks
some of that handed-down hearsay does not
make LaCoste’s stories any less interesting.
The appendices include maps with the
location of cemeteries indicated, and list
every cemetery within city limits. She gives
a brief history of each cemetery, lists famous
burials and features, notes if they are open to
the public (some are open only to tours, not
to individuals walking in) and even makes
observations about the neighborhoods.
Readers may be surprised at just how
many cemeteries there are, and at the variety.
Despite the “too-high water table” stories,
there are plenty of in-ground burials in New
Orleans, and not only Roman Catholic but
also Protestant, Jewish and non-sectarian

—ICCFA Magazine editor Susan Loving
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Van Beck’s new book addresses reverence for the dead


fter four decades
of study and
writing, Todd W. Van
Beck has published his
new book, “Reverence
for the Dead: The
Unavoidable Link.”
Van Beck has
traveled the globe in
the pursuit of helping
those who deal with
the reality of death, including clergy, hospice,
funeral professionals and bereaved families.
This book addresses in detail the ethical
standards of caring for the dead and the
ethical consequences of not doing so.

More from this author
➤Van Beck will speak at the

ICCFA 2016 Convention & Expo,
April 13-16, in New Orleans. Page 102.

➤His article, “The keys to service:
Trust,” is on page 68.

Primary to this work is the development
and articulation of a new ethical idea called
the ethic of reverence for the dead. The text
walks the reader through important subjects
such as defining morality and reverence.
In a step-by-step format, the author
builds the ethic of reverence for the dead
by taking what he calls the ethical journey.

An assessment of the current state of the
ethic is discussed, and the ethic is held up to
stringent ethical criterion, including human
nature, consequences of the act, universal
convictions and moral feelings and religious
heritage as ethical/moral guides.
This book presents a multidisciplinary
approach to a careful analysis of the ethic of
reverence for the dead and what the presence
or absence of this ethic means to life.
Chapters include, “Living the Ethic of Rever­
ence for the Dead,” “The Psychology of the
Ethic of Reverence for the Dead,” “Explor­
ation of the Numinous,” “The Practical
Model of the Ethic” and “Ethical Inventory of
the Meaning of Reverence for the Dead.” r

‘Hail and Farewell’ gives guidance to cremation families


hen someone says, “Just cremate me
after I’m dead,” the family often has
no clue what to do for a memorial service
or final disposition of the remains. The
new book, “Hail and Farewell: Cremation
Ceremonies, Templates and Tips,” will help
families with memorial service guidance and
creative ideas.
The book by Gail Rubin, The Doyenne
of Death, and Susan Fraser, the founder and
CEO of In The Light Urns, covers everything
related to creating a meaningful memorial
service with cremated remains:
• Why it’s important to hold some sort of
goodbye ceremony.
• A description of the cremation process,
so families know what to expect.
• Examples of different ways to scatter
ashes – more than you’d think.

More from this author
➤Rubin’s article, “Questions people

ask about death—and death care” is on
page 58.

• Stories of creative memorial services in
different settings to spark ideas.
• Templates to easily create meaningful
memorial services.
• Sample scripts from actual memorial
services to provide inspiration.
• Suggested readings, music and online
resources for a wealth of meaningful
materials to weave into a service.
The book’s title refers to the last line of an
ancient elegiac poem written by the Roman
poet Gaius Valerius Catullus approximately
2,000 years ago. He sadly addresses his

brother’s cremated
remains, “… with
brotherly weeping.
And forever, brother,
hail and farewell.”
“The only
difference between a
memorial service and a
funeral is the presence
of a body,” said Rubin.
“Cremation offers
increased flexibility and a range of creative
options for a memorable send-off. The best
time to learn about funeral planning issues is
now, before there’s a death.”
“Hail and Farewell encourages people
to take the time to consider how they could
memorialize their own lives, and to form a
plan now,” said Fraser.

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January 2016



Send in news about your cemetery, funeral home, crematory or association to If you publish a newsletter,
please email a copy to or mail to: Susan Loving, ICCFA, 107 Carpenter Drive, Suite 100, Sterling, VA 20164.

Thirteen past presidents of the Casket & Funeral Supply Association of America, spanning 25 years, gather for a photo during the
association’s fall conference and trade show, during which the association celebrated its 102nd anniversary.

n The Casket & Funeral Supply Association of America,
Lake Bluff, Illinois, recently announced
its 2015-16 Board of Directors and officers. President is Peter Galletly, executive
vice president, secretary and treasurer of
Tiedemann-Bevs Industries, Richmond,
Indiana. Other officers are Vice President
Gerald “Jerry” Burchett, PPG
Industries, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Treasurer Rodney
Robinson, Southern Craft
Manufacturing, Loretto,
Tennessee; and Immediate
Past President Tina Houck,
Schuylkill Haven Casket Co.,
Schuylkill Haven, PennsylGalletly
Newly-elected directors serving threeyear terms are: Pat Duckers, Artco Casket
Co., Lenexa, Kansas; Justin Thacker, Thacker
Casket Manufacturing, Clinton, Maryland;

and Dan Sauder, Sauder Funeral Products,
Archbold, Ohio. Scott Jones Jr., Service
Casket Co., Columbus, Georgia, was elected
to fill an unexpired one-year term as a director. They join returning directors Steven
Gadaleta, NorthStar Industries, Batesville,
Indiana; Terrill Vieth, Geneva Manufacturing Corp., Geneva, Indiana; Jeanette Hiemstra, Keith M. Merrick Co., Sibley, Iowa; Bill
Jones, Aurora Casket Co., Aurora, Indiana;
and Jason Mims, Cherokee Casket Co., Griffin, Georgia.
n schoedinger funeral and
cremation serivce, Columbus, Ohio,
recently was honored in the Conway Center for Family Business 17th Annual Family Business Awards program. Schoedinger
was recognized as Columbus’ oldest family
business, celebrating its 160th year. Founded
in 1855 by Philip Schoedinger, a German
cabinetmaker, today sixth-generation family
members Michael, Randy and Kevin run the

From left, CEO Randy Schoedinger; President Michael Schoedinger, CFuE, CCrE;
Chairman Emeritus David Schoedinger; Vice President Kevin Schoedinger; and
Executive Director Dick Emens, Conway Family Business Center, which honored
Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service.

ICCFA Magazine

company. “It is an honor to serve families
from our 14 neighborhood chapels,” said
company President Michael Schoedinger.
“We have been creating healing experiences
for 160 years and look forward to serving
future generations of our community.”
n The Latin American Association of Cemeteries and Funeral
Services (ALPAR)
recently elected its board for
2015-17. Teresa Saavedra,
general manager of Parque de
las Memorials, Bolivia, was
re-elected president. Other
officers are Vice President
Juan Pablo Donetch, executive
vice president of Parque del
Recuerdo, Chile; and Secretary
Leticia Samperio, general manager of Previsora Plenitud, Mexico. Board members are
Fernando Valle Cantón, Sierras de Paz S.A.,
Nicaragua; Mario Marcos, Grupo Jardin del
Pilar S.A., Argentina; Eleonora Ayala, Prever
S.A., Colombia; and Carlos Roberto Belloso
Castro, Parques y Jardines de Cuscatlán S.A.,
El Salvador. Alternates are Jaime Ceballos, La
Ofrenda S.A., Colombia; Luis Eduardo Chartuni, Grupo Recordar, Colombia; José Elías
Flores Jr., Grupo Cortel, Brazil; Andrés Uribe
Aristizábal, Funeral International Group
S.A.S., Colombia; Gerardo Mora, Coopserfun,
Colombia; Andrés Aguilar, Señoriales Corporación de Servicio, Guatemala; and Maria
Marti- nelli, Rogelio Martinelli S.A., Uruguay.
Honorary members are Jorge Luis Tamayo
Gaviria, Asociado Honorario, Colombia;
Jaime Humberto Oquendo, Grupo Plenitud,
Colombia; and Carlos Durana, Colombia.
n Baldwin Brothers Funeral
and Cremation Society has added
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January 2016



Cole Imperi being interviewed for the
documentary “Mortal.”

n Cole Imperi, owner and creative director
at Doth and teaching faculty for ICCFA’s
Cremation Arranger Certification program,
is featured in the documentary “Mortal.”
Doth is a strategic branding and marketing
company that specializes in serving companies within the death-care profession. Imperi
is featured in the documentary as a deathcare professional and expert on generational
views on death and dying.
“Mortal” is a feature-length documentary

a location in Ormond Beach and now has
nine locations throughout Florida. The
Ormond Beach location is in a strip plaza, as
are some of the company’s other facilities.
n Carmon Community Funeral
HOmes, Windsor, Connecticut, joined
with the Hispanic-American Veterans of

The funeral service class of 2016 at
Mercer County Community College,
Trenton New Jersey, recently elected
class officers. They are, standing,
Vice President Ashley Power and
Treasurer Christopher Hassan. Seated are President AhKeem Towles
and Secretary Samantha Tripet.


ICCFA Magazine

produced by Working Pictures and directed
by Bobby Sheehan. It is currently in postproduction with an anticipated release date
in the next few months.
In addition to the interview with Imperi,
the firm features interviews with a wide
range of other experts and individuals from
around the world, from Tibetan monks and
survivors of war, to expectant parents and
elderly hospice patients.
Imperi brings her perspective to the film
through her work with the death-care profession, as well as her expertise in grief and
generational dynamics.
“My goal is to change the way we approach death and dying in the United
States. My hope is that my involvement in
this project will open the door for others in
death-care to join this important conversation,” said Imperi. “This discussion would
absolutely be incomplete without the input
from funeral directors and other death-care

Connecticut Inc. and American Legion
Post #59 in sponsoring a Wreaths Across
America wreath-laying ceremony. The
December 12 ceremony was at Windsor
Veterans Memorial Cemetery. The ceremony included a color guard, readings by
members of the local clergy and veterans,
followed by the laying of wreaths.
n Carriage services inc., Houston, Texas, has acquired Bright Funeral
Home & Cremation Center, Wake Forest,
Carolina. The firm was established in 1964
by Betty Bright. She and sons Randy and
Tommy serve more than 320 families per
year and will continue at the business. Bob
Prindiville will assume managing partner
responsibilities. Carriage operatess 167
funeral homes in 27 states and 32 cemeteries in 11 states.
n The Connecticut Funeral
Directors Association invited
the public to join them on their 10th
annual Operation ELF Christmas drive.
Children’s toys; gift cards for grocery
stores, home supply stores, gas stations and
pharmacies; and checks were collected for
Operation ELF, which assists the families of
Connecticut National Guard soldiers and
airmen who are deployed during the holidays, and provides a wide range of support
to military families throughout the year.

professionals who are the final caretakers
for nearly everyone in this country. We want
our funeral directors and death-care professionals engaging with the public, and this
documentary is a wonderful tool to help start
that conversation.”
A preview of “Mortal” via the trailer
is available now on the film’s Facebook
page. Those in death-care especially are
encouraged to share the trailer and join
the discussion.
More information can be found at and on Imperi’s
website, and

n Foundation Partners group, Orlando,
Florida, has promoted Justin
Baxley to the newly created positon of senior vice
president of business development. He will be responsible for implementing FPG’s
acquisition strategy. “Our
acquisition by Access Holdings earlier this
year provided FPG with the capital necessary
to fund an aggressive acquisitions campaign,”
said company President and CEO Brad Rex.
“Creating a new position focused solely on
acquisitions and placing Justin in this role will
help us accelerate these acquisitions.”
Baxley has been with Foundation Partners
Group for more than three years, since his
family’s firms, Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services,
joined FPG in 2012. Most recently, he held
the position of senior vice president, chief customer officer, with FPG. A second-generation
funeral director, Baxley received his associate’s
degree in mortuary science from St. Petersburg College and bachelor’s degree in business
management from Saint Leo University. Prior
to joining Foundation Partners Group, Baxley
was president of Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services and Highland Memorial Park. He is a
past-member of the Florida Board of Funeral,
Cemetery and Consumer Services and a
member of the board’s Probable Cause Panel.
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Ray Frew is recognized on Veterans Day
for his work on behalf of veterans.

n Ray Frew, CCFE, president and CEO
of Green Hills Memorial Park,
Rancho Palos Verde, California, was recently
honored for contributions to veterans by
the Redondo Beach Veterans Memorial
Task Force, working in conjunction with
the city of Redondo Beach.
Congresswoman Janice Hahn
participated in the event
and presented Frew with a
Congressional “Certificate of
Special Recognition” for his
“outstanding and invaluable
service to veterans.”
Green Hills holds one of
the largest Memorial Day observances in the
country, which attracts thousands of people.
A Vietnam veteran, Frew has worked to bring
together groups to help veterans. In 2011,
he learned of a program at the University
of Southern California studying veterans’
social and spychological issues. The program’s
graduates had no place to practice and no
patient base. Because of his involvement with
the YMCA, he knew the organization would
provide facilities for counseling but lacked
qualified counselors. Frew introduced the two
organizations to each other and counseling to
veterans and their families is now provided at
a YMCA facility.
Frew is a life member of Chapter 53, Vietnam Veterans of America and of the Veterans
of Foreign Wars, Carson Post 10166; and is a
member of the American Legion.
n pierce mortuary colleges,
Broadview, Illinois, has announced the
merger of Worsham College of Mortuary
Science, Wheeling, Illinois, into Pierce.
Other Pierce Mortuary colleges are Dallas
Institute of Funeral Service, Dallas, Texas,
Mid-America College of Funeral Service,
Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Gupton-Jones
College of Funeral Service, Decatur, Georgia.
Worsham, founded in 1911, is a private
institution offering an associate’s degree
Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

and is owned and operated by President
Karl Kann and Vice President Stephanie
Kann. Both will retain those positions
upon completion of the merger. “The
Wilbert Group and PMC will be perfect
long-term stewards of Worsham College,”
said Karl Kann.
Members of The Wilbert Group include
Wilbert Funeral Services Inc., Wilbert
Memorials, Wilbert Cemetery Construction, Pierce Chemicals, Pierce Mortuary
Colleges, Signet Supply and SI Precast.
n prospect hill cemetery &
Cremation Gardens, York, Pennsylvania, gave away Christmas trees to
veterans. The trees were made availalbe
at the cemetery entrance. Non-veterans

interested in a tree or greens were asked to
make a donation to Mr. Sandy’s Homeless
Veterans Center.
n uCLA has received a permit from the
city of Los Angeles to use bio-cremation
with its donated body program. The alkaline
hydrolysis process, which uses water and
potassium hydroxide, is used for disposition
of bodies donated to the David Geffen School
of Medicine at UCLA. The university tested
the process for three years.
n West Laurel Hill Cemetery,
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, recently held a
murder mystery dinner and an number of
other events, including benefits for local
organizations. For the mystery dinner, the
cemetery conservatory was transformed into

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January 2016


Photos by Don Doebler

n Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg,
Virginia, hosted a gathering by area Episcopal clergy to celebrate the Feast Day of
St. Francis of Assisi. Attendees brought
animals in pet carriers or on a leash, or
simply brought a photo of their pet for the
blessing by clergy. Donations in the form of
cat or dog food or money were requested
for the Lynchburg Humane Society, which
had animals on-site available for adoption.

a 1920s speakeasy. A cocktail hour, light fare
and a musical performance of period tunes by
a jazz quartet accompanied the show. Other
recent events included a networking event in
partnership with the Independence Business
Alliance; the Run4UrLife 3K Fun Run benefitting MANNA; Mystic Night, benefitting The
Belmont Hills Library; “Tales of Misfourtune,”
nighttime tour and storytelling; and handmade holiday, “Gifts from the Hive.”
n Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, Pittsburgh, Pennsylva-

nia, recently presented two scholarships.
The Fred Donatelli Scholarship was awarded
to Kelsey Haskins, Imperial, Pennsylvania,
for writing a paper entitled “Cremation
Campaign.” Haskins is a graduate of PIMS’
diploma program and is concluding her
studies at PIMS in the associate degree
program. Donatelli, owner of Pittsburgh
Cremation Service and Donatelli Memorials, established the scholarship for a student
who wishes to continue their education and
earn the associate in specialized business

a scholarship
from Dr.
Joe Marsaglia of

Dean Dr.
Marsaglia, left,
a scholarship
to John


ICCFA Magazine

degree in funeral service management.
Also, John Davis, of North Wales, Pennsylvania, who will be graduating January 22, was
awarded the PIMS/ABFSE scholarship. While
funding is provided by PIMS, the recipient is
selected by the American Board of Funeral
Service Education Scholarship Committee.
The Pittsburgh Institute has the largest
scholarship program of any funeral service
program in the country.
n The International Order of
the Golden Rule Foundation
is accepting applications for its Awards of
Excellence Scholarship Program through
February 29. The OGR Foundation will
award two scholarships, one for $3,500 and
another for $2,000. To be eligible, applicants
must be currently enrolled in a mortuary
science degree program at an accredited mortuary school, be scheduled to graduate during
2016, have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher,
and commit to working for an independently
owned funeral home. Applications can be
found at
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Supply Link is a superior tool for
our unique community that
streamlines your efforts to find
products and services.

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January 2016



Wide World of Sales • January 14-16, 2016 • las vegas, nevada

Register for the 2016 Sales Olympics before it’s too late!


o for the gold! Make your sales
faster, your profits higher and your
pitch stronger at the ICCFA Wide
World of Sales Conference, January 1315, at the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino in
Las Vegas, Nevada.
Wide World of Sales is the only
conference specifically devoted to sales and
marketing professionals in the end-of-life
You could be selling preneed or at-need,
insurance or urns, memorial services or
cremation, memorial jewelry or hospitality
options. Regardless of the product or
service, you need to know the most upto-date and effective selling techniques in
order to make all of your sales a winner.
The Wide World of Sales Conference is
known for providing a curriculum designed
to expand your knowledge of sales topics
and techniques.
Our keynoters share universal best
practices that apply to sales in any industry.
This year, the keynoters are:
• Weldon Long. He will present his
talk on the “Power of Consistency,”
where you learn to get the MIND

Wide World

of Sales

right, get the SALES right and get the
• “Antarctic Mike” Pierce. He will
talk about applying his marathon
experience to sales by increasing
mental strength and developing sound
habits of discipline.
Our breakout sessions, however,
are known for providing “how-tos”
specifically geared toward salespeople in
the funeral/cemetery profession. The list of
presentations this year includes:

• “Dealing with the Four F.E.A.R.
Motivations,” Dale Amundsen
• “21st Century Selling: Understanding
the Right Sales Approach for Today’s
Buying Behavior,” Ed Albertson
• “Flowchart for Family Service,”
Christine Toson Hentges, CCE
• “Killer Ways to Dominate Social
Media,” Ryan Thogmartin
• “First Who, Then What: Identifying
and Developing Top Performers,”
Mel Payne
Your registration includes access to
all educational sessions; the welcome
reception and fireside chat with Gary
O’Sullivan, CCFE; breakfast and lunch on
Thursday and coffee breaks throughout;
and the always popular sales binder
containing tips and additional support
material on topics covered by each speaker
that you can begin implementing as soon as
you get back to your office.
Time is running out to take advantage of
this conference! Walk-ins are welcome, but
we strongly suggest that you register now at 

Thank you to our sponsors
Ad Direct
Assurant Solutions
Biondan North America Inc.
Columbarium by Design LLC
Cypress Lawn
Eagle Granite Company
Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks &
Forethought Life Insurance Co.

ICCFA Magazine

Funeral Directors Life Insurance
FSI Trust Solutions
Hillside Memorial Park & Mortuary
Johnson Consulting Group
Live Oak Bank
Madelyn Co.
Matthews International Corp.
Memorial Bank Systems Inc.
NGL Insurance Group

Nomis Publications Inc.
NorthStar Memorial Group LLC
Pontem, Cemetery 360 & Osiris
StoneMor Partners LP
TesTeachers LLC
The Signature Group
ValleyCrest Landscaper

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page 85


Cremation certification programs scheduled for 2016


ew Cremation Certification programs have been
announced for 2016. The ICCFA is pleased to offer six
opportunities for you to earn your Crematory Operator
and Cremation Arranger certifications.
The ICCFA is one of two industry associations specifically
identified in several state laws as approved cremation training
The Crematory Arranger certification, exclusively offered by
the ICCFA, is a six-hour intensive training is designed to give
you new tools to create better cremation arrangements. Learn
the history of cremation, pertinent laws and regulations, how to
identify your customer base, how demographics should impact
your marketing and arrangement process and how people’s
perception of price affects their behavior. All of this information
is presented with one singular focus—to help you create a better
arrangement for each family you serve.

The ICCFA Crematory Operator Certification program is
presented in partnership with Crematory Manufacturing &
Service Inc. The extensive training curriculum includes:
• professional & incinerator terminology
• principles of combustion
• incinerator criteria and design
• basics of operating equipment
• maintenance and troubleshooting
• forms and record keeping
• handling and exposure control
Attendees will receive a comprehen­sive Operations Manual
covering all aspects of crematory operations and mainte­­nance.
You must pass an open-book, take-home test to receive your
certification. For more information and to register for classes,

February 24-25, 2016
Operator: Feb. 24
Arranger: Feb. 25
Mid-America College of Funeral Services •
Jefferson, IN

2016 cremation


April 19-20, 2016
Operator: April 19
Arranger: April 20
Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Services •
Decatur, GA
May 24-25, 2016
Operator: May 24
Arranger: May 25
Dallas Institute of Funeral Service • Dallas, TX

Register at

HURRY: 2016 music license prices increase February 1


usic licenses through the ICCFA are
$263 per location by January 31, 2016,
($276 thereafter). You may add on a
webcasting license for $48 per location.
Music licensing is the law, and failure to
obtain a license where one is required can be
costly: Copyright law provides for damages
similar to fines of up to $30,000 for each song
that is infringed. If your company, regardless of size, hosts
performances of copyrighted music—whether the music is
performed live, played from recordings or played online—music
copyright owners say you are legally required to pay an annual
licensing fee.

ICCFA Magazine

The ICCFA is pleased to offer a low rate on
music licenses that are a direct pass-through of
the combined annual fees from ASCAP, BMI and
SESAC. Licensing directly with the agencies this
year would cost nearly $600 per property.
A webcasting license allows for broadcasting
of services via the internet throughout the world.
You must have a music license before you
purchase a webcasting license.
To purchase a music and webcasting license, visit If you’re looking to register more than
four properties, completion of a paper form is required and
can be downloaded from our website.
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page 87


Introducing the ICCFA Business Insurance Program


• Workers compensation: Provides coverage
n a daily basis, you are there to care
for families during a difficult time.
in the case of an employee being injured while
As a business owner, you also have to
at work.
worry about day-to-day operations. The ICCFA
• Funeral directors professional: Coverage
Business Insurance Program protects your
is recommended for all practicing funeral
business so that you can focus on compassion,
directors. This coverage protects you against
not coverage.
any claims made by loved ones for unethical or
As an ICCFA member, you have access to
unprofessional conduct at the funeral as well as
exclusive business insurance solutions that
errors and omissions relating to cremation or
have been tailored to the needs and exposures
disposition of the body.
Kaitlin Radke, ICCFA
of the funeral industry. In partnership with
business insurance
• Cyber liability (aka data breach coverage):
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., you will benefit from
Offers protection to the business in the case of
competitive pricing, superior customer service
a data breach in which the firm’s customers’
and a sales team dedicated to ICCFA members.
personal information is exposed or stolen. This can also
Business insurance p roducts include:
provide coverage for stolen electronic devices such as
• Property insurance: Covers against damage to property such
laptops, tablets and cellular phones.
as fire, windstorms, hail, lightning, theft or vandalism.
We are committed to serving the needs of ICCFA members
• General liability: Covers against a range of third-party
and bringing quality customer care. Call or email today to join
claims, such as personal injury or property damage caused by
the ICCFA Business Insurance Program:
you or an employee.
Kaitlin Radke
• Commercial auto: Similar to personal vehicle insurance,
ICCFA Business Insurance Specialist
commercial auto protects against claims such as collision,
comprehensive, medical payments, uninsured motorists and
other liability.

New ICCFA member benefit: Budget truck rental discount


ake your budget go further by getting a great deal on a
great truck from Budget. As an ICCFA member, you’ll get
an amazing deal every time you rent—up to 25 percent
off Budget’s great rates. To book your car, visit Budget Truck Rental
or call, toll free, 1.800.527.0700 and mention the ICCFA Budget
Discount number (BCD): V052518 to receive your discount.
Make the smart choice, rent Budget and start saving today!

Annual Meeting of Members

Thursday, April 14 B 9:15 to 10 a.m. B New Orleans, Louisiana
All ICCFA members are encouraged to attend the association’s Annual Meeting of
Members. Vote for members to represent you on the Board of Directors, listen to officer
reports on the state of ICCFA and fully engage in the running of your association.


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New Members
Providing exceptional education, networking
and legislative guidance and support to
progressive cemetery, funeral and cremation
professionals worldwide
For information about the ICCFA and Membership:
• Go to to download a benefits
brochure and an application form.
• Call 1.800.645.7700 to have membership information faxed or
mailed to you.

Membership applications
Admission to ICCFA membership normally requires a majority vote
of those present and voting at any meeting of the executive committee. The names of all applicants must be published in this magazine.
ICCFA members objecting to an application must do so in writing to
the ICCFA executive director within 45 days of publication.
In the event of an objection, the executive committee will conduct
an inquiry. If an applicant is rejected, they will be granted an appeal
upon written request. The decision of the Board of Directors shall
be final.


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Fippinger Funeral Home
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R. Mason Bros. Memorial Chapel
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January 2016


I C C F A 2 0 1 6 C O n v e n t io n & E x p o i n N e w O r l e a n s

bringing our profession together

Expo hours
Wednesday, April 13
4-7 p.m.
Grand Opening Reception (open
bar and heavy hors d’oeurvres)
Thursday, April 14
noon-5 p.m.
Lunch at the Expo &
IMSA happy hour
Friday, April 15
10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Lunch at the Expo

The ICCFA convention features free food
and beverage service during Expo hours,
scheduled not to conflict with speakers.

Special Event

Expo Grand Opening Celebration Wednesday, April 13, 3:30 p.m.

Join us near the main entrance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for a proper
New Orleans Second Line (a walking/marching parade) all the way to the ICCFA expo hall
as dignitaries declare the 2016 Expo officially open. Handkerchiefs, parasols and other fun
trinkets will be provided to wave in the air as you “pass a good time.”

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I C C F A 2 0 1 6 C O n v e n t io n & E x p o i n N e w O r l e a n s

General Session Keynote Speakers
The secret

Ken Blanchard,
author, “The One
Minute Manager”

The secret of great
leaders is one that
might baffle many.
But basically, a great leader serves his/
her followers. Through this program,
you will discover and explore the five
fundamental ways a manager leads
through service:
see the future
engage and develop others
reinvent continuously
value results and relationships and
embody values.
In understanding these simple
principles, you will benefit yourself,
your organization and those who look
to you for guidance.
Blanchard’s impact as an author is
far-reaching. His iconic 1982 classic,
“The One Minute Manager,” coauthored with Spencer Johnson, has
sold more than 13 million copies and
remains on best-seller lists today. In the
past three decades, he has authored or
co-authored 60 books with combined
sales of more than 21 million copies.
His groundbreaking works—including
“Raving Fans,” “The Secret” and
“Leading at a Higher Level,” to name
just a few—have been translated into
more than 42 languages. In 2005,
Blanchard was inducted into Amazon’s
Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 bestselling authors of all time.
Book sale & signing in the expo hall

Health, wealth
& success

Recipe for success
John Best, chef, restaurateur
& entrepreneur

It’s been 10 years since Hurricane
Katrina devastated a 200-squaremile swath of the Gulf Coast,
including one of America’s
cultural gems, New Orleans. The
city has always been one of the most thrilling
culinary epicenters in America (maybe even the
world), but it took that serious storm to get much
of the rest of the country to stop taking it for
granted—thanks in part to the tireless rebuilding
efforts of the community, including chef John
Over the last decade, Besh has served as an
unofficial culinary ambassador for the Crescent
City, opening a diverse group of restaurants
representing all facets of its gastronomic identity,
publishing cookbooks that double as love
letters to Louisiana and starting major charitable
endeavors to preserve and support the foodways
of the Louisiana bayou.
In this session, Besh will discuss his journey
from Louisiana native son to U.S. Marine to chef
and entrepreneur. He’ll share what he thinks
are some keys to success in the challenging and
ruthless world of restaurateurs.
Besh’s cachet has risen over the past 10 years,
just as New Orleans has during its recovery from
Katrina. He says both are a direct reflection of the
resiliency of the region’s people, and that passion
is required of business leaders in order to survive
and thrive in today’s marketplace.
He will also discuss how he has cultivated
talent in his organization and how you can, as
well. Besh says that he is lucky to be surrounded
by great people who live and breathe the mission
of his brand, but it didn’t just happen by chance.

Jeannine English,
president, AARP

AARP believes that there are
three tenets for successfully
growing older: health, wealth
and self. These values can empower people to
live independently and take control of their
lives, including their end-of-life decisions.
For health, they say we need to begin to
focus on preventing disease and improving
well-being instead of just treating ailments.
We need to help people feel empowered to
become active partners in their health care
instead of being dependent patients.
Wealth means personally having financial
resilience. Also, AARP wishes to stress that an
active, engaged, employed older population
has the potential to be more of an economic
boom than a social challenge—that the
growing number of older people is not a
drain on society, but a key driver of economic
growth, innovation and new value creation.
For self, we must change the conversation
from aging as decline to aging as continuous
growth and opportunities for personal
fulfillment. We must help people go
from feeling powerless to having a deep
sense of purpose and positive self-image.
This also includes preplanning their final
English will discuss these ideas and tie
them in with how they apply—and what
AARP advocates—in regards to preneed
planning, palliative care, hospice and
celebration of life.

The communication revolution: Driving growth through social business
Ryan Estis, Fortune 500 business &
communication advisor

The world of work is changing. In this
session, Ryan Estis will explore the ongoing
evolution in how we connect, communicate
and collaborate to accomplish meaningful
work. Global, economic, generational and
technological changes have left us with
new expectations about how work should
happen. As a result, the traditional approach
to workplace productivity and performance
Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

isn’t working. This keynote
presentation examines how
progressive companies
are staying ahead of the
competition and responding
to these changes by making
their business more social.
Estis prepares participants to
leverage the social revolution
and get connected to compete in the new
world of work.

By the end of this session, you will:
Understand the implications of new media
and the benefits of embracing social business
Learn trends and forecasts about the global
workforce and the future of work
Understand the impact of social technology
on business relationships
Find out how to adapt and embrace social
business in a way that benefits the bottom line
Get to know millennials, today’s digital
natives and the next generation of leaders.
January 2016


I C C F A 2 0 1 6 C O n v e n t io n & E x p o i n N e w O r l e a n s


ICCFA Annual Meeting of Members

Thursday, April 14, 8-9:30 a.m. All ICCFA members are encouraged to attend the association’s Annual

Meeting of Members. Vote for members to represent you on the Board of Directors, listen to officer reports
on the state of the ICCFA and fully engage in the running of your association.

Educational Foundation Chairman Jim
Price, CCFE, CCrE,
with Dave Wharmby,
CCE, last year’s
Lasting Impact
Award recipient.

ICCFA Educational Foundation Reception (requires a ticket)

Thursday, April 14, 6-7 p.m. Join us for a reception to honor donors and scholarship recipients,

and to present the ICCFA Educational Foundation Lasting Impact Award to someone who has
significantly contributed to advancing education within our profession. Tickets: $50. Refreshments
and hors d’oeuvres will be served. All proceeds will benefit the Educational Foundation, a taxexempt 501(c)(3) charity that supports the association’s educational programs.

ICCFA Memorial Service

KIP Awards

Friday, April 15, 8:30-8:40 a.m. Tribute and memorialization are at the heart of what we

do. Join us as we remember colleagues and loved ones of ICCFA members who have passed
away this past year. If you would like to remember a loved one who has died, please send us
a profile and photos for inclusion in the service. Instructions and a PDF form can be found
at The deadline for submission is February 29.

ICCFA Prayer Breakfast: “What to say when
a terrorist asks if you’re a Christian” (tickets limited)

Friday, April 15, 7:30-8:30 a.m. Come join us for breakfast and fellowship at this year’s
Prayer Breakfast, led by Paul Elvig and Alan Creedy. This year’s Prayer Breakfast is complimentary courtesy of generous sponsorships. It is open to the first 60 individuals who show
up to the breakfast—first-come, first-served. Sorry, spouses/guests may not attend.

State Association Leadership
Luncheon (ticket required)

Winners of 2015 KIP
(Keeping It Personal)
Awards will be honored during a ceremony
on the general session stage.
The KIP Awards recognize the best in
personalization. The awards were created
by ICCFA’s Personalization Committee to
recognize outstanding examples of
personalization of services or products
in the death-care profession.

First-Timers reception
Thursday, April 14, 5-6 p.m.

Saturday, April 16, 1-2:30 p.m.

Elected leaders, staff and “rising stars” from
state and regional associations are invited
to gather at this roundtable luncheon to
network and share the issues affecting
their members. A ticket is required and can
be purchased on your registration form.
Tickets: $60.

Friday, April 15,
8:50-9 a.m.

Last year’s First-Timers’ Reception.

Will this be your first time attending the
ICCFA Annual Convention & Exposition?
Come meet other members who are also
new to the convention, as well as ICCFA
volunteers and leaders at this special
reception dedicated to welcoming you.
Admission to the reception is included
with every full registration.

Closing Reception & Dinner

Saturday, April 16, reception 7-8 p.m.; dinner 8-11 p.m. Join us for an open bar before the Closing Dinner, where we close the convention
with dinner and entertainment. The ICCFA presidential transfer from Darin Drabing to Michael Uselton, CCFE, will take place during this event,
as will the exchange of gifts with our fellow international groups. Tickets are included with full attendee and spouse/guest registrations.
All others may purchase a ticket on the registration form. A jazz ensemble will serenade attendees. Dancing is encouraged.

For more details and the latest updates about the convention, go to


Updates on social media

Continuing Education

Session recordings

Get the lates convention information &
announcements by following the ICCFA on
social media:; @iccfa

Earn up to 15.5 CE credits. Pick up a
form at the ICCFA Registration Desk.

Stop by the ICCFA Registration Desk to
order recordings of 2016 convention
breakout sessions.

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page 93

I C C F A 2 0 1 6 C O n v e n t io n & E x p o i n N e w O r l e a n s

Breakout Sessions

pages 94-110

Death embraced: New Orleans tombs and burial customs
Behind the scenes accounts of decay, love & tradition
Mary LaCoste

LaCoste will share what she learned through her genealogical and historical research into the burial customs of New Orleans,
all with a bit of subtle humor and from her unique perspective as a local tour guide and educator.
LaCoste is a native of New Orleans with a successful retirement career as a tour guide and journalist. Over the years she has served as
a teacher, principal and university instructor. She spent several years in Europe and Pennsylvania and returned home with a renewed
appreciation of the unique history and customs of her city. Fascinated by the tomb owned by her husband’s family and determined to set the record
straight for visitors and her many grandchildren, she began the long process of seeking out information through personal inquiry and research sources.

Hospice: Developing a relationship that matters
Doug Wagemann, MBA, CCFE

Join Wagemann to learn the latest facts and trends in hospice care in the United States. He will discuss various ways to develop
valuable relationships with hospice decision-makers and share successful strategies that are currently working with funeral
service businesses/organizations that are enhancing both organizations and the services provided to families.
Wagemann, of Wagemann Holdings Inc., has been associated with funeral service for over 40 years. During this time, he has become
involved with hospices on the local, state, national and international level, including hospice work in Russia, Italy, Canada and India,
and has served on numerous hospice boards. He also has served on the board of the National Hospice Foundation (NHF) and is a frequent speaker
discussing the statistics, facts and trends of hospice services throughout the United States.

Government & Legal Panel
Moderated by Irwin W. Shipper, CCE
Saturday, April 16, 9 a.m.

Join ICCFA Government & Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Shipper and his panel of legal and regulatory specialists for this
session. Panelists will provide the latest updates on changing regulations and recommend strategies to make compliance work
for you.

Special Event
Funeral Home & Cemeteries Tour (ticket required)

Saturday, April 16, 2-5 p.m. Conclude your educational experience with
tours of a funeral home and two of the most famous cemeteries in New Orleans. Lakelawn Metairie Cemetery is considered one of the top 10 cemeteries in the country due to its unique historical significance and beauty. Metairie Cemetery is the final resting place of numerous famous and revered
people, including nine Louisiana governors, seven mayors of New Orleans
and three Confederate generals. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, opened in 1789,
is the oldest cemetery in the city, with all of its burial vaults above ground. It
is the final resting place of, among others, voodoo queen Marie Laveau and
Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial, New Orleans’ first African- American mayor. You can
purchase a ticket when you register (registration form is on page 112).

To reserve your room at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel, go online to or call 1.800.HILTONS. Room rate of $214 per night (no
resort fee) is available if you book by February 29. Special room rate available April 10-17.


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I C C F A 2 0 1 6 C O n v e n t io n & E x p o i n N e w O r l e a n s


Cremation headaches: How to handle
the day-to-day issues Poul Lemasters, Esq.

This is the seminar that takes a look at the REAL headaches facing cremation, the ones
every cremation provider faces. What are these day-to-day issues? Consider just a few:
missing children; out-of-town signatures; using a notary; electronic signatures; family
conflicts; no next-of-kin. Unfortunately the worst-case stories, including lost cremated
remains, wrongful cremations and million-dollar lawsuits, aren’t going away, but let’s
tackle the everyday issues and get some solutions that we can all use.
Lemasters is the ICCFA cremation programs coordinator and also serves as a special counsel to the ICCFA
on cremation legal issues. He is an attorney and principal of Lemasters Consulting. Lemasters holds both
funeral director and embalmer licenses in Ohio and West Virginia.

Cremation statistics: Turning trends into action
Mark Matthews

Matthews will give a review of the CANA cremation statistics, looking at current trends
and market fluctuations. Using straightforward exercises, he will use the statistics and
look into how they impact an existing business. This interactive session will identify
strategies to remain profitable in today’s market.
Licensed by the state of California as a funeral director, cemetery manager and crematory manager,
Matthews is a past president of the Cremation Association of North America and recently completed a term
as president of the Association of California Cremationists. He is a subject matter expert for the California
Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau and is founding president of Diocese of San
Bernardino Cemetery Corp. at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery.

Win/win in the arrangement conference
Michael J. Watkins, CFSP, CCO

Family dynamics are more complex and demanding than ever, and this fact is driving
change in the funeral profession. Families are looking for real guidance and real value. They
are seeking consultation and direction, not just a caring hand. Whether a family is deciding
on cremation or traditional burial should not matter. The service selection and what
families choose is in your control and your professional obligation is to guide them in the right direction.
Watkins will explore the fundamental communication roadblocks funeral and cemetery professionals
face with their families as they balance their roles as consultant and caregiver. In addition, he will clarify
the real value proposition that will help take end-of-life services to the next generation.
Watkins is vice president of operations and compliance, The Signature Group, Houston, Texas. He has been
involved in various capacities in both public and private funeral and cemetery organizations during his more
than 32 years in the industry. Prior to joining The Signature Group, Watkins served as the senior vice president
of operations for the National Funeral Directors Association, where he oversaw the accounting, information
technology, human resources and cremation services departments.

What to do with unclaimed remains

The memorial
idea Jason Ryan Engler

One of the most important
aspects of the history of
cremation in the United
States is a period cremation
historian Engler identifies as the
memorialization era. During this time,
permanent memorialization of cremated
remains came into its own. Some of
the most beautiful urn gardens and
columbaria were constructed to inurn
bronze memorial urns.

This presentation by CANA historian
Engler will include a brief history of
cremation, then memorialization, from the
earliest cremation memorials through the
memorialization era and into the present
day. Attendees will learn the history of
cremation memorialization and, most
important, will learn why this historic
rite is so important for families choosing
cremation in the present day. Attendees
will walk away with the knowledge and
understanding of their important role,
duty and sacred trust that is important for
ensuring the past, present and future of the
death-care profession.
Engler is a licensed funeral director,
cremation specialist, consultant and
historian, certified celebrant, CANA
Certified Crematory Operator and an
ICCFA Certified Cremation Arranger. As the
Cremation Association of North America’s
official historian, he has the statistics
and resources of the association’s past
at his fingertips, and uses them to show
the origin and growth of cremation in
America, and the transition the rite has

Dr. David R. Penepent

A growing problem in the funeral industry today is the problem that funeral directors have with clients who fail to claim their loved
one’s cremated remains after the cremation process has been concluded. This presentation will explore some of the reasons why some
people fail to claim their loved one’s cremated remains, and provide some practical ways to deal with the issue.
Penepent is the CEO of and a lecturer for Advanced Funeral Service Education Programs, a professional lecturing company accredited in five
states, and lectures to more than 500 funeral directors annually. He was the manager of the Herson Funeral Home for nine years and is a New
York licensed funeral director and embalmer.

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I C C F A 2 0 1 6 C O n v e n t io n & E x p o i n N e w O r l e a n s

Staff retention: How to keep the best and change the rest Shannon Leahy

Attracting and inspiring employees is one of the most challenging parts of leadership. We want to hire the best people but often we
get stuck with a pest, someone who was great in the interview but turns out to be horrible with families and staff. Once they’re hired,
they’re hard to fire. So how do you attract people who love what they do, work hard and stay dedicated to making a difference in the
world? The business-as-usual job posting won’t attract them. Business-as-usual interview questions won’t inspire them. You can attract
the best people for your business by showing them what you’re building and asking them what they see. This helps you reveal the
person behind the resume. A few simple changes during the interview process can attract the best people for your business.
Leahy is founder and “head honcho” of Raystorm Communications, Toronto, Ontario. When not acting as writer-and-trainer-in-residence down at the local
funeral home, she is facilitating leadership and development workshops for the ICCFA, the Funeral Service Association of Canada and the Human Resources
Association of Canada.

Why bigger is better: The fastest
way to grow your business Doug Gober

It’s no secret that the funeral service business is getting tough for small
operators. Margins are thinner, competition is tougher and state regulatory
protections are under attack. One of the best ways out of this minefield is
to stop being a small operator, to grow your business to a level where the
worst of those challenges just no longer apply to you. In this presentation, Gober will
share the top three or four growth strategies and examine the pros and cons of each
one, sharing ways you can evaluate which ones will do the most for your operation.
Gober is owner and president of Gober Strategic Capital, Kenner, Louisiana. He began
his funeral service career 36 years ago as a sales representative in the casket industry. He
has earned numerous national awards from various organizations within the death-care
industry. In 2012, he joined Live Oak Bank, based in Wilmington, North Carolina, serving as
an industry liaison and senior loan officer, connecting those in death-care management with
the opportunity for financing.

When does a 1% increase mean a 20%
decline for your trust? Managing portfolio
risk in a rising interest rate environment
James M. Cholet, CRPC

After 35 years of declining interest rates and stable bond prices, the
Federal Reserve has stated its intent to begin raising rates. What effect
might that have on your bonds, mutual funds or exchange traded funds? Attend this
session, presented by veteran financial advisor Cholet, to better understand how
increasing interest rates affect bond prices and what steps you can take as a fiduciary to
help protect your portfolio.
Cholet is vice president—wealth management at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management,
Frederick, Maryland. A financial advisor for more than 30 years, he has advised clients
all over the globe with their planning needs. He has hosted a local television program,
“Financial Focus,” and is a former member of Toastmaster’s International.

Vital signs:
Is your funeral
business healthy?
Tim Bridgers

Your doctor or hospital relies on a few
simple tests to get a pretty clear picture
of your overall health—your vital signs. The same
is true for funeral homes. Based on their work with
hundreds of firms across the U.S., Live Oak Bank starts
with a few key metrics to gauge the health of the
business. Bridgers will look at those vital signs and
how they’re used to guide capital investment and
lending decisions. He will also offer prescriptions that
business owners can use to improve their numbers
and build the value of their businesses.
Bridgers is a senior loan officer for Live Oak Bank,
Wilmington, North Carolina. He joined Live Oak in 2014
with more than 10 years of business and entrepreneurial
experience. He studied mechanical engineering
at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
and business at the University of North Carolina at
Wilmington, and completed his finance degree at Liberty
University, Lynchburg, Virginia. This diverse education
prepared Bridgers for success in sales, marketing and
He is a former business owner and developer of
two successful companies, so he understands the
challenges business owners face. As a senior loan
officer, he is dedicated to helping funeral home owners
understand the importance of the financial health of
their businesses.

Can we really borrow business strategy from Walmart?

Paul J. Seyler

It’s fair to say most independent operators want to be the opposite of Walmart—smaller, locally owned and nowhere near those razorthin profit margins. Surprisingly, there are some strategy lessons independents can learn from the retailing giant—about leverage,
facilities, collaboration and competitive advantage. This presentation looks at a few of the less well known factors in Walmart’s success
and how independent firms can use them to build a better, more competitive business.
Since 1993, Paul Seyler has headed Competitive Resources Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana, a marketing firm with core strengths in research,
strategy development, brand management, technology and training. Prior to forming Competitive Resources, he spent 10 years in marketing,
IT and strategic planning with firms in financial services and real estate.


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Cemetery Management
Top 10 things you need to know about
cremation garden development
Jeff Kidwiler, CCE, CSE, & John Bolton, CCE

With the national cremation rate approaching 50 percent, more and
more ICCFA members are looking to provide a permanent placement
for their families when they choose cremation. In today’s climate,
more than 80 percent of those who choose cremation take the cremated remains home instead of
using a cemetery to permanently memorialize their loved one. After developing over 150 garden
projects across the United States over the past five years, Kidwiler and Bolton have developed a list
of 10 things that anyone looking to install a cremation garden development needs to know.
Kidwiler is owner of Blackstone Memorials and Blackstone Cemetery Development, San Clemente,
California. He is ICCFA University chancellor, past ICCFA president and past chairman of the ICCFA
Sales & Marketing Committee. Bolton is Blackstone’s president. Bolton and Kidwiler have more than
50 years of combined experience in all facets of the profession, including cemetery management,
cemetery ownership, funeral home management, supply chain management, administration,
maintenance, sales, family service and garden development.

Turning a small-town cemetery into a big-time asset
Erin Whitaker

Cemeteries can be profitable businesses, but all too often they are not for the
small-town cemeterian. The feeling of obligation to the community and a general
misunderstanding of cemetery management frequently result in passively
managed cemeteries. Simply stated, most small-town cemeterians focus on
interring the dead rather than making their businesses thrive. The motivation
is more to fill the need for someone to be in charge, to make sure services are
scheduled, the graves are opened and the lawn maintained than it is to generate a profit.
Whitaker will share a plan for creating staffing, pricing and marketing strategies to generate a
profit and turn a small-time cemetery into a big-time asset.
Whitaker is senior director, operations integration, for Foundation Partners Group, Orlando, Florida.
As a third-generation funeral director, she brings a diverse and comprehensive background to her
role at FPG. After undergraduate studies, she joined Eastman Kodak as a chemical engineer and
project manager. After six years at Kodak, she returned to South Carolina to attend graduate school
and obtain an MBA degree. While completing her degree, she began working part-time at the family’s
funeral home, Whitaker Funeral Home in Newberry, South Carolina.

Improving your most valuable asset
through smart technology
Mike Mason

One of a cemetery’s most valuable assets is its real estate. A beautiful landscape
is an essential part of a cemetery’s overall reputation. From analyzing thousands
of professionally landscaped and managed commercial properties, we’ve
learned that common irrigation mistakes cause water waste, costly damage to landscape and
unnecessary expense. The cost of water is skyrocketing, along with water restrictions and fines
for non-compliance. Attendees will learn how smart irrigation technology can maintain or
improve the health of the landscape while reducing water use and costs, minimizing landscape/
hardscape damage, reducing labor for reprogramming controllers around funerals/weather/
restrictions and helping facilities avoid non-compliance fines.
Mason is president and CEO of Weathermatic, Garland, Texas. He has continually been at the
forefront of new industries. At Weathermatic, he is revolutionizing the green industry through cloudbased water management technology and services. Under his leadership, the 70-year-old company
has transitioned from a traditional irrigation manufacturer to an industry-leading sustainable, hightech, socially conscious water management brand.

ICCFA Magazine

Challenging traditional
cemetery development:
You have more revenue
potential left
than you think
Chris Keller

Cemeteries fall into predictable
patterns of development, and
tend to expand in ways that are
tried and true. By doing this, vast amounts of
profitable space are often overlooked. Keller
will show how in-fill of previously sold out
areas, creating mixed use/high density spaces,
can completely change a cemetery’s revenue
stream, extend its sellable life and change the
public’s perception of the space.
Keller is vice president, French FuneralsCremations/Sunset Memorial Park, Albuquer­
que, New Mexico. He is responsible for all
new development. They are in the midst of a
complete renovation of their cemetery master
plan, finding millions of dollars of addition
property potential when just seven years ago
they thought they were nearly sold out. He sits
on several industry council/study groups, and is
a member of the ICCFA Board of Directors.

Growing the triple bottom
line: People, planet & profit
Gino Merendino

This session will discuss creating
a sustainable cemetery using
best practices from gardens,
arboretums and cemeteries
around the world. Innovative
ideas will be presented, from
solar-powered memorials to lily turf lawns
that get mowed once per year. These
innovations will help you and your team make
your establishment a first-class sustainable
Merendino is chief gardener for Merendino
Cemetery Care, Linden, New Jersey. He holds a
bachelor’s degree in business management from
Rutgers University and is a Rutgers Cooperative
Extension master gardener. He is the architect
of the Veteran Administration approved GI Bill
Apprenticeship Training Program for cemetery
care managers. At Merendino, he is responsible
for the mowing and trimming of 2,500 acres
of cemetery property weekly in New York, New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Illinois, as
well as the outsourcing of one out of every 600
burials in the USA.
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Funeral Service Management
Protect & preserve your client’s legacy

Margaret Hoyt, J.D., M.B.A.

Hoyt will present unique ways legal and funeral professionals can partner to mutually enhance their combined visibility in the
community of people they serve. She will explore five compelling ways to protect and preserve a client’s legacy, with a focus on the
needs of the next generation.
Author and co-founder of The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan, Oviedo, Florida, Hoyt practices in the areas of family wealth and legacy
counseling, including trust and estate planning and administration, elder law, small business creation, succession and exit planning, real
estate transactions and animal law. In addition to her law degree, she holds a Florida real estate license. She serves as a certified FINRA arbitrator and is also
a Florida Circuit Court mediator, concentrating in family business and estate matters.

Adding pet loss
services to your
business Jodi Clock, CPLP

The pet industry has grown
exponentially, and baby boomers
are seeking out new solutions
for their pets’ end-of-life care. If you are
considering pet death-care as an addition to
your existing value proposition, this session
will help you understand the pros and cons
of entering the market as it relates to your
business today.
Clock will share tips on how to enter the
market on a shoestring and discuss the target
market you want to attract, what you should
expect from your existing staff and why it’s
critical to have them on board. She will also
talk about how families seeking pet services
differ from the families you are accustomed to
dealing with, and how you can use pet services
to create a partnership with hospice.
Clock is owner of Clock Timeless Pets and
co-owner of Clock Funeral Homes, Muskegon,
Michigan. For more than 25 years, she has
worked in the end-of-life planning business,
including family and corporately owned funeral
homes, advance funeral planning companies,
casket manufacturers and insurance agencies.
She writes and speaks about the basics of
Medicaid and asset protection and is a seasoned
expert in end-of-life directives. She and her son
own a cremation business.

Trauma and healing in the funeral home
Dr. David Penepent, PhD, CFSP, & Thomas Fuller

This lecture is designed is to teach the techniques of restoration after trauma.
The step-by-step process will provide the funeral director an opportunity to learn
how to create a positive memory picture. The second half of this presentation
will provide suggestions on how to discharge the negative energy that handling
trauma cases presents in the funeral home.
David Penepent is the CEO of and a lecturer for Advanced Funeral Service Education
Programs, a professional lecturing company accredited in five states, and lectures to
more than 500 funeral directors annually. He was the manager of the Herson Funeral
Home for nine years and is a New York licensed funeral director and embalmer.
Fuller manages the Herson Wagner Funeral Home in Ithaca, New York. He holds a
master’s degree from the New School for Social Research in New York City. He spent
nearly 15 years in funeral service education, where he taught at the Simmons Institute of Funeral
Service, the country’s second oldest mortuary school.

Dueling funerals Todd W. Van Beck, CFuE

Even if you’re not a history buff, this seminar will fascinate you. Sit back and let Van
Beck, one of the best storytellers in the funeral and cemetery profession, take you
on a journey into the deaths and funerals of two basically opposite personalities:
Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, and Abraham
Lincoln, president of the United States of America.
The only thing these two men had in common was they were both born in Kentucky. They
took very divergent paths in life that came together during the American Civil War. Jefferson
Davis outlived Lincoln by almost a quarter of a century, and his death and funeral, which
happened in New Orleans, tell a remarkable story of one man’s courage and journey in a world
that had changed greatly since Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender in 1865.
Van Beck is an active amateur history-lover. He is director of graduate studies at John A. Gupton
College, Nashville, Tennessee. He holds a master’s degree from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary,
Cincinnati, Ohio; a bachelor’s degree from Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; an honorary
doctorate from the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service, Houston, Texas; and a graduate
diploma in mortuary arts and sciences from the New England Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.

Benefits available to your veteran families

Michael Nacincik

Nacincik, who is chief of communications and outreach support for the National Cemetery Administration, Washington, D.C., will
present an overview of important information for funeral industry professionals about benefits available to their veteran clients/
family members; procedures on eligibility; how to schedule a burial at a VA national cemetery; and how to request other memorial
benefits from the VA. New benefits and programs such as preneed eligibility determination and the casket/urn reimbursement
program and how the VA can assist with unclaimed remains will be discussed. Information about how to stay connected with the
National Cemetery Administration and how to receive periodic updates on memorial benefits and programs will be provided.
Nacincik is responsible for external and internal communication activities for the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) and is the principal advisor to
the under secretary for memorial affairs on public affairs matters. Prior to joining the NCA in 2000, he was with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Sales & Marketing
Stay relevant: Giving families what they want Heather Garman & Tracy Fetters

Are you delivering what your consumers really want? Have you ever had a family bring in their own merchandise or
choose the lowest priced “something” because they didn’t find something they liked? Do you deliver product options
families find real meaning in and that make them feel positively connected to you for providing?
Listen and learn from consumer research. Hear from real families who were thrilled, somewhat satisfied or disappointed
with lack of memorialization options. Learn what real customers thought of the funeral arrangements they made for their
loved ones and what options they were or weren’t presented. Garman and Fetters will discuss ways to apply active listening
skills, feedback tracking and evaluation, along with customer satisfaction surveys, to help you stay relevant and really make a “wow” statement.
Garman is director of marketing for Messenger, Auburn, Indiana. She has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and customer service and
specializes in finding ways to “wow” customers.
Fetters is marketing and communications supervisor for Messenger. She has more than 15 years of experience in B2B and B2C marketing and
communications. She leverages a variety of communication and research methods to engage customer feedback.

Bringing leads into
your sales pipeline
Dale Filhaber

Every cemetery and funeral
home needs to market. The key
to success is to market wisely and
generate quality leads on an on-going basis.
One way to do this is to develop a strategic
lead-generation program that brings leads into
the sales pipeline day-in/day-out. There are
different tactics for developing preneed leads,
creating high visibility for at-need and finding
the right prospects for final expenses.
This session will cover prospecting by
direct mail, telemarketing and email, as well
as the opportunities for maximizing in-house
lists. Also discussed will be how search engine
optimization (SEO), social media and becoming
a community resource can impact your leadgeneration.
Filhaber is president and “listologist supreme”
of Dataman Group Direct Mail & Telemarketing
Lists, Boca Raton, Florida. Dataman was founded
in 1981 and has provided thousands of clients
across the country with accurate, high quality
direct mail and telemarketing lists. Known as
DataDale, she is a certified listologist—one of the
few in the industry today, and a direct marketing
commentator who writes articles and blog posts
for Water Technology online, the ICCFA, the FDMA
and the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.

Inconvenient truths about
funeral & cemetery marketing
Dan Katz

Katz will explore the seven key “inconvenient truths” that every funeral service
marketer needs to acknowledge, understand and embrace in order to overcome
the barriers of audience indifference, limited financial resources, changing markets, new
technologies and competitive pressures. Within the context of each of these inconvenient
truths, he will share specific strategies and tactics marketers can put to use that can have a
direct impact on the outcomes of their marketing efforts.
Katz is president and creative director of LA ads, a Los Angeles, California-based marketing agency
with more than 20 years of service to the funeral profession. Clients have included some of the
most notable names in the profession, from Stewart Enterprises to SCI properties to countless
independent funeral homes and cemeteries, and some of the industry’s leading suppliers. The
company’s “dare to be different” philosophy is well known throughout the industry.

How to become ‘mayor’
of your town without the politics
Eric Fithyan

Fithyan, the “mayor” of Wellsburg, West Virginia, will share the story of his
“political” campaign to make his historic funeral home the talk of the town. He
didn’t use signs, door-to-door talks or any of the other standard campaign tactics
to win over his community. He will share his winning guide to meet and greet the community,
distinguish yourself from the rest of the funeral homes in your area and influence your local
media to come to you for community interest stories.
Fithyan is a funeral director and owner of the Chambers and James Funeral Homes, Wellsburg,
West Virginia, which he purchased in 2011. He is an active community member, serving on many
boards of directors, but most of all is known as the veterans funeral director. Under his direction,
his funeral homes have been featured in the YB News, The Funeral Business Advisor and in a letter
of commendation from the West Virginia secretary of state. He is also a certified funeral celebrant,
certified networker and an ordained minister.

Growing your preneed business

Quinn Eagan

If you are interested in growing your market share and nurturing existing relationships with your families, join Eagan as he focuses on
the whys and hows of effective preneed marketing by sharing specific examples and success stories of how best to meet the needs
of families while simultaneously boosting profitability. At the end of the session, you will be able to identify and implement the right
preneed strategies for your business, grade your own level of preneed success and understand the value that lies in a good, effective
preneed program.
Eagan is president and founder of Preneed Funeral Programs, Metairie, Louisiana. With more than 30 years of experience in the funeral
industry, he has the experience and proficiency to guide funeral homes to new heights in market share, profitability and family loyalty.

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I C C F A 2 0 1 6 C O n v e n t io n & E x p o i n N e w O r l e a n s
Get the app!
If you haven’t downloaded the ICCFA app from the Google Play or Apple App store, do so now. A guide for the ICCFA Annual Convention
& Expo will be available in March. You’ll find session descriptions, speaker bios, a map of the expo, a list of all preregistrants to facilitate
networking before the event (following the early-bird cutoff ), the ability to create your personal schedule for the week and much more!
Also, join us for a webinar in late March that will show you how to make the most of this invaluable tool.

Five simple (and free!) ways to enhance your website

John Heald

Many activities that traditionally take place in a brick-and-mortar building now take place online. Your families are also looking online
for information about funeral services, and your website serves as your digital storefront. Are you placing enough emphasis on what
your website can do for your business? Using real examples, we’ll share five ways to enhance your existing website without spending
any money or changing website providers.
Heald is a fourth-generation funeral director licensed in Massachusetts for 18 years. He started his career as an apprentice at Eaton Funeral home in
Needham, Massachusetts. Since then, he has worked as a casket sales consultant and preneed insurance broker. He was one of the original members
of the team that in 2008 started, which last year was acquired by, where he remains as vice president of funeral home development.

Adapt or die: Technology trends disrupting consumer behavior

Joe Joachim

Whether you’re ready or not, 78 million people in the most powerful demographic are making their way into your client family base.
And with them, they bring nearly $3.2 trillion in annual spending power. Who are they? They’re the baby boomers, and their behavior is
rapidly changing, with digital activities growing rapidly in every sphere.
What does this mean to you? Your families expect an entirely different experience from your funeral business. And if your firm
doesn’t adapt to their changing needs, you’ll simply get left behind. For funeral professionals to adapt, it’s important to first identify
the behavioral trends that are gaining momentum in the industry. Joachim will present the technology trends that are disrupting
consumer behavior and how you can leverage them to attract and engage the families of today. By the end of this presentation, you’ll be able to cut
through the clutter, provide more value to today’s changing families and ultimately become more profitable.
Joachim is CEO and founder of funeralOne, Detroit, Michigan. He has spent the last decade researching the changing needs of today’s families so
that funeral professionals can better meet them. Called the “Walt Disney of Funerals” by Barbara Walters, his unconventional business approach has
been recognized by USA Today, Forbes, BusinessWeek and others.

Preplanning 2.0: How to use digital marketing to generate leads

Zach Garbow

As our communities’ demographics change, the approaches funeral homes and cemeteries use to reach these folks must evolve as
well. Over 70 percent of the U.S. is on Facebook and almost 70 percent of the country owns a smartphone. In order to grow your
preneed and business leads, you must reach these people where they spend the majority of their time: online.
Garbow will share proven techniques for funeral homes and cemeteries to reach their community using digital marketing. He’ll show
real examples of how you can generate leads using Facebook, email and your website. You will gain actionable knowledge to deploy a
digital marketing strategy that increases your bottom line and keeps you ahead of your competition.
Garbow is co-founder of Funeral Innovations, Louisville, Colorado, a technology firm specializing in digital marketing solutions for the funeral service
industry. He previously was a software engineer within IBM Research, where he had more than 100 patents pending.

Corporate partners include:
Sponsorships still available. For information, visit
American Memorial Life Insurance Co.
Assurant Life of Canada
Batesville Casket Co. Inc.
BIondand North America Inc.
Clearpoint Federal Bank & Trust
Cypress Lawn
Eagle’s Wing Air

Visit for a current list of sponsors

Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks
and Mortuaries

Live Oak Bank

Forethought Life Insurance Co.

Matthews International Corp.

Foundation Partners
Green Hills Memorial Park
Guerra & Gutierrez Mortuary
Hepburn Superior US Chemical
Independence Trust Co.
Inman Shipping
Johnson Consulting Group

Madelyn Co.
NGL Insurance Group
NOMIS Publications Inc.
NorthStar Memorial Group
Riviera Tailors LTD
Service Corporation International
Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum
StoneMor Partners LP
The Signature Group

Partners enable the ICCFA to offer excellent programming while keeping registration fees low.


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Green Services
The magic of Techni-ice and waxed paper: What funeral directors
need to know about green burial preparation Ed Bixby & Bob Fertig

Burial without embalming requires a whole new set of techniques for preparing bodies for visitation, transportation and interment that
you probably weren’t taught in mortuary school. Learn what noninvasive, biodegradable products and procedures will ensure that your
green burial families experience a seamless, environmentally responsible funeral. Reduce your own stress by knowing what to do to prevent
unwanted or disturbing events long before you pull up to the cemetery gates. Experienced funeral director Fertig and Steelmantown
cemetery operator Bixby will walk you through the steps, from receiving the body to closing the grave, to avoid show-stopping surprises.
Bixby is a Green Burial Council director (president), and is owner and operator of Steelmantown Green Burial Preserve, Steelmantown,
New Jersey. He has led presentations on natural burial for numerous organizations and has provided educational training for both funeral
directors and cemeterians alike.
Fertig is a Green Burial Council director and is owner and operator of Fertig Funeral Home, Mullica Hill, New Jersey. In 2008, Fertig began
offering green burial and home funerals in response to the burgeoning interest in green funerals. He and his wife Denise present informative
talks about green burial to community groups and healthcare professionals in their area.

When the body arrives in a Prius: What cemetery staff
need to know about green burial families Candace Currie & Lee Webster

With home funerals on the rise, cemetery operators are being faced with bodies prepared at home by family rather than professionals.
What safeguards do cemeteries need to put in place in order to ensure that families have prepared the body properly? How can
cemetery staff aid families who approach them about how to prepare, transport and bury their loved ones safely and without
unwanted surprises? First learn about how home funeral families prepare loved ones and what role a home funeral guide might play
in smoothing the process. Then hear how to develop and enforce green cemetery regulations and about conducting arrangement
conversations that will keep the family in charge and your cemetery off the front page.
Currie is a Green Burial Council director (secretary) and is director of planning and sustainability for Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge and
Watertown, Massachusetts. She also volunteers with Green Burial Massachusetts. She holds LEED Green Associate credentials and a master’s
degree in landscape design from the Conway School of Landscape Design of Western Massachusetts.
Webster is president of the National Home Funeral Alliance, a Green Burial Council director (treasurer) and director of New Hampshire Funeral
Resources, Education & Advocacy. She is a writer, researcher, editor, public speaker and has been a hospice worker for more than 30 years.

Green design & innovation: Restoration ecology in the hybrid cemetery
Deborah Cassidy, Cliff David & Adam A. Supplee, RLA, ASLA, AICP, LEED AP

On the outskirts of Philadelphia, overlooking the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, West Laurel Hill’s Nature’s Sanctuary exemplifies an innovative
new approach to hybrid cemeteries. While many hybrid cemeteries simply agree to allow vaultless burial areas in their conventional
lawn cemeteries, West Laurel Hill is actively employing conservation restoration principles to a previously disturbed site.
Through a strategy they call assisted ecological succession, cemetery staff envisions that with careful intervention the woodland will
slowly emerge from its current state as a beautiful wildflower meadow into a complex forest environment, with perpetual care carried
out by nature and its forest community of plants, trees and animals. Green design elements include reintroduction of native plants and
installation of honey beehives, a memorial wall and a walking trail constructed with locally sourced materials. Nature’s Sanctuary uses
goats twice a year for low-impact maintenance. Learn how you can do a little to accomplish a lot in your hybrid cemetery.
Cassidy is director of sales, marketing and family services at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. In her 14 years at historic
West Laurel Hill Cemetery and Bringhurst Funeral Home, she has played an instrumental role in the implementation of a variety of new
programs, projects and community relations efforts, keeping the area’s premier cemetery and funeral home at the forefront of the profession.
David is president and CEO of Conservation Economics and has built his career as an innovator, combining nonprofit mission with for-profit
financial incentives to transform land management through conservation as a senior leader of a regional land trust and other nonprofit and
for-profit organizations. He has been involved with the growth and development of West Laurel Hill Cemetery for more than 30 years.
Supplee earned his degree at Temple University’s School of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture and has more than 20 years of experience
in sustainable design and redevelopment projects, including developing new green cemeteries and improving existing ones. He is a partner
in KMS Design Group and is a licensed landscape architect in Pennsylvania, an American Planning Association certified planner (AICP) and a
LEED accredited professional.


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Providing for the next generation:
Succession planning & selling a business
in the pet loss industry

Educational track
Decorating your
funeral home
Leslie Reid

Let Reid, director of Pet
Pilgrimage Crematory and
Memorials and an interior
designer for 22 years, inspire you
to create warm, welcoming environments for
your pet families. She will introduce the proper
way to use color and how to select multipurpose furnishings and engaging artwork.
Your families/clients are going to be observing
your business as a whole. If the surroundings
aren’t comfortable or satisfying to the eye, you
are missing out on a big selling tool.
Reid is director of Pet Pilgrimage, a division of
Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, North
Carolina. A graduate of the University of Georgia,
she has a BFA in interior design and 22 years of
experience in both commercial and residential
design. She was co-owner of Renaissance
Interiors Inc. for 12 years, until joining Cavin-Cook
in 2012.


PLPA Reception

Thusday, April 14, 5-6 p.m.

Join pet loss professionals
from around the world as they
meet to kick off a week full of
festivities. Hors d’oeurves and
drinks will be served. Admission
is included with every full

Nicholas Padlo

Your pet loss business has grown over many years, as a result of love and hard work.
The purpose of this discussion is to help you prepare your company for the next generation.
Whether handing the business down to children, transitioning to employees or selling to an
outside buyer, there are many financial and operational steps necessary to position your business
properly, maximize your financial return and make the transition as smooth as possible.
If retirement or transition is five to 10 years away, it is time to start strategic exit planning.
Padlo is CEO of The Pet Loss Center, Dallas, Texas. He is an Army veteran, proven Dallas-Fort-Worth
area business leader and a committed pet parent. Prior to his current role, Padlo was the founder
of Graycourt Capital, a firm dedicated to entering the pet-care market, which he did successfully
through the purchase of The Pet Loss Center’s enterprises. Prior to Graycourt, he worked as a case
team leader for Bain & Co. in Dallas.

Growing revenue from past,
present & future consumers
Bob Jenkins

How can you re-connect with families who didn’t make an urn purchase? Does
your business offer sustainable solutions for private or communal cremations? Is
your cemetery a destination for burial as well as cremation? Jenkins will discuss
innovative ways to educate past, present and future consumers about products and services,
including sustainable options. He will share methods and concepts to help create a personal
“experience” and discuss how to make your cemetery a desirable destination.
Jenkins is co-founder and owner of Verde Products Inc., a company dedicated to the development of
sustainable burial and cremation alternatives. The company mission is to continue the cycle of life
while protecting, enhancing and preserving the earth. A graduate of Kentucky School of Mortuary
Science, during the past 10 years he has been very involved with the pet after-life-care profession.

2nd Annual
Pet Memorial Service

Friday, April 15, 8:40-8:50 a.m.

Join us as we honor service pets and
family pets of ICCFA members who
have died in the past year. Instructions
and a PDF form can be found at
Submission deadline is February 29.

Roundtable: Details of a pet loss business

Understand where we have been
to guide where we are going
Bill Remkus, CPLP

This session will begin with an explanation of how pet
cemeterians lost sight of their core values and entered
into pet disposal. As a result, veterinarians now control
the market. You will learn how we are changing our
profession and the veterinary community to meet the
needs of modern client families.

Coleen Ellis, CPLP, & Bill Remkus, CPLP

The details of operating a business can many times be overwhelming. With so many amazing pet loss operations in the country, there
are countless best practices worth sharing. In this session, attendees will see what pet loss colleagues nationwide are doing in areas
such as vehicles, effective interior/building set up, pet tracking, marketing and other elements that will get your creative business
juices flowing.
Ellis is managing partner and chief marketing officer at The Pet Loss Clinic, Dallas, Texas. In 2004, her experience following the death of her
dog Mico guided her in starting the nation’s first stand-alone pet-only funeral home. In 2009, she founded Two Hearts Pet Loss Center to guide
people who wish to provide meaningful pet death care services in their communities, as well to be an educational resource in the pet grief
Remkus is owner, Hinsdale Animal Cemetery & Crematory, Willowbrook, Illinois, and with Ellis is co-founder and co-chair of the Pet Loss
Professionals Alliance (PLPA). He was instrumental in the creation of Illinois’ Companion Animal Cremation Act. He is a third-generation
owner at the cemetery, with experience in the business since 1971. He has always been a passionate advocate of ethical after-death care for
pets, continuously striving to raise the level of integrity in the industry.

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I C C F A 2 0 1 6 C O n v e n t io n & E x p o i n N e w O r l e a n s
Registration Discount

Save $50 on your registration fees! Register by the early bird deadline of February 29.


Registration Form

Complete and either fax (703.391.8416), email ( or mail this form with
payment to ICCFA (address at the bottom of the page).
Pick up your badge at the Attendee Registration desk on site.

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First-Time Attendee
Spouse/Guest (4/13-16)**
Member Supplier
Non-member Supplier+
Cemetery Tour (4/16,
2-5 p.m.)
Educational Foundation
Reception (4/15, 6 p.m.)
State Assoc. Luncheon
(4/16, 1 p.m.)
Closing Reception/Dinner*
(4/16, 6 p.m.)

By 2/29/16

After 2/29/16
# of tickets

Amount Due

Is this your first time attending ICCFA Convention? ! Yes ! No
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Indicate if you are a: ! CCE ! CCrE ! CFuE ! CCFE
What is your position at your company?
! Owner ! Manager ! Staff
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decisions? ! Make recommendations ! Final authority ! None





! Check here if you have a disability or require assistance (please
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*A Closing Dinner ticket is included with each full registration you purchase,
including Spouse/Guest.



**A Spouse/Guest must be someone who does not work in the industry.
+ Pay the non-member rate and receive a year of ICCFA membership
complimentary (a $245 value).


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Registration and Optional Events Cancellation Policy: Cancellations must be received in writing via fax, email ( or mail to ICCFA no later than February 29,
2016, to receive a refund. Full registrations are subject to a $100 cancellation fee per registration. Optional events are subject to a $10 cancellation fee per ticket. No-shows
will not receive a refund.

Return form to: ICCFA Meetings Dept., 107 Carpenter Dr., Ste. 100, Sterling, VA 20164, or 703.391.8416. Questions? Call 1.800.645.7700.

ICCFA Magazine

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➤For continually updated meeting listings
and direct links to websites for professional
associations, go to; select
Find a Member, then Industry Associations.

➤E-mail calendar listings and additions
or corrections to Association Pipeline
to and

➤To see all industry conventions and
meetings for a particular month, go to; select Find a Member,
then Industry Calendar.

January 13-15: ICCFA Wide World of
Sales Conf., Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino,
Las Vegas, Nevada.
January 14-16: Utah Funeral Directors
Assn. Mid-Winter Mtg., Best Western Plus
Abbey Inn, Saint George.
January 15-17: Mid-Atlantic Monument
Builders Assn. Annual Convention Marriott
Waterfront, Baltimore, Maryland.
January 17-19: Alabama Funeral
Directors Assn. Mid-Winter Trade Show,
January 18: New Hampshire Funeral
Directors Assn. Annual Mtg., Church
Landing, Inns & Spa at Mill Falls, Meredith.
January 24-28: Georgia Funeral Directors
Assn. and Independent Funeral Directors
of Georgia Joing Funeral Service Expo,
February 1-3: South Carolina Funeral 


Go to
com and
Find a
to see a
calendar of

➤to page 114
Check the classified announcements at
To place a classified, contact Rick Platter,

3”, 4”, 5” X 5”
Andover Markert Company
634 Berkley Street
Berkley, MA 02779
TEL: (508) 822-3127
FAX: (508) 824-5895


Funeral director
for Carriage Services

Carriage Services is looking for
a funeral director in Lawton,
Are you interested in joining
a family-team with ownership
Would you like for your career
or vocation to be in the very
community which you live?
Are you tired of feeling as
though your value and service as
a funeral professional is being
Our directors become
family-team members in our
decentralized businesses that
are an important part within
the very communities in which
they reside. Directors work with
client families to ensure that
families are experiencing the

highest quality of service and
are receiving the highest value,
personal experience. We count
on our directors to exemplify our
core values, providing the most
professional and ethical service
Email marilyn.gonzales@ to apply.

Cemetery & preneed
receivables financing

We will lend your company
money on your receivables, or
we will buy your receivables if
you prefer. Either way, you retain
access to your customers. Fast
closings, with immediate funding
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Van Sciver at 508.428.3458, or
fax your request to 508.428.0607,
or contact us through our website

To advertise in ICCFA Magazine,
contact Rick Platter,
Start every day at the ICCFA Café at

January 2016


ad index
31 Abbott & Hast
71 American Cemetery/Mortuary
83 ASD—Answering Service for
89 Axis Corp.
97 Batesville Casket
13 Biondan North America Inc.
31 Blackstone Cemetery Development
35 Carriage Services Inc.
109 Carrier Mausoleums Construction
43 CemSites
75 Chapter Eternal Enterprises LLCt
69 Cherokee Casket
63 Clearpoint Federal Bank Trust
29 Coldspring
95 Continental Computer Corp.
81 Cooperative Funeral Fund
53 Cremation Association of North
73 Eagle Granite Co.
51 Eagle’s Wings Air
3 Eickhof Columbaria Inc.
49 Ensure-A-Seal
49 Flowers for Cemeteries
77 Franklin Wrap
65 Funeral Call Answering Service

99 Funeral Data Manager
116 Funeral Home Gifts
107 Great Western Insurance Co.
69 Hallmark Monogram Co.
79 Holland Supply
81 Holy Land Stone
7 Homesteaders Life Co.
17 Huntington Bank
73 Inman Shipping Worldwide
47 Johnson Consulting
53 Kryprotek
101 Live Oak Bank
51 Love Urns LLC
5 LP Bronze International
89 Madelyn Co.
9 Matthews International
105 Merendino Cemetery Care
65 Miles Supply Inc.
103 MKJ Marketing
57 National Guardian Life Insurance Co.
83 National Mortuary Shipping
61 Nomis Publications
25 NorthStar Memorial Group
31 Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell &

41 Paradise Pictures
59 Perfect Memorials
19 PlotBox
2 Pontem Software
15 Security National Life Insurance Co.
75 SEP Technologies
111 Southern Cemetery, Cremation &
Funeral Association
33 SRS Computing
45 Star Granite & Bronze
93 Starmark Funeral Products
4 StoneMor Partners
83 Supply Link
75 The Key Chain Urn Co.
27 The Tribute Companies
71 Timberland Urns
55 Trigard
25 Triple H Co.
39 Triple H Co.
85 U.S. Metalcraft
79 Vantage Products Corp.
87 Wilbert Funeral Services
83 WithumSmith + Brown
115 Worsham College
71 Xiamen Ever-Rising Stone Co.
49 Zontec Ozone

➤from page 113

Directors Assn. Mid-Winter Conf. & Expo,
February 3-4: CANA Cremation
Symposium, Tropicana Hotel, Las Vegas,
February 2-4: The Center for Loss & Life
Transition training for funeral directors,
“Opening your community’s eyes to why
we need funerals,” facilitated by Dr. Cx
Wolfelt, Scottsdale, Arizona.
February 19-11: West Virginia Funeral
Directors Assn. Mid-Winter Advocacy
Summit, Charleston.
February 12-14: Maryland State Funeral
Directors Assn. Mid-Winter Retreat, Clarion
Resort & Conf. Center, Ocean City.
February 13-20: FrontRunner & American
Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral
Service 7th Annual Funeral Business &
Technology Workshop Cruise, departing
from Miami, Florida. 1.866.748.3625;

ICCFA Magazine
February 24-25: International Conference
of Funeral Service Examining Boards
Annual Mtg., Hyatt Regency Newport
Beach, California. 479.442.7076;
February 26-28: Monument Builders
of North America Annual Convention,
Atlanta, Georgia.
February 29-March 2: MKJ Marketing
seminar, Top-Line Growth, The Westin
Riverfront Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek,
Colorado. 1.888.MKJ.1566
March 2-3: Illinois Cemetery & Funeral
Home Assn. 88th Semi-Annual Spring
Convention, Holiday Inn & Suites,
March 3-5: Casket & Funeral Supply Assn.
of America Winter Seminar, Ft. Myers,
March 11-13: (British) Society of Allied
& Independent Funeral Directors Annual
General Mtg., Glamorgan, UK.
March 17-19: California Assn. of
Public Ceme­teries Annual Convention,
Embassy Suites, Monterey Resorts.
March 21-23: MKJ Marketing seminar,
Top-Line Growth, Ritz-Carlton Resort,
Amelia Island, Florida. 1.888.MKJ.1566
March 23: Washington Cemetery,
Cremation & Funeral Assn. Spring College,
March 30-31: Utah Funeral Directors Assn.
Annual Convention, ErgerySolutons Arena,
Salt Lake City.
April 1-3: TANEXPO, Bologna, Italy.
April 13-16: ICCFA Annual Convention &
Expo, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
& Hilton New Orleans Riverside, New
Orleans, Louisiana.
April 13-16: Assn. for Death Education
& Counseling 38th Annual Conf., Hilton
Minneapolis, Minnesota. r

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