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Spring 2014 I

Bud Wieting & wife Barb

Order of the Golden Rule President 2014 - 2015


Conference Highlights Dog Therapy: Easing the Pain of Loss Where OGR Members Buy Caskets The Independent速 | Spring 2014


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Table of Contents 6

Inside OGR

Conference Highlights

OGR members take on Southern Charm in Charleston, SC

President’s Message


Immediate Past President


Bylaws Change



DOG Therapy: Easing the Pain of Loss

OGR member Debbie Fry tells readers how dogs can make everything better, even in a time of loss.


Online Casket Survey: The Results

Members illuminate their shopping habits.

Exemplary Service



Questioning Our Answers

Milestone Anniversaries



Young Professionals

By Denise Rodriquez, OGR Family Contact Coordinator

Karl E. Jennings examines the philosophical side of funeral service.

Newsworthy 24 In Memoriam 28

New Members 35

By Denise Rodriquez, OGR Family Contact Coordinator

Association staffer goes one-on-one with the next generation of OGR members.

CALENDAR [ April 24 ]

OF EVENTS [ May 13 ]

CE Webinar: Social Media: Grow, Engage & Convert Your Audience on Facebook

OGR Regional Workshop: St. Charles, Illinois

[ June 26 ] CE Webinar: Financial Forecast: Where’s Your Business Headed

[ July 8 ] OGR Regional Workshop: St. Catharines, ON

Register for all events online at The Independent® | Spring 2014


The Independent® is a benefit of membership in the International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR), a not-for-profit organization taxexempt under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, Federal ID No. 43-1828432. Published quarterly, The Independent® is mailed the first full week of each new quarter. Send address changes to OGR, Attn: Mailing List, 3520 Executive Center Dr., Suite 300, Austin, TX 78731. © 2011 International Order of the Golden Rule. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Non-member subscriptions (USD): One year: $40; two years: $60; single copy: $11.50. Founded in 1928, OGR is composed of independently owned and operated funeral homes located throughout North America and overseas. Editorial material and letters of opinion are invited. Published articles reflect the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the association. OGR reserves the right to edit all submitted materials and does not assume responsibility for unsolicited materials. For author guidelines, contact the editor, (800) 637-8030, or visit

BOAR D OF D IR EC TOR S President Wayne “Bud” Wieting

President-Elect William Brock, Jr. CFSP

Secretary-Treasurer Peter “Skip” Urban

Immediate Past President David Fry

Directors Charles Castiglia


Thomas L. Hemmerle

Access Financial Group............................. 23, 24

Adam Miles Martin

Chris Chigas, (800) 487-8220, ext. 8233

John Vincent Scalia STAFF

American Macular Degeneration Foundation ..................................................... 29 (413) 268-7660

Executive Director Mark Allen

Communications & Scott F. McClure Marketing Director Staff Diane Durbin

Bass-Mollett Publishers, Inc............................ 19 John C. Flowers, (618) 664-3141

Maureen Hayes

Connie Haymes Gael Murdoch

C& J Financial ................................................ 11

Denise Rodriguez

Jamie Meredith, (800) 785-0003

Michael Ryan

Jessica A. Smith Esther R. Teller

Funeral Service Credit Union ..........................19 Rebecca Dobey, (866) 701-3728

Mabrey Products ..............................................31 Douglas M. Tobey, (800) 942-3779

Meadow Hill Corporation................................15 Bob Vokum, (847) 381-9000

Pierce Chemical............................................... 36 Lance Ray, (800) 527-6419

The Judith Roth Collection................................2 (800) 413-4455

4 | The Independent®

Design & Layout Scott F. McClure Advertising is accepted at the discretion of the publisher. The advertisement of any product or service in The Independent® does not represent an endorsement of such product or service by OGR. Classified Advertising: line ads: $1.10 per word; display classified ads: $30 per col. inch. Call the communications department to reserve space or to request a rate card and mechanical specifications. OGR does not accept ads that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age, gender, disability or any other federally protected class.

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The Independent® |

Spring 2014 | Volume 17 | Issue 2

President’s Message



he old saying that “Two heads are better than one” is true. When more than one individual looks at a task, more ideas to solve that task are born. When more ideas are born, that task can be accomplished with a much better outcome. We all owe the families we serve the best outcome. You may ask, “How can I serve others better?” We do this by improving our skills and improving the ‘tools’ in our ‘toolbox’. As you read this brief article, the annual conference has taken place and the business of OGR begins anew. For those of you who attended the annual conference, you know that my challenge to the committees and board chairs is to discover concepts that will add value to your membership in OGR. They will need your involvement to accomplish this task. By being an OGR member, we have all pledged to serve our families by the “Golden Rule”. This golden rule is found in the Bible, in the book of Matthew. Jesus is speaking and he says, “So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” As funeral directors, we endeavor to serve our families in the highest and most dignified manner. We have been called to serve broken and grieving families. We help them place their feet on the road to recovery, to heal from the pain and devastation of losing someone they love. It is often a daunting task, but you and I are the people that families lean on in these times of grief. The families we serve have placed their trust in us to help them. It is our sacred duty and responsibility as professionals to do that with all the tools and skills at our disposal. We realize that it would be foolish for a soldier to go into battle unarmed. We realize that it would be foolish for workmen to show up for their job without tools needed to do their work properly. So it is with us. We need the proper skills, training, and tools to serve the families that have come to us.

Occasionally this may be difficult, but through education and association with others, we can add ‘tools’ to our ‘toolbox’. Speak with your staff members, get their ideas, and implement the good ones. Associate with other professionals, and you can adopt their ideas and practices to better serve your families. Educate yourself with new ideas and ways to accomplish the goal of serving your families as you would want to be served. If we realize it or not, we go through life constantly asking ourselves the question, “what’s in it for me?” We should, however, take a step back and ask the ethical question of ourselves, “What’s in it for others? What’s in it for the families we serve?” When we ask ourselves the question, ‘What’s in it for others?’ we realize the truth of the golden rule. There is value for us when we serve others as we would want to be served. A good friend and OGR member, Ed Pearce, said, “I have always gone home from every OGR conference with at least one idea that I can use to better serve my families.” At the end of the day, this is why we belong to this association. OGR is an association of family owned businesses and funeral professionals who have pledged to serve families by the “Golden Rule”. We all desire to act with a servant’s heart. We serve those who have called on us to help with a task that is overwhelming for them. In that same spirit of serving, the OGR board, our executive director Mark Allen, the entire OGR staff, the regional chairs, and the committees want to ask the question: “What can OGR do for you?” Our desire is to meet your needs, serve you well, serve you with dignity, and in the end, add value to your membership. It is our desire to have you serve your families and communities likewise. May God bless you all, and your mission of serving others in need. Thanks.

Bud Wieting, President The Independent® | Spring 2014


55 march 27-29 | charleston, sc

Southern Hospitality Welcomes Our Members C

harleston, South Carolina, also known as the “Holy City”, played host to OGR’s 55th Annual Conference & Supplier Showcase. The conference took place in the heart of downtown Charleston, giving attendees the opportunity to explore the city when they weren’t in session. With a focus on building better relationships in their communities, this year’s conference provided attendees with opportunities for networking with industry suppliers, a florist, a mortuary science professor, and consumer anthropologists. The Supplier Showcase was held next door to the general session for the second year running, allowing attendees to browse products and services and conduct business with the exhibitors. Attendees picked up information and tips relating to their profession throughout the conference. Keynote speakers Kizer and Bender gave practical tips on how to update the selection room to meet families’ everevolving needs, resulting in rave reviews for their session. Jake Johnson of Johnson Consulting gave a detailed breakdown on how to evaluate a business for selling or buying, while licensed florist Waneita Bovan shared ways to improve the florist/funeral director relationship and how to handle those pesky 1-800 flower boxes. Valet services and a wine hour during visitation were a few of the ideas Carolyn Thompson of the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science offered 6 | The Independent®

in her session on concierge services. Thompson, a former event planner, brainstormed with attendees on additional services they can offer to families. The educational sessions ended with a lively session by songwriter and radio host Patrick Henry on building customer loyalty. In addition to the Awards Luncheon, where OGR members were recognized for their accomplishments, and the Scholarship Auction, the most raved about event was the Annual Banquet & Board Installation, turned Roaring 20’s Casino Night. OGR members dressed in their best 20’s attire and enjoyed a decadent dinner in one of the hotel’s historic ballrooms. The evening included a 4-piece Charleston swing band, dance instructors, five casino tables, and a golden photo booth. Prizes were given to the best dressed and the biggest winner at the tables. The casino night was so popular that the casino tables and band stayed an additional hour, and OGR members requested that 2015’s Annual Banquet include another casino night. Visit to view pictures from this year’s conference or for recorded presentations and conference materials.

Wayne “Bud” Wieting Installed as President

Daniel Wieting inducts his father, Wayne “Bud” Wieting as 2014-2015 OGR President


ayne S. “Bud” Wieting has been a licensed funeral director & embalmer in the state of Wisconsin since 1975, and also holds the National Funeral Directors license. Bud and his wife Barbara have been married since 1978. Together they have 3 daughters and a son. He has lived in Chilton since 1976, holding memberships in the National Funeral Directors Association, the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association, the Fox River Valley Funeral Directors Association, Lakeshore Funeral Directors Association, and The International Order Of The Golden Rule.

Bud and his wife Barb are active members of Peace Evangelical & Reformed Church in Potter, WI where he serves on the Pastor Parish Committee, the Building and Grounds Committee, the Gospelfest Committee, and the Leadership Vision Team. Bud has served on the Board of Directors for Calumet Medical Center in Chilton since 1999, and is currently serving on the Finance Committee, the Steering Committee, and serves as the board chair. Bud is a member of the Chilton & the Kiel Chambers of Commerce, and the Kiel Kiwanis Club, where he is currently president. He has been active in the local Boy Scout Troop 810 since 1988, serving on the Scout Committee, and as Cub Scout, Weblos, and Boy Scout leader. Bud enjoys camping, hunting, restoring old cars, fixing cars, gunsmithing and being an amateur arborist. He and his wife have been active in the Chilton business community, and Bud is a former member of the Chilton Fire Department, serving as Head Fire Inspector for the Chilton Fire District. He was a member and also served on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Fire Inspectors Association.

OGR 2014-2015 Board of Directors Back row from left: Charles A. Castiglia, Adam Miles Martin, President-Elect Bill Brock, President Bud Wieting, Thomas Hemmerle; Forward: Skip Urban, Immediate Past President David Fry, John Vincent Scalia

The Independent® | Spring 2014


GOLDEN RULE Community Service Award

Peter Kulbacki is presented the Community Service Award by Bud Wieting & David Fry


runswick Memorial Home takes great pride in honoring our service members and each year they actively seek ways to show their appreciation to the men and women who so proudly served and continue to serve this great nation. When looking for a Veteran’s Group that they could be of service to last fall, it came to their attention to visit the State of New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park in Edison, NJ. One of the owners, Diane Kulbacki and a staff member from Brunswick Memorial Home, Janice Grosholz, visited the veteran’s home and inquired about the needs of the home and its veterans. When they met with the Directors of Recreation, they toured the 332 bed facility and were given a firsthand look at the long term nursing care facility and its history. They decided to hold a “Couples Luncheon” for the residents and their life partners. They liked to think of it as a “Prom” for the residents. They wanted the prom to be a special event not only for the service members who resided at the facility, but also for their significant others. While some of the couples both reside in the facility, most times one of the couple lives apart from their significant other and this was an opportunity to provide support to the care-giver as well as to the resident. 8 | The Independent®

They planned a sit-down catered meal, a decorated dining room to resemble a dance hall, corsages for the ladies, live music to dance to, “champagne” to toast the event, and a photographer to capture the couples as they entered the ballroom. When the word spread to the funeral home staff about the project, the outpouring of support from the staff was overwhelming! Fourteen members of Brunswick staff and their families made time to volunteer the day of the event. The Brunswick Memorial Home staff decorated the dining room, flowers adorned each table, the catered lunch filled the room with delicious aromas, and couples lined up to enter the room. It was a special opportunity for them to “dress up” and it was a joy to see the men and women looking forward to having a good time. As each couple entered the room, a professional photographer took their picture, and the emotion of the event was evident on all of their faces. They were then escorted to their table by one of the volunteers. All the while the music played and the singer serenaded the couples at each table. After serving the guests lunch, the staff guided some of the residents out onto the dance floor, while those that were unable to dance enjoyed the music and singing from their tables. The atmosphere was profound and one only had to look on the faces of not only the residents and their spouses, but also the staff members from Brunswick Memorial Home to see the emotional impact of the event. These were service men and women who served to protect our freedom and it was an honor for Brunswick to serve them. As the event came to a close, they had one last gift for the guests: during the event, they had the photographs that were taken as each couple entered developed, and each couple was given a framed copy of the photograph, a small token of appreciation for all that they’ve sacrificed.


Incoming President Bud Wieting presents Randall Earl with the 20104 Golden Light Award

Union. He has testified on behalf of the funeral profession before federal legislative and regulatory bodies including the U.S. Senate for ergonomics compliance, at the Federal Trade Commission regarding revisions to the Funeral Rule, and before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection to advocate The Bereaved Consumer’s Bill of Rights Act. As devoted as Randy is to funeral service, he also recognizes the importance of worthy causes in his community and beyond. He has a steadfast dedication to the American Cancer Society and served as its Chairman of the Illinois Division. In 2008, Randy received the St. George Medal of Honor, the highest award presented to a volunteer by the American Cancer Society.


he International Order of the Golden Rule is proud to announce Randall L. Earl of Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Home in Decatur, Illinois, as the recipient of the 2014 Golden Light Award. This prestigious award is the association’s highest honor, and it recognizes an individual who has made specific, meritorious contributions to society through his or her profession, community or field of voluntary service as career achievements. Randy has been a licensed funeral director for more than 40 years, all 40 of which he has devoted to advancing the standards of the funeral profession at both the state and national levels. Randy has served as President of the International Order of the Golden Rule, the Illinois Funeral Directors Association, and the National Funeral Directors Association. He was Board Chair of the Museum of Funeral Customs and the Funeral Service Credit

In recognition of his many actions to elevate funeral service and sustain charitable organizations that enrich people’s lives, while also providing compassionate care to those who have turned to him in times of grief and despair, OGR was pleased to present Randall with OGR’s most prestigious honor, the 2014 Golden Light Award!

The Independent® | Spring 2014


EXEMPLARY Service Awards Cooper Funeral Home | Tecumseh, OK “We had scheduled our mom’s funeral with Cooper’s and then my father passed away the J. Cooper receives the Exemplary morning of her funeral. Service Award My sister and I were stressed out and heartbroken. We wanted to have a military funeral for both our father and mother, but we couldn’t have one for her, so we were upset. Cooper’s told us not to fret and they would take care of things. Cooper set out all the things we had brought and mom’s life was there for everyone to see. After a short service, my family hummed “Taps” for my mom. It was beautiful. For our father’s funeral, Cooper’s made sure the VFW and dad’s casket were draped with the flag. There was a 6 gun salute for dad. The serviceman folded, creased and presented the flag to me. Then unexpectedly, they had mom’s flag and creased it and presented it to my sister. We cried tears of joy. No one else we have spoken with that used other funeral homes has been given this kind of service.”

Freitag Funeral Home|Bridgeton, NJ “When my mother passed away last year, we were initially contacted by a funeral director at Freitag who met with us regarding Mom’s pre-arrangements in a most compassionate and accommodating manner. Ken Freitag (owner/manager), who had been away, came directly from the airport to offer his condolences and support to our family. The services were first class. In particular, their preparation of Mom’s appearance, their attention to detail concerning the prayer cards, the video tribute, transportation, and the personal attention that was given to our family. Linnemann Funeral Homes|Mt. Erlanger, KY “While we were in the hospital with our stillborn, we had no idea what to do. A family member called Linnemann Funeral Home, and they gave us the funeral director’s personal cell phone number. She was amazing and always available when we needed her. During our initial meeting, we were introduced to the entire staff. Everybody was supportive, caring and very helpful. During such a difficult time, everyone was willing to help. Our son August passed on a Thursday, and we didn’t bury him until 9 days later. They were so respectful of giving us time. Also, they gave great ideas and even lent us their own book to make the ceremony more “ours.” During 9 months of pregnancy, we prepared for everything except death. The Linnemann family graciously paid for our baby’s casket and took such great care of us.



he association was very excited to present two scholarship awards this year through OGR’s Awards of Excellence Scholarship Program, which provides assistance to students about to graduate from mortuary school and enter the funeral profession. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited mortuary degree program, scheduled to graduate in the current calendar year, and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The 2014 Gold Award of Excellence was awarded to Ashley Baldauf-Kreil. Ashley attends Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science and will receive a $3,500 scholarship to help complete her studies. Ashley was honored to be able to attend the conference and receive her award in the company of her peers.

The 2014 Silver Award of Excellence was awarded to Jorida Mihali-Allison. Jorida attends Wayne St. University and will receive a $2,000 scholarship to help complete her studies. “I would like to sincerely thank the OGR staff and scholarship committee for awarding me the Silver Award of Excellence. It is such an honor to be recognized for this award.”

It Was Quite the

John and Barbara Wenig are dressed to the nines


Roger ‘Big Daddy’ Beyers, Bill “the Brain’ Brock, Robin ‘Sluggo’ Williams and Skip ‘Machine Gun’ Urban

Mike and Marie Butler grab the spotlight

Annual Banquet & Roaring 20’s Casino Night

Preston Rader, Cathie Tattrie, Charles Castiglia and Mike Kulbacki take on Craps

Michael & Nicolle Canapp watch as dancers cut a rug

Thank You Sponsors!

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Your first call when you need a helping hand. Do you feel that there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done? Well, help has arrived! Ask the OGR Concierge. Whether you need assistance finding a unique product, gathering information for price comparisons or coming up with the right service provider, simply ask the OGR Concierge. With member concierge services we can offer you problem-solving and time-saving solutions. Access this Exclusive Member service by calling Maureen Hayes at 800-637-8030. “With over 18 years of experience working directly with members and industry suppliers, I am always here and happy to help.” Maureen Hayes, Member Concierge 12 | The Independent®



GR’s Marketing & Communications Director, Scott McClure, recently sent me an e-mail reminding me that I needed to write my last letter as your president and as he kindly phrased it, “out with the old and in with the new”. As every president before me has done, I leave with a very high sense of gratitude of serving you. I can honestly tell you that your Board of Directors has left this organization in great shape financially. We set goals and budgets and monitored them as time went along. Your Board of Directors will lead this organization in a manner that we will all be proud of.

not focusing on those who have lost a loved one. I can also say that I don’t believe there are any ego trips by those who are currently serving on your Board. If we honestly and sincerely take care of those good family members then those same families will return generation after generation to take care of us. My challenge for those of you who do not attend our conferences is to ‘come, taste and see’ either the Annual Conference or the Fall Forum. I know that time is a very valuable commodity for you, and for many of you who are single operators, I also know how difficult it is to find the staff to cover and fill your shoes while you are attending an OGR function. The opportunities for you to reconnect and plug in with colleagues make this all worthwhile to attend an OGR conference.

This has been my second time to serve on your Board of Directors. When I was asked to come back on the Board to fill a vacancy, I knew the time commitment could be demandSo you also, when you ing. Mark Allen returned as our Executive Director and those of us who Are you using your purchasing power have done everything knew Mark breathed a collective sigh through OGR’s Golden Services that you were told to of relief because we knew his manageGroup to better enhance your bottom ment style and how he would manline? Because of the buying power of do, should say, ‘We age our association. Thus, here are OGR, I was personally able to obtain a are unworthy sermy thoughts for you, the members of better discount on caskets, fluids and OGR, on how you can be a better fuother professional services that I could vants; we have only neral director or owner and ultimately have ever gotten on my own. My done our duty’. provide better service to those families OGR dues are literally nothing due to Mark 17:10 you serve on the very worst days of the savings I receive through Products their lives when a death has forever and Services. changed their lives. I want to leave you with a scripture that I read just Training and Education: OGR truly provides some prior to writing this final letter. This comes from of the best training and motivational speakers that Mark 17:10, “So you also, when you have done evmoney can buy. The part that I always cherish is when erything that you were told to do, should say, ‘We are we get together at our conferences and the sharunworthy servants; we have only done our duty’.” And ing that takes place member to member. You simply so it is with each of us; we are unworthy servants who cannot get this gut level insight any other way. You have only done our duty. Thank you for the honor of need to leave your business occasionally to refresh and serving you this past year. recharge and learn from others. Blessings & Peace, The other thing that I have learned over the years is to keep the focus on the families we serve. It sounds rather elementary, but I am still amazed at some who think that funeral service is all about themselves and

David M. Fry, Immediate Past President The Independent® | Spring 2014 13

DOG THERAPY: easing the pain of los By: Denise Rodriquez, OGR Family Contact Coordinator


hen a loved one passes away, the mood is always tense and full of unrelenting grief. Part of the duties of a funeral home staff is to help alleviate some of the grief that their client-families are experiencing by making the funeral process effortless and comforting. As a result, funeral homes are always looking for more effective ways to console their client-families. Longtime OGR member, Debra Fry, is no different. She and her husband, David Fry, have owned and operated Fry Funeral Home in Tipton, IA for several years. Debra’s role at Fry Funeral Home consists of assisting with funerals and helping families personalize their funeral service experience through details like memory videos, service folders, music, etc. This requires a large amount of one-on-one contact with client-families, which has inspired Debra to discover a new way to bring more comfort to families when they need it most: a grief therapy dog named Gurt. Acquiring a grief therapy dog has been a long time goal for Debra. She comments, “This is something I

14 | The Independent®

have wanted for 10 years. At first, I wasn’t sure because we come from such a small community; it is fairly traditional and I didn’t know how they would react to having a dog in the funeral home.” After some time, Debra began testing the waters by taking her dogs out into the community to nursing homes and public events. After gaining some confidence through these outings, she eventually imported a 9-week-old Bernese Mountain dog from Poland who passed the temperament tests required for a potential therapy dog. She comments, “You need the right temperament for a grief therapy dog. There may be only one or two in a litter that are born with the temperament required for this kind of work.” The now 10-month-old female pup spends her time “working” at Fry Funeral Home and is, at times, their most popular “employee.” Debra elaborates, “I have never had a complaint about Gurt. In fact, she has received gifts and thank you’s from people in the past.” On a typical day, Gurt is in Debra’s office sitting at her side. Debra says it is important to note that “Gurt is always on a leash and always with me. I don’t force

OGR-Spring2014_Layout 1 3/11/14 4:30 PM Page 1

anyone to interact with her, most people just do. It usually happens that David is in conference with a family and I walk by with Gurt or they walk by my office and see Gurt, and we usually get some kind of welcoming response where they ask to see her. If we don’t get a response, then we just keep going about our business. “ Luckily, the response to Gurt has been overwhelmingly welcoming. Gurt has even been spotlighted by Cedar Rapids Channel 2 News, KGAN, which recently broadcast a story about her. This response has motivated Debra and her friend, Steph Oswald, to partner up and create Compassionate Paws Grief Therapy. “As long as I can remember, I have always believed that dogs make everything better and today it seems like dogs are everywhere. They are in Hospice, in the police department, in nursing homes, in hospitals, in schools; they even took dogs to Sandy Hook to help with the children. Dogs make a huge difference with children. They remove a lot of fear from the atmosphere so it makes sense to me to have them in funeral homes as well.” Together, Debra and Steph are venturing into breeding Bernese Mountain dogs for grief therapy, which are proven to be an effective breed. Steph is employed in a veterinary clinic and takes care of the health clearances, temperament testing, and some of the training for the dogs while Debra handles the presentations and funeral home connection. In the future, they are hoping to get more chances to present at funeral home conferences and conventions about the benefits of having grief therapy dogs in the funeral home service industry. j

“Gurt” sits with Debra Fry

“Packer” poses with Steph Oswald

Touch a Thumbie. Perhaps it is the print of Mom or Dad; maybe it’s Grandma’s or Grandpa’s. It could be your child’s footprint or the print of your sibling or best friend. The uniqueness of our prints makes them icons of our identity. That’s why Meadow Hill “casts” Thumbies—so that the depth and breadth of each ridge can be felt. That touch sparks connections that bring us together and forever warm the heart. Choose Thumbies. 877.848.6243

The Independent® | Spring 2014 15

online survey: Where do you purchase your caskets?


ecently, OGR invited its membership to participate in an online

Casket Survey to help us understand the best path forward to improve the current discount casket program. A total of 86 members took part in an online survey and the results have been tabulated.

When asked from which of the following companies do they purchase caskets, respondents were:

It’s clear that a far higher-than-average percentage of OGR members purchase from Aurora Casket Company which is counter to the market share. The information may show a shift based on OGR’s long-standing casket program with Aurora. In May 2013, Matthews International joined OGR’s member casket discount program.

60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

16 | The Independent®




(Incl. York & Milso)

When asked if they purchase caskets made by any small to midsize casket manufacturers, respondents were split 50/50.


When asked from which distributors they purchase, respondents were: Companies with more than one response have a number in parenthesis after their name. • • • • • • • • • • • • •

• •

Havenline (3) Apex Artco Astral (4) Cardinal Casket (2) Cherokee (2) Conneticutt Casket-manufacturer of all wood casket Criswell Casket (3) CVI Funeral Supply (2) – formerly known as Doric Concrete Vaults Gaede Casket (Indianapolis Jobber)amount purchased 2% Genesis, Ver Plank and Watts line of hardwoods Hoffman Burial Supplies (2) 4 hardwood caskets made by the Amish, distributed by a small company in Murfreesboro, TN; Tennessee Chair Manger Casket Company Master Grave Service

• • • • • • • • • •

• • • • • •

McCord Mid-South Bowling Green Northwestern casket company Omega Casket Paragon, C.J. Boots-almost 80% of our purchases Pontotoc Box Rather not say Schuylkill Haven Several SI Funeral Services (formerly known as Oregon Wilbert Vault, this company was purchased by Suhor Industries) Solomon Casket StarMark Superior Casket in Detroit Thacker Casket (2) Turner Vault, Toledo, Ohio Vintage casket vendor of Amish made caskets The Independent® | Spring 2014 17

When asked which brand of casket they purchase from small to midsize casket manufacturers, respondents were: Companies with more than 1 response have a number in parenthesis after their name. • • • • • • • •

Astral (8) Sauder CJ Boots Custom Haven Line Hoffman In the past I used Media Casket SI Funeral Services (2) - formerly known as Oregon Wilbert Vault, this company was purchased by Suhor Industries • Milso, New England, Missouri Hardwoods, and several other smaller companies

• None • Omega (they have their own catalog of caskets) • Rather not say • Several small casket manufacturers • Signet, Paul • Genesis (2) • StarMark • Thacker (2) • Watts

The results show several companies sold exclusively through jobbers are supplying their product lines to funeral homes direct, such as Astral Industries, C.J. Boots Casket Company and New England Casket.

When asked about how likely they were to purchase caskets from these small to midsize casket manufacturers if OGR offered a discount larger than you can get on their own, respondents were:

5.8% 20.9%







The majority of survey responses show a larger discount probably would not affect purchases from small to midsize casket manufacturers. However, the survey data will be helpful in discussions with small to midsize casket companies who might be interested in working with OGR in the future. We will keep you informed about changes to the overall discount casket program as they develop. If you have any questions about the casket poll, contact Connie Haymes, OGR’s Golden Services Group Director at 800-637-8030 or by email at 18 | The Independent®


“C&J has worked extremely well for our firms and we highly recommend C&J to any funeral home looking to lower receivables and eliminate the hassle with insurance companies.” Jeffrey S. Wages, President Wages & Sons Funeral Homes Past President of OGR

Funeral Service Credit Union is a state-chartered credit union, owned by our members, established in 1983 that provides financial services specifically for funeral service professionals, their employees and family members. Membership is currently available to all members, employees and family members of IFDA (IL), Funeral Ethics Assoc., Funeral Arrangers Assoc., NFDA, TFDA (TX), FFDA, OGR, MFDEA (MO), IFDF (FL), NFDMA, VFDA (VA), IFHV, ICCFA, WFDA (WI) and Professional Funeral Alliance, Inc. Loans offered to our members include: Professional Auto Personal Auto Unsecured Visa Credit Cards

Share Secured Boats/RV’s/Motorcycles

Deposit accounts offered to our members include: Share Savings Share Draft (Checking) CD’s Christmas Club

ATM/Debit card (checking only) Vacation Club

Other services offered include: FSCU Online Loan Protection Ins Payroll Deduction ACH (electronic funds)

Direct Deposit PeeWee Club

Please visit our website for our current Loan & Savings Rates

The Independent® | Spring 2014 19

g n i n o i t s Que Our s r e w Ans

arl K : By


s ing n n e E. J

s it time to Question your Answers? Does a great question have more value than a great answer? Today, we have at our fingertips more answers to more questions than at any time in human history. If you want to know something, just "Google it" or speak into your cellphone and Siri will find it for you. Take a moment to Google “Why should I have a funeral?” and see what you can learn.

This reality is a clear reflection of a business that no longer knows why it exists.

Over the past five years I’ve spoken with funeral directors across the country and, literally, around the world. I often ask them the question, “Why should I have a funeral?” The common response is to pause nervously and then offer one of an incredible variety of answers.

Without a clear purpose, we can struggle to appropriately allocate our time, talent and resources. Without clear direction, we begin to react, defend, preserve and protect our interests...just like a turtle that, when threatened, withdraws into the confines of their shell.

I eventually came to the realization that if I asked 100 funeral directors why I should have a funeral, I would likely get 98 different answers. If you doubt this, ask the people who work with you at your funeral home. You will probably find that your results mirror mine. 20 | The Independent®

A good friend and colleague of mine once said that the modern funeral director is having an existential crisis. He said “They don’t know it, but they really need to ask themselves two questions, 'Who am I?' and 'Why am I here?'”

This is where I found myself in May of 2000, after spending nearly 20 years in the funeral profession. My partner and I had just acquired our second funeral home and we were excited to be given the opportunity

to serve a new community. As fate would have it, the first four families who met with me for arrangements chose direct cremation. Discouraged and frustrated because I didn’t get the opportunity to help them, I felt a growing sense of despair about the future of our profession and my inability to help people make good decisions at the time of loss. The sense of despair didn’t actually originate with my experience with these four families, but it was definitely amplified by the whole experience. I suspect that you’ve had similar experiences within your communities. Although that was only 14 years ago, it feels at times like a lifetime has passed. The discoveries we have made and the answers we have found over those 14 years have transformed virtually every area of our business life. We didn’t find these answers in our industry's trade journals or at conventions. We found them by being brutally honest with ourselves when answering these three questions. 1. What is your mission? 2. Who is your customer? 3. What does your customer value?

My mom used to say, “When you lose something, go back to the beginning and retrace your steps.” That was great advice. We retraced our professional steps to see where we had lost ourselves and lost the potential for our business to positively impact and care for families suffering an acute loss. We were surprised by what we found. Not only did we discover how to reframe and revision our business in a way that has made it both more profitable and more relevant for our families, but, in the process, we found ourselves. We found professional relevance, vitality and a reawakening of joy that comes with being able to authentically guide families through the Acute Loss Period. Instead of providing endless options to suffering families who really don't know what they need or even what they should do, we found the solution that can help our families and their friends begin healing. The solution is your key to the future. To learn more, join us at the next OGR Regional Workshop.j Karl E. Jennings, CEO of the Arrangers Academy, Borek Jennings Funeral homes and Author of “When We Must Say Farewell”

Great Lakes West Regional Workshop Tuesday, May 13, 2014 “A Lifeline for Funerals: Attracting Families That Are Slipping Away” Alan Creedy & Karl Jennings - The 2020 Project Hotel Baker, 100 W. Main St., St. Charles, IL 60174 (630) 584-2100 Regional Workshop Tuesday, July 8, 2014 “Steering Funeral Homes toward a Profitable Future” Chris Kuhnen, Funeral Profit Protectors Hosted by: George Darte 585 Carlton St., St. Catharines, ON L2M 4Y1, Canada (905) 937-4444 For more information, contact Jessica Smith @ or (800) 637-8030.

The Independent® | Spring 2014 21

To request a sample or place an order, contact OGR’s Member Concierge, Maureen Hayes at (800) 637-8030 22 | The IndependentŽ



embers approved a Bylaws change recommended by the Board of Directors that will give it the authority to deny membership to any funeral home owned by a private equity corporation. Board members believe OGR membership should be limited to independent ownership just as it did in the mid-1980s when funeral homes owned by publiclytraded corporations were deemed no longer eligible for membership. The eligibility section now reads as follows: 3.2 Eligibility 3.2.1 Regular, Affiliate and International Memberships. In order to be considered for membership in OGR, a firm shall have been in business for a period of not less than two (2) years. In the best interest of the provision of a quality service by members of OGR to the public we serve, the Board of Directors may, with the approval of two-thirds of those Board members present and voting, suspend the two-year requirement. Membership in OGR shall generally be limited to entities which are independently owned. Entities that may be excluded from membership in OGR, at the sole discretion of the OGR Board of Directors, include: • Entities that are publicly held (i.e., firms in which interests are traded on an established securities market) or whose management or control is in or by such publicly held entities, or persons affiliated with such entities. • Entities in which management control is held by a private equity firm or firms (i.e., firms which, through their own capital or capital raised from investors, invests in companies not publicly held). Several housekeeping items were approved as well, including changing the term “Foreign Member” to “International Member” and “Adjunct Member” to “Supplier Member.” Visit OGR Revised Bylaws to see the complete and current Bylaws. The Independent® | Spring 2014 23

Customers voted Pollock-Randall #1

BEST BEST of the


John & Ann Kendrick of Pollock-Randall Funeral Homes, Inc. were recognized for achieving “Best of the Best” rankings based on customer service surveys administered by The Funeral Service Research Group. The Pollock-Randall group is in the category with the most members, firms serving 500-1000 families per year. “ We encourage families to be very honest in evaluating us, not just telling us what’s right but where we need to improve as well”, said Ann Randall Kendrick. “Our staff is exceptional, come from diverse professional backgrounds and truly enjoy the challenge of trying to exceed expectations for every family we serve.”

Ann and John Kendrick with Scott Newton, co-founder and president of Graystone Associates, Inc., at the national summit in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Koven Brown is not only a funeral home owner and past president of OGR, but is also a member of the Alabama Legislature. He recently introduced HB 87 that would strengthen the State Commission of Insurances’ ability to monitor funeral and cemetery preneed sales, set clear guidelines and hold sellers accountable for violations. Rep. Brown is a member of the Insurance Committee and Economic Development and Tourism Committee, and serves as Vice Chair of the Children and Senior Advocacy Committee.

Wages Debuts Responsive Design Website

24 | The Independent®

Funeral Director/ Advocate/Politician

OGR member, Koven Brown of K. L. Brown Funeral Home & Cremation Center Jacksonville, Alabama speaks before the Alabama Legislature.

Wages and Sons Funeral Home and Crematory, announced the launch of their new website which has been rebuilt with a responsive design to provide better service to families no matter what kind of device they visit on. The rising prevalence of mobile phones and tablet devices has meant, until now, every user was having a different experience depending on screen size. Jeffrey Wages, owner of Wages and Sons Funeral Home and Crematory agrees. “Responsive design makes a website “device friendly” by eliminating the need for pinching and spreading a small screen to see content. To solve this in the past we used to maintain a five page standalone mini mobile site. Now we have one site to edit and all of our information is always available to families who need it. We are one of the first funeral homes in the country to use this technology in a custom designed site.

Thank You Auction Donors The following companies donated items or contributed money to the Awards of Excellence Scholarship Auction: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Anton B. Urban Funeral Home Aurora Casket Company Auc The Davis Whitehall Company t Rais ion Federated Insurance $6,7 es Fry Funeral Home 50! Funeral Home Gifts Maureen Hayes, OGR Hought Wahl-Woodturner John Vincent Scalia Home for Funerals The Judith Roth Collection Martin Funeral Home, Cremation & Tribute Services Meadow Hill Corporation (monetary donor) Michelle E. Wade (monetary donor) Pearce Funeral Services SinoSource International Slack Funeral Home Vander Plaat Funeral Home of Wyckoff Vision Medical Wages & Sons Funeral Home

Thank You Auction Bidders OGR also appreciates the following people who successfully bid on auction items: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Mark Allen, OGR Roger & Martha Beyers, Beyers Funeral Home Bill & Linda Brock, Vander Plaat Funeral Home Koven Brown, K.L. Brown Funeral Home & Cremation Center Bob Childress, Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Home Donald & Debra Green, George Irvin Green Funeral Home Tom & Natalie Hemmerle, Barnett Strother Funeral Home Scott & Lisa Holmes, Holmes Funeral Home Norman & Ginny Juday, Haverstock Funeral Home Peter Kulbacki, Brunswick Memorial Mary Lee, Bryan-Lee Funeral Home Mike & Kathie Lewis, Lewis Funeral Home Lance Ray, Pierce Co. Cathie Tattrie, Smith Funeral Home Skip & Delores Urban, Anton B. Urban Funeral Home Jeffrey & Susan Wages, Wages & Sons Funeral Home John & Barb Wenig, Wenig Funeral Home Bud & Barb Wieting, Wieting Home for Funerals Robin & Cheech Williams, R. Lee Williams & Son Funeral Home & Crematory

The Independent® | Spring 2014 25

Young Professionals By: Denise Rodriquez, OGR Family Contact Coordinator

Adventurist Trailblazer


Dinora Congdon Congdon & Company Zion, Ill

26 | The Independent®


veryone has his/her own definition of fun, but when your hobbies include outdoorsy activities like golfing, fishing, and riding a motorcycle during the warmer months and cruising around on a snowmobile during winter, it’s safe to assume that you have more energy and grit than most people. Lucky for Congdon & Company in Zion, IL, adventurous OGR member, Dinora Congdon exerts the same amount of energy in the workplace as she does on her favorite past times. Dinora comments, “I do everything from finances and accounting, to meeting with families, embalming and a lot of cosmetizing/finishing and casketing.” Most family-owned funeral homes can relate to juggling multiple tasks. Nothing seems particularly assigned or off limits when working with families. Each employee needs to know how to do a myriad of tasks in order to give the best service possible. Dinora shares, “I grew up around the business and got my start doing yard work during high school. I graduated from Worsham (College of Mortuary Science) in 2004 and haven’t stopped learning new things about this industry since.” Congdon & Company has been a family-owned and operated funeral home since 1939, and Dinora was proud to be the first female funeral director among them. She also paved the way for her sister, Katie Congdon, to join her in the family business. Dinora shares that their influence on the way the funeral home operates is most noticed through the ways that they integrate technology into the work environment.

She says that their number one invaluable piece of technology that they utilize is their website, commenting, “It has been interesting to see the picture boards turn into slide shows, and phone calls turn into emails and even text messages. Our world is using computers more and more, and each family is different concerning how much technology they use.”

To Do:

When asked about her personal go-to app, Dinora chose her camera phone saying, “I can capture memories on a trip, or take an image of my notes for a service at work.” This is especially helpful when Dinora takes advantage of Congdon & Company has her love of traveling been a family-owned and and wants to docuoperated funeral home ment the places she’s since 1939, and Dinora been. Her favorite was proud to be the first part about the travfemale funeral director eling experience is meeting new people among them. and being exposed to different cultures, “I enjoy the sights, but I also enjoy seeing the different way people do things.” Her sense of adventure has led her to visit places in Europe such as Spain. She also enjoys traveling to the wild terrain of northern Wisconsin for camping and fishing trips. Dinora is currently involved in the OGR Young Professionals Task Force and is excited to actively contribute her thoughts as a young, female funeral director to our organization. She adds, “In our business, there are so many different ways to do things. With OGR we can come together to share ideas and bring new insight into our businesses. I hope to keep the tradition of OGR going strong using the knowledge of our elders and new insights from the younger generation.”j

The Independent® | Spring 2014 27

Remembering Family & Friends Robert James Carson Robert James “Bob” Carson, (Owner of Carson Funeral Homes in Orillia and Midland, Previous owner Carson Funeral Home Brooklin, Ontario, passed suddenly in Dutch St. Maarten on Tuesday January 21, 2014 in the place he loved with the woman he loved. Bob, loving husband of 40 years of Ann, will be loved, cherished and never forgotten by his sons Robert (Trish) Carson and Emma & Carter, Dan, David (Sara Ross) Carson, and Dean Corriveau, by his brother Bill (Linda) Carson, niece Katie, nephew Jeff, and by his 5 first cousins and all the extended family in his dad’s native New Zealand. He will be sadly remembered by his faithful four legged companion Bear. He will be remembered as the life of the party by all his St. Maarten friends and neighbours. He was a man who was committed to his family, loved his community, and always enjoyed a great debate around the dinner table. Donations in Bob’s memory can be made to St. James Anglican Church, or to the Orillia Branch of the OSPCA and would be appreciated by the family.

Margery Ann Fleming Margery Ann Fleming, 72, of State College, died Saturday, February 1, 2014, at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. Born July 29, 1941, in Cleveland, OH, she was the daughter of the late Dr. Benjamin S. and Virginia E. McBride Gillespie. On June 9, 1962, in Pittsburgh, she married Glenn Fleming, who survives. In addition to her husband, she is survived by her two children Stephen C. Fleming and his wife, Laura Collado, of State College and Rebecca L. Fleming of Evergreen, CO; one brother, John B. Gillespie and one sister, Mary Suzanne Gillespie, both of Pittsburgh; and four grandchildren, Sofia, Patricio, and Nicolás of State College and Alyssa of Evergreen, CO. 28 | The Independent®

Margery was a 1959 graduate of Edgewood High School in Edgewood, where she was a classmate of her husband, Glenn. She initially attended Case Western University in Cleveland, OH, and resumed her university education in 1986 at the Pennsylvania State University from which she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a minor in Business Legal Environment in 1992. Perhaps most important to Margery was her activity in the Episcopal Church. She became an active member first of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Hollidaysburg in 1962 and then of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in State College in 1973 through the rest of her life. At St. Andrew’s she served as a youth group leader, a vestry member, and on the church’s altar guild. Margery completed the training as a Stephen Minister in 2001, a program for Christcentered care to hurting people. She continued her religious training through the School of Theology at the Sewanee University: The University of the South in Sewanee, TN. She completed the program’s Theological Education for Ministry (“EFM”) in 2006 and earned the program’s distinction of Certified Mentor in 2012. As a program graduate and mentor, she participated in and moderated weekly classes for EFM program students. Margery’s personal passions were as a skilled seamstress, quilter, and bridge player. She cherished many years of vacation sailing with friends in the Caribbean, Penn State Football and Basketball. The highlight of her life, though, was her involvement in any of the activities of her children and grandchildren, especially their hockey matches, always finding time and energy to serve formally in roles such as a Girl Scout Leader or informally in any role.

Mildred S. Mann

Edward P. Mazur

Mildred S. (Smith) Mann, 90, widow of Samuel G. Mann, of Luther Crest and formerly of East Greenville, PA, died peacefully on Monday, January 13, 2014 at her daughter’s home in East Greenville.

Edward P. Mazur, CFSP, 55 of Ludlow, MA and Stratton Mountain, VT died peacefully Saturday March 15, 2014 after a valiant 3 year battle with cancer. Born in the old Ludlow Hospital, November 3, 1958, he was the youngest son of the late Ben S. and Emily D. (Kapinos) Mazur.

Born in Columbia, South Carolina, she was the youngest daughter of Rev. George E. Smith, Sr. and Mary Alice (Dew) Smith. She was a 1945 graduate, earning a BS in Nursing in the first nursing class at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, was a registered nurse and nursing instructor prior to her marriage. After marriage she moved to Pennsylvania and worked with her husband at the former Mann Funeral Home, now the Mann-Slonaker Funeral Home, in East Greenville, PA and in raising her four children. Mildred was a longtime member of New Goshenhoppen United Church of Christ and a 50 year member of the Perkiomen Valley Women’s Club where she had served as President from 1964-66. She was also a longtime member of Perkiomen Chapter #318 Order of the Eastern Star and was a Past Matron, District Deputy Grand Matron and served on many state committees and also a Charter Member of Lt. Matthew Smith National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She had a love of playing cards and belonged to several weekly bridge clubs in the area for almost 50 years. She will be sadly missed by her four children, Cynthia A. Mann and her husband, Randall Teteak of Westmont, IL; Frederick G. Mann and his wife, Julie of Severna Park, MD, Sheri G. Slonaker and her husband, Carl, Jr. of East Greenville and Samuel G. Mann, Jr. of Fairmont, WV; seven grandchildren, Steven C. Slonaker and his wife, Cori, Christopher M. Slonaker and his wife, Erica, Samuel Giffin Mann, Frederick G. “Biff ” Mann, Jr., Kristine A. Mann, Carson A. Slonaker and Thomas Mann and 3 great grandchildren, Joshua Martin and Nathan and Emily Slonaker. Along with her husband and parents she is predeceased by a sister, Mary Alyce Henley and a brother, George E. Smith, Jr.

Educated in Ludlow Public Schools, he was a 1976 graduate of Ludlow High School. He furthered his education at Holyoke Community College and was a 1978 graduate with an Associates Degree in retail management. He was a 1982 graduate of the New England Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences, and received his funeral director and embalmers license later that same year. Ed worked at the family firm, Kapinos Funeral Home, for many years and was a driving force in making many changes. In 1984 the firm was renamed Kapinos-Mazur Funeral Home to reflect the heritage of ownership. He also worked for several area funeral homes as a member of their adjunct staff. Active in the funeral service community, he was a member of the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association, the National Funeral Directors Association, and the International Order of the Golden Rule. In 2004 he was appointed to the Massachusetts State Board of Registration in Embalming and Funeral Directing by Governor W. Mitt Romney, and has served as secretary, and chairman. During his tenure on the board sweeping changes were made to pre-need funeral regulations, and a comprehensive rewrite of archaic state laws. Ed was currently serving as a Board mem-

Memorial Contributions may be made in her memory to the New Goshenhoppen UCC Nather Endowment Fund, 1070 Church Road, East Greenville, PA 18041.

The Independent® | Spring 2014 29

ber of the Funeral Service Foundation, the charitable voice of the National Funeral Directors Association and as a Board member of the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association.

Smaro Lee Black Sossoman

Ed was committed to community service in the Town of Ludlow. He served as a call firefighter with the Ludlow Fire Dept for over 20 years. He was appointed to the Board of Assessors in 2001 and served for over 10 years. He was currently serving as a member of the Long Range Planning Committee. He was a charter member and board member of the Ludlow CARES Collation, a member of the Ludlow Lions Club and a Charter Member of the Ludlow Rotary Club. In addition he served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Randall Community Center/Ludlow Boys and Girls Club. He led the community in 2000 in the Celebration of Freedom to raise funds and to honor and recognize World War II Veterans and home front workers. He led the town in prayer in the dark days following the September 11, 2001 attack, he and his committee, planned an emotional service of hope and remembrance. In 2005 he led the towns relief effort in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. He was also on the ground on day 5 after the hurricane to help funeral service professionals in Mississippi during the aftermath of the storm.

Born April 17, 1923 in Cabarrus County, NC, she was a daughter of the late Emmett Clinton Black and Permelia Ann “Annie” Pope Black Vanderburg. Smaro grew up on her family farm in Midland, NC, and during her childhood, was a member of Bethel United Methodist Church. She attended Bethel School in Midland and was a graduate of Brevard College, Brevard, NC. In 1946 she married her best friend Sara’s brother, John Calvin “J.C.” Sossoman, Jr. In 1949, J.C. and Smaro founded Sossoman Funeral Home in Morganton.

After super storm Sandy in 2012, he and Maxine led a clothing drive to aid the residents of Staten Island and the New Jersey Coast. In December 2012 the large evergreen tree on the funeral home property become an angel tree where the public could honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy by decorating the tree with angels. Ed was a past member of the Springfield Symphony Chorus, and Schola Cantorum. Ed was honored in 2006 as the Holyoke Community Colleges Distinguished Alumni and in 2008 as the Ludlow Polish American Citizens Clubs Citizen of the Year. He was recently named the Ludlow CARES Coalitions first Citizen of the Year. He was a communicant of St. Cecilias Church in Wilbraham, MA. He is survived by his wife and best friend Maxine C. (Bizon) Mazur, a brother Robert J. Mazur and his wife Laura of Wilbraham, and a brother in law Matthew A. Bizon of Springfield. He was predeceased by his mother in law Irene Bizon on March 5, 2014. 30 | The Independent®

Smaro Lee Black Sossoman, 90 of Morganton, NC died Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at Grace Hospital.

Smaro was a member of First United Methodist Church, Morganton. She and Sara, who Sara’s husband, Dick Todderud, called the “Snoop Sisters”, continued their friendship for over seventy years until Sara’s untimely death in 1999. She was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and sister. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of sixty-four years, John Calvin “J.C.” Sossoman, Jr.; brothers, Bill, Coy, and Joe Ben Black; and sisters, Avous Liles and Kathleen Flowe Rosser. Surviving are her children, Charles S. Sossoman, J. Calvin Sossoman both of Morganton, and Madelyn Sossoman Phillips and husband, Fred of Greensboro; her special daughter-in-law, Mary Lou Dougher Sossoman of Morganton; grandchildren, Mark A. Sossoman and wife, Rachel of Morganton, Kathleen Sossoman Link and husband, Ed of Decatur, GA, Caroline Phillips Trotter and husband, Michael of Charlotte, and Eric N. Phillips of Greensboro; great-grandchildren, Brendan A. Sossoman, Skyler Sawyer, Conner C. Sossoman, Ian C. Sossoman, Elise Sawyer, Elizabeth M. Link, and Patrick J. Link; sisters, Joyce Black Tucker and husband, Jerry and Mary Ann B. Black all of Midland, NC; sisters-in-law, Ruth Hammil Black and Eloise Ross Black; and a large number of nephews and nieces. She is also survived by her funeral home family of employees both past and present whom she dearly loved and by her special “Angel” Cleta Phillips and husband, Chuck whose loving and devoted care for the past three and a half years allowed Smaro to live comfortably in her own home. Condolences may be made online at

Bernard H. Suess Bernard H. “Bernie” Suess, of Perkasie, PA, died suddenly Monday, March 31, 2014, at his home. He was 86. He was the husband of Joan C. (Courtney) Suess. The couple would have celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary on April 10, 2014. Born in Camden, NJ, he was the son of the late Howard and Florence (Zirwes) Suess. A U. S. Navy Veteran of World War II, he was a member of the Hartzell-Crouthamel American Legion Post No. 280, Perkasie. A graduate of Eckel’s College of Mortuary Science, he was a funeral director since 1952. He was employed by Kirk & Nice Funeral Home, Philadelphia, before, along with his wife, purchasing the former Benner Funeral Home in Perkasie in 1960. Under Bernie and Joan’s ownership, the funeral home became known as the Benner-Suess Funeral Home and later the Bernard Suess Funeral Home. Bernie retired in 1999. He was a member of the National, Pennsylvania and Bucks County Funeral Directors’ Associations as well as the Order of the Golden Rule. He was a member of St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ, where he served as Treasurer, Deacon and Elder. A 32nd Degree Mason with the Lehigh Consistory, he was a member of MacCalla Lodge No. 596 F & AM, Souderton, PA. He was a former President of the North Penn Shrine Club and a member of the Rajah Shrine, Reading, PA. Surviving with his wife are a daughter, Lee Anne Kingsbauer and her husband Scott, of Sellersville, PA; a son, Gary Suess and his wife Elizabeth, of Greenville, SC; and three granddaughters, Stephanie Kingsbauer, also of Sellersville, Jillian Ziegler and her husband Joshua and their soon-to-be-born son, of Quakertown, PA, and Tara Suess, also of Greenville. He was preceded in death by three brothers, Howard Jr., Robert and William Suess, and two sisters, Marion Webster and Ruth Parkinson. Memorial contributions may be made to the Church at the above-named address.

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Exemplary Service

Above THE GOLDEN RULE & Beyond

These members have been cited for providing exemplary service, going beyond expected service levels, and are now eligible for the Winners Circle Exemplary Service Awards. Winners will be honored at the 2015 Annual Conference & Supplier Showcase. Comments submitted by families responding to Family Contact Surveys.

Freitag Funeral Home | Bridgeton, NJ While vacationing in Maine over the July 4th holiday, my mother passed away unexpectedly. In the past, we used Freitag Funeral Home for my father’s service and Ken did a wonderful job. Because Ken was on vacation, we were taken care of by Chris LaBree. I cannot say enough good things about how he helped our family during this horrible time. He coordinated with a funeral home in Maine and made all of the arrangements. He got my mother home on a holiday before I even got back to New Jersey. He kept in constant contact and we were able to meet the day after I got back. I can’t tell you enough how glad I am that he was there for us. He made recommendations about the service and everything was handled superbly. I always recommend Freitag and now I make sure to recommend Chris. Jakubs and Son Funeral Home, Inc. | Cleveland, OH Bill Jakubs is outstanding. With his many years of experience, he has developed the ability to discern human motivation. He drew upon that wisdom to lead us safely through a difficult passage. He immediately understood the predicament of those of us who wanted to do right by our friend (Steve Matyaszek), and he found a creative solution which enabled us—against all odds—to honor that precious soul with a proper ceremony. Mr. Jakubs shepherded us through this process with competence and compassion. He acted as our counselor, mediator, and advocate. Mr. Jakubs has won my respect and admiration. I deeply appreciate all his help. 32 | The Independent®

Brunswick Memorial Home | East Brunswick, NJ Peter Kulbacki was wonderful. Very sensitive to what our family needed. We were proud to have him care for Dad. Tony helped us at a sad time with such sensitivity. He was patient, explained everything in detail. He made a hard time easier to handle. The home was clean and tastefully decorated. There was plenty of seating. The comfort dog, Bogan, and the birds made it peaceful. The home handled everything—including the army service and obtaining a priest for us. It was a beautiful ceremony that truly honored our Dad. The video made for us by the funeral home was a beautiful memento. Very well done! Very special to us! Lewis Funeral Home, Inc. | Milton, FL Mike Lewis was very compassionate and helpful. He notified Frank’s retirement system for me and took care of the life insurance too. He also contacted Barrancas National Cemetery and arranged for the military service. The funeral staff was also very compassionate and dignified. I appreciated very much how they handled my husband’s body with such care and dignity. The ceremony took place at Barrancas National Cemetery. Two staff members were there to assist. I couldn’t have asked for more. The assistance Mike gave me with the paperwork I needed was invaluable. I hope all the funeral homes offer this service. I am forever grateful to Mike Lewis and his staff. They made a very difficult time easier for me.

Exemplary Service

Pearce Funeral Services, Inc. | Marshall, IL Ed has lain to rest many of our family members through the years. He is a walking local history book, remembering deceased loved ones and our various family connections. When there is a death in the family, Ed is certainly the funeral director one wants during a difficult time. Ed and his entire staff now including his son, Jeff, are sensitive and the people you want surrounding you at such a difficult, yet, sacred time in the journey of a life. I have been to many visitations and funerals throughout the Midwest, and I often compare other funeral homes to Pearce Funeral Home. None compare. From the smallest act of opening the front door when one enters a funeral home for a visitation to the biggest act of saying the final goodbye to a loved one, Ed and his staff are beyond compare. Kolssak Funeral Home, Ltd. | Wheeling, IL We met with Jon Kolssak. His explanation of a life celebration wake was marvelous. He explained everything and walked us through my father’s life. They (the staff ) were all exceptional. Larry was there during the celebration wake assisting whenever he noticed a question on our faces. John arranged to have my father’s favorite priest do the mass and provided him with information from our meeting. He also arranged the military portion and bagpiper at the gravesite. My biggest compliment I can give is that my father would have tipped his hat! Unfortunately, we have used Klossak three times in the past ten years, but they have always treated us fairly and with great respect. Schneider-Michaelis Funeral Home, LLC.| Jefferson, WI I have been to quite a few funerals at the SchneiderMichaelis Funeral Home in the past. I always noticed that she took great pride in her profession and the services she provided. I have always had great respect for Marla because she always goes the extra mile for the families’ wishes. She puts forth extra efforts to please the families and give the deceased a dignified service. She honors all wishes of the deceased. I could write a book about the respect shown when my husband, Claude, passed away. They gave me time to say goodbye and be with him for a while after his death. My family and I went to the funeral home to prearrange shortly before his death (I’m glad we did!).

She was concerned about me and made me feel that his funeral was something she would take care of (and she did). She even put the wearing of the orange in the obituary. There was also some polka music played at his wake. Marla and the staff visited with family members and allowed us to take some family pictures. It was an awesome funeral that I know Claude would have been happy to have seen. As I write this, I have tears in my eyes because Marla made it “his day.” Osborne Funeral Home, PA | Williamsport, MD This was and still is very hard to have lost my husband. Craig and Brandy Osborne and the rest of the staff helped me very much. I never expected to have to go through this because my husband was so young. They provided everything I could want. My husband was a hunter, and they had a camo lined casket. It was perfect. Thank you to Craig and Brandy Osborne and their staff for helping me through this very difficult time in my life. I highly recommend them. They are very caring people. Rybicki & Son Funeral Home | Garfield Heights, OH They were very understanding with us. My children were still in shock. They walked us through everything. They called the hospital, made arrangements and called me when they had Jack with them. Sarah was constantly with us. She was very warm and helpful and was very supportive with my son’s eulogy. I couldn’t ask for a nicer person to stand by me. My husband looked like himself. They made arrangements with the Air Force Color Guard and it was perfect. My husband would’ve been proud. The Rybicki family has a wonderful reputation in our community. When Jack suddenly died in the hospital and they asked who would handle the arrangements, I didn’t hesitate to say the Rybicki family.

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Milestone Anniversaries

MEMBERSHIP makes a difference

Fewer than 5 percent of funeral homes in North America have earned the right to hang an OGR plaque in their funeral homes. That plaque stands for something: It means you’re an OGR funeral home of prestige; you’re an OGR funeral home that operates with integrity; you’re an OGR funeral home that extends the golden rule of service to your community. Most importantly, it means you’re in the OGR family. The following members are celebrating milestone anniversaries in April, May and June.

55 Years | May 1959 Mulhearn Funeral Home LLC Monroe, LA

50 Years | May 1964 Welch Funeral Home Ford City, PA

25 Years | June 1989 David C. Brown Funeral Home Belleville, MI

55 Years | May 1959 J.C. Harwell & Son Funeral Home and Cremation Covington, GA

40 Years | May 1974 Hooper Funeral Homes, Inc. Inverness, FL

20 Years | April 1994 Flora Funeral Service, Inc. Rocky Mount, VA

30 Years | May 1984 Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A. Leonardtown, MD

15 Years | June 1999 Ferguson Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc. Bell Vernon, PA

55 Years | June 1959 Livingston-Butler-Volland Funeral Home Hastings, NE 55 Years | June 1959 Lescher-Millsap Funeral Home Webbers Falls, OK 50 Years | June 1964 Chiles & Sons-Laman-Shawnee Chapel Lima, OH 50 Years | June 1964 Stark-Welin Funeral Directors Boone, IA 50 Years | June 1964 Johnson Funeral Home, Inc. Lake Wales, FL 50 Years | May 1964 Brunner Funeral Home Inc Mentor, OH

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30 Years | May 1984 Hutchens Mortuary & Cremation Center Florissant, MO 30 Years | May 1984 Heafey-Hoffmann-DworakCutler Mortuaries Omaha, NE 25 Years | May 1989 C. Hastings Funeral Home Perry, IA 25 Years | April 1989 Soderstrum Funeral Home Story City, IA 25 Years | June 1989 Carlson Funeral Homes & Cremation Services, Inc. Brunswick, OH

15 Years | June 1999 Muehl-Boettcher Funeral Home Seymour, WI 10 Years | April 2004 Mark A. Jones Funeral Directors Brownsville, TX 10 Years | May 2004 Ford Stewart Funeral Home 10 Years | June 2004 Evert-Luko Funeral Home Hartland, WI Jonesboro, GA 5 Years | May 2009 Evan J. Strong Funeral Services Calgary, AB Canada

New Members

Welcome New Members Business Members: Mabrey Products Chico, CA Douglas M. Tobey Phone: 800-942-3799 Industry leader in the design and manufacturing of hardwood cremation urns. Providing Funeral Directors and their families a high level of personalization and customization for over 30 years. Offering hand-crafted personal memorials made the old-fashioned way, one at a time. Proudly, and always, made in the USA. Member benefit: 5 percent discount off urns, plus 3 percent discount for 15 day pay, net/45 day; 2 or more full size urns no charge to ship UPS to lower 48 states. NOTE: Thomas Pierce & Company merged with Johnson Consulting Group.

Johnson Consulting Group Scottsdale, AZ Jake Johnson 888-250-7747 Services include management and accounting services, consumer surveys and cash flow based loans for acquisitions, mergers and acquisitions. Member benefit: Exclusive savings to members

Funeral Home Members: Central Chapel Funeral & Cremation Primary Contact: Robert J. Moynihan 6158 South Central Avenue Chicago, IL 60638-4508 Phone: 773-581-9000 Fax: 773-581-9095

Affiliates: Auble-Gillman Funeral Home Primary Contact: Mark Auble West Sunset Drive Rittman, OH 44270 Phone: 330-682-2966

Student Member: Dewey Ellis (Worsham College) 609 Anderson Drive Lake in the Hills, IL 60156

Welcome New OGR Staff Member: Michael Ryan joins OGR as its new Accounting Director with 15 years of experience in the not-for-profit arena with both 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) organizations, including the Texas Exes, Association of Texas Professional Educators and Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals. He also has public accounting and industry background. Michael earned his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin, and his MBA at SWTSU. Michael is a licensed CPA in Texas. Michael Ryan Accounting Director The IndependentŽ | Spring 2014 35

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Spring 2014