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Winter 2013 I

Roll out the Red Carpet for Every

2013 Annual Conference

New Education Format will be Rolled Out for Attendees in Memphis

Stuff After Death How to Identify, Value and Dispose of Inherited STUFF

Strength in Numbers The Importance of Membership Referrals

Visitor GSG Spotlight Q & A with Access Financial

2013 Webinar Series Earn CEU Credits Without Leaving the Funeral Home




of Care



§ §












The OGR Golden Rule® of Care series is a completely revised and updated set of booklets and pamphlets written in clear, straightforward language with sensitivity and compassion to answer most questions and concerns families will have when confronting the death of a loved one. The series, organized into three sets - Pre-need, At-need and Aftercare - features individual booklets and pamphlets with each focused on a specific aspect of death care. The booklets are uniquely branded for maximum appeal, they include the Golden Rule logo, and they will make an attractive addition to any lobby, reception area, conference room, and on and on. Booklets and pamphlets can be imprinted to include your funeral home’s logo and contact information which also affords the perfect take-away pieces to help meet your marketing needs throughout the community.

For pricing and a list of available materials, visit Visit each month for an updated list of available materials. To request a sample or place an order, contact OGR Service Consultant, Maureen Hayes at (800) 637-8030


Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


Table of Contents

Inside OGR President’s Message


Board Nominations



2013 Annual Conference & Supplier Showcase

In Memoriam


New education format will be rolled out for attendees in Memphis.

New Members



Are Your Funeral Home Guests Impressed?

GSG Spotlight


By Adam Miles Martin, Martin Funeral Home, Fairgrove, Mich. Learn the importance placing value on your immediate families as well as their guests.

Exemplary Service


Milestone Anniversaries



Stuff After Death

By Mary Miley Theobold How to identify, value and dispose of inherited stuff.

Newsworthy Study Group a Success


New Book Teaches Children About Death & Life 18


Strength In Numbers.

By Denise Rodriguez, OGR Family Contact Coordinator Keeping OGR membership strong: The importance of membership referrals.

Funeral Business Boot Camp 19 NFDA Awards of Excellence 20 Member Helping Member: Sandy Relief

Calendar [ Feb. 28 ]

of Events [ March 28 ]

Webinar: Growing Your Firm in Today’s Economy

[ April 25-28 ]

OGR Annual Conference Webinar: & Supplier Showcase, Employee Concerns: Memphis, Tenn. Funeral Home Liability & OSHA Complaince

[ July 25 ]

[ Sept. 26 ]

[ Oct. 18-19 ]

Webinar: TBA

Webinar: Using Telecommunications to Manage & Grow Your Funeral Home

OGR Fall Forum, Austin, TX

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


[ May 23 ] Webinar: Alternatives to Embalming

[ Nov. 26] Webinar: Innovative Technology in Funeral Homes: Challenges & Victories


The Independent® is a benefit of membership in the International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR), a not-forprofit organization tax-exempt 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

B OAR D OF DIR E CT OR S Michael S. Lewis


David Fry

President-Elect Secretary-Treasurer

Wayne “Bud” Wieting

Immediate Past President

Jeffrey S. Wages CFSP William Brock, Jr. CFSP


F. Edward Pearce

advertiser’s iNDEX

Peter “Skip” Urban Roger Beyers

Access Financial Group............................... 7, 9 Chris Chigas, (800) 487-8220, ext. 8233

Answering Service for Directors .............. 17 Kevin Czachor, (800) 868-9950

Executive Director Communications & Marketing Director Staff

Mark Allen Scott F. McClure Maureen Hayes Connie Haymes

Aurora............................................................. 32

Pamela Hutchinson

Chip Ray, (800) 457-1111

Gael Murdoch Denise Gomez

C& J Financial ................................................. 31

Denise Rodriguez

Jamie Meredith, (800) 785-0003

Jessica A. Smith

The Red Book, National Directory of Morticians ............ 29 (440) 247-3561

Debbie J. Smith

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.


360 Press Solutions, Cedar Park, TX

Publisher International Order of the Golden Rule 3520 Executive Center Drive Suite 300 Austin, Texas 78731 (800) 637-8030 Fax: (512) 334-5514 Email: Website:

The Independent® |


Winter 2013 | Volume 16 | Issue 1

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


President’s Message

What’s in it for me? by Mike Lewis


he word Membership is defined as a group of persons associated by some common tie or occupation and regarded as an entity, synonymous with participation, belonging and fellowship. Your choice to be a member of OGR puts your business in the rank of independently owned funeral homes who wish to be set apart and recognized by offering excellence in funeral service. That reason in and of itself gives you the opportunity to open many other doors to gain professional success. OGR’s membership benefits may appear on the surface to be similar to many of those offered by any myriad of professional associations. OGR does its best to communicate all the offerings which accompany your membership and strives to make your benefits more valuable. It is, however, a member’s responsibility of choice to take advantage of these offerings.

fied via e-mail about upcoming events and special activities. You’ll choose to get the information you want, when you want it. • Education. OGR offers members the resources to update their knowledge of business and trade basics or acquire related information through study groups, Webinars, workshops and break-out sessions at conferences. • Publications. OGR offers a wide variety of news and information publications focusing on both industry specifics as well as association happenings. The Independent® magazine offers a fresh look at what’s going on in your business world. The INdependent Insider is OGR’s e-newsletter that gets you all the funeral service news that’s fit to print. E-FACTS is the association’s happenings publication which keeps you abreast of association activities and special offerings.

Being a member of OGR opens you up to business relationships which can be a source of answers and solutions when you’re facing a challenging situation in your business. • Networking. Make contact with fellow members, deepen existing business relationships and make new contacts on a regular basis. Such networking goes beyond the exchange of business cards – as you attend annual meetings, become active on a committee or take a leadership role, you’ll forge lasting relationships with others who share the same professional interests, values and business concerns. These new relationships will provide an ongoing source of inspiration and new ideas. • Online resources. OGR’s new Website (coming soon) will offer a “members-only” section that provides access to a variety of databases and message boards, as well as list-serve subscriptions so that you can be notiWinter 2013 | The Independent | ®

Being a member of OGR opens you up to business relationships which can be a source of answers and solutions when you’re facing a challenging situation in your business. At the very least, the feeling that you have a support network behind you can boost your confidence when problems arise. The connections you make, the resources made available to you and the ideas and advice you discover represent an outstanding return on what amounts to a modest, manageable investment of time, money and effort. Membership could turn out to be one of the best things you could do for yourself and your business. The value and benefit you receive from the association is up to you. So, come on, help make this the best association in the business. 5




The editors of National Geographic Traveler have selected Memphis as one of 20 must-see places in 2013. National Geographic writes “there’s something newly electric in the air” and credits the vision of Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Shelby Farms Park and Central BBQ for their innovative and DIY spirit in making Memphis great. To make your stay complete, the magazine recommends visitors stay at the famous Peabody Hotel. The International Order of the Golden Rule invites you, your friends and colleagues to join us in celebrating our 54th Annual Conference & Supplier Showcase. The historic Peabody Hotel in Memphis will play host to OGR members and their guests this year, and we are looking forward to introducing new education formats. In addi-

tion to top-notch education sessions, we will introduce one breakout session, which will offer three topics, and an interactive case study on OGR study groups. We are also introducing our Experts Panel which will discuss the future of the funeral service industry. GSG Suppliers will be on hand in the Supplier Showcase to share how their products and services can help your bottom line. OGR has a fantastic schedule of events planned for your three days in Memphis! Networking events, Welcome Reception, Awards Luncheon, President’s Reception and the Annual Banquet are just a few of the highlights of this year’s 54th Annual Conference and Supplier Showcase. So make plans to join your fellow OGR members for what’s sure to be our best conference yet! SM

E d u c a t i o n Facilities Face-lift: Quick Fixes and Cost Effective Upgrades Behrens Design & Development, Inc. Does your funeral home need to be updated? Are you losing potential customers from an outdated facility? Join us for an innovative and inexpensive approach to giving your building a needed face-lift.

Connecting to Customers: Telephone Etiquette & Accommodating Price Shoppers Scott Newton, Graystone Associates, Inc. The nature of the phone price shopper has radically changed over the last few years. Price shoppers are doing extensive research before they call prospective funeral homes, making it more challenging for an unprepared funeral director to properly handle the call with solid execution. In this session, you’ll learn how any staff member can skillfully answer price shoppers’ questions and convert them into long-term customers.

How Funeral Directors can become Invincible to Lawsuits and Save Thousands in Taxes Larry Oxenham, American Society for Asset Protection Is your financial house in order? Discover the tools you can use to become invincible to lawsuits, save thousands in taxes, and achieve financial peace of mind. Larry Oxenham will show you how to make your firm seem like an unattractive target to plaintiff attorneys so that they will avoid suing you. He’ll also explore five tax reduction strategies that will you help you save thousands of dollars each year.


Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


More Education Trends in Technology: Making the Right Choice for Your Business Jon Clare, FrontRunner Professional and Matt Dugas, SRS Computing Solutions Technology can help you make progressive changes in your funeral home without overwhelming you. Industry leaders FrontRunner & SRS will present on technological trends and help you understand the easy and inexpensive opportunities available to your funeral home. This session will highlight software options and the tools you need to implement new technologies into your business. NEW FORMAT

The Power of Collaboration: Why Study Groups are Your Key to Success Gregory Darte, George Darte Funeral Chapel Are you interested in collaborating and working with other members after the Annual Conference? OGR has started study groups to provide members with the opportunity to do just that. In this dynamic session, you’ll explore best practices and listen to a panel of fellow OGR members who’ve participated in these collaborative groups. You’ll also participate in a breakout session where you will experience this unique learning opportunity and learn how to start your own study group.


Experts Panel: The Future of Funeral Service Mike Nicodemis, Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory; David Nixon, Nixon Consulting, Inc.; and Michael Quinn, Aurora Casket Company Experts from cremation, burial, and the business side of the Funeral Service industry will discuss where they see the industry heading in the next five years. These experts will share their perspectives on the future and provide you with added insight on the pitfalls and victories which may lie ahead.


Breakout sessions – Nontraditional Funerals / Young Professionals (40 and under) / Cremation Choose one of three breakouts sessions for more intimate discussion and collaboration. These sessions will provide you with a powerful opportunity for networking and will be led by a moderator who will set the framework for the discussion. Interested in more than one session? Not a problem! Spend a few minutes in each session to get a taste of all three.

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


Great Ideas Exchange - Gold Level Members Join us for an annual favorite, the roundtable discussion. In this year’s Great Ideas Exchange, Gold Level Members will learn new ways to tackle challenges and to provide exceptional service to families. Come prepared with questions and your own best practices to contribute to the annual networking exchange.

Accomodations & Extras The Peabody Hotel In the heart of "Blues City," you'll find The Peabody Memphis, a magnificent Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond historic hotel. This legendary and charming hotel is located downtown, just minutes from Memphis attractions like Beale Street, Gibson Guitar Factory, the National Civil Rights Museum, Sun Studio, and Orpheum Theatre. To make room reservations, call the Peabody at (901) 529-4000 and ask for the OGR rate of $179.00 per night by March 31, 2013. This rate is only guaranteed while rooms are available in the room block, so make your room reservation early. When making flight arrangements, be sure to fly into Memphis International Airport (MEM), located only fifteen minutes from the Peabody. For transportation to and from the airport, reserve a private van or towncar service through the Peabody Concierge at (901) 529-4000 or take a registered taxicab. Visit for more information. Awards of Excellence Scholarship Auction Help support future generations of funeral directors and do some shopping all at the same time! This annual auction benefits the Awards of Excellence Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to mortuary students in their last year of school. Your donations make the auction a success, so contact Jessica A. Smith at with your contributions of gift baskets, travel vouchers, industry products, or other unique items.


City Tour on Memphis Music Bus! On Sunday, April 28th, hop on Memphis’ only music bus for a fun-filled tour of the Home of the Blues. See Beale Street, Sun Studio, Stax Records, the Lorraine Motel, movie locations and more, with an experienced Memphis musician from Backbeat Tours as your guide. The guide will play and sing selections from the city’s rich musical heritage and provide generous amounts of comedy and audience interaction. Join us at 10:00 AM for two hours of high-energy fun for $30.00 per person. A separate visit to Sun Studio may also be included depending on interest. Pre-registration is required for the bus tour. Continuing Education Credits The annual conference will offer up to 10 CEUs in states where approved. Visit for a current list of approvals. Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


Schedule at a Glance Thursday, April 25, 2013 5:00 - 6:30 p.m.

Welcome Reception

Friday, April 26, 2013 7:30 - 8:00 a.m. 8:00 - 8:45 a.m. 8:45 – 9:00 a.m. 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 12:15 - 1:45 p.m. 1:45 – 2:15 p.m. 2:15 - 3:15 p.m. 3:15 - 3:45 p.m. 3:45 - 4:45 p.m. 4:45 - 5:30 p.m. 5:30 - 6:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m.

Coffee and Pastries Opening Session Break / Supplier Showcase Facilities Face-lift Break / Supplier Showcase Connecting to Customers Awards Luncheon Memorial Tribute Breakout sessions Break / Supplier Showcase Great Ideas Exchange Supplier Showcase Closing Reception Scholarship Auction Meet for Dutch Treat Dinners

Saturday, April 27, 2013 7:00 - 8:00 a.m. 7:30 - 8:00 a.m. 8:00 - 9:30 a.m. 9:30 - 9:45 a.m. 9:45 - 10:45 a.m. 10:45 – 11:00 a.m. 11:00 – 12:00 p.m. 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. 1:00 - 2:15 p.m. 2:15 - 2:30 p.m. 2:30 - 3:45 p.m. 3:45 – 4:00 p.m. 4:15 – 5:15 p.m. 6:15 - 7:00 p.m. 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Leadership Appreciation Breakfast Coffee and Pastries How Funeral Home Directors can become Invincible to Lawsuits and Save Thousands in Taxes Break Trends in Technology Break OGR Annual Meeting (Members Only) Regional Meetings Lunch The Power of Collaboration Break Experts Panel Break Great Ideas Exchange President's Reception Annual Banquet & Officer Installation

Sunday, April 28, 2013 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Two-hour Music Bus Tour

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


2013 Annual Conference Registration Form

Firm _______________________________________________________________________ Address ____________________________________________________________________ City, State/Province, ZIP/Postal Code ______________________________________________ Phone __________________________________ Fax ________________________________ Email _______________________________________________________________________

Meeting Registration Exhibitor Registration Form is available at Members q 1st Full Registrant ________________________________ Lic# _______________ $769 (includes all events EXCEPT Memphis Music Bus City Tour) q Addl. Full Registrant ______________________________ Lic# _______________ $699 (includes all events EXCEPT Memphis Music Bus City Tour) q Social Guest(s) ______________________________________________________ $469 (includes all events EXCEPT educational sesssions & Memphis Music Bus City Tour) q One-Day _______________________________________ Lic# _______________ $369 (includes all events EXCEPT educational sesssions & Memphis Music Bus City Tour) q Student ________________________________________ Lic# _______________ $269 (includes all events EXCEPT educational sesssions & Memphis Music Bus City Tour)


$869 $799 $569 $419 $369

Optional Tickets q Memphis Music Bus City Tour Registrant name(s) _____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ q Additional Annual Banquet tickets q Additional Welcome Reception tickets q Additional Awards Luncheon tickets

Payment Method q Check, amount of $

Qty: __________ x $30 each

Qty: __________ x $125 each Qty: __________ x $85 each Qty: __________ x $50 each

Total $ ___________________

(payable to OGR in USD).

Charge: q AmEx q Discover q MasterCard q Visa Name as it appears on card: Account #: Exp Date: Signature *Security Code: *Small three or four digit number on back; AmEx on front.

Check all that apply to your firm; list name(s)

q First-time attendee q Prospective Member referred by:

Registration & Cancellation Policy Full payment must accompany registration. If you are unable to attend, another staff member may attend in your place. If you must cancel, notify OGR in writing no later than 10 days before the conference. Refunds will be processed minus a $75 administrative fee, and no refunds will be made if notified less than 10 days before the event or for no-shows.

Register online at 速 Mail to: OGR, 3520 Executive Center Drive, Suite 300, Austin, TX 78731, orIndependent fax to (512) The | 334-5514. Winter 2012 速



WELCOMe guests

Are Your

Funeral Home Guests impressed?

By Adam Miles Martin, Martin Funeral Home


In reading numerous funeral service publications monthly and following several blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds about funeral service, I constantly read about providing a high level or care, concern and attention to detail for the families that choose “your” funeral home. I think that any funeral director that cares for his or her business, and who is truly passionate about what they do, is constantly looking to improve a family’s satisfaction in the choice they have made in picking a funeral home. Barring some type of catastrophe or major mistake – which unfortunately does happen from time to time - I believe that the “immediate” family is typically satisfied with the job we do. I point out immediate family because they are the people who receive our closest attention. If we know a family well, we have probably been talking with them for weeks or months prior to the death. We consult with them over the phone shortly after we receive our first calls; we spend two to three Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®

hours with them finalizing arrangements and helping them set up a truly memorable life tribute. We are there when they first walk in the door and hold their hands as we enter for first visitation or identification. We are by their side, as is our staff, providing attention to every detail during visitation and the funeral, and I’m sure many of us are there after the funeral providing support and grief guidance. Doing this should, and often does, allow us to have a dramatic impact on their lives and hopefully allows us to serve them again in the future as the need arises. Nothing should ever prevent us from doing all of the aforementioned. But what if we look at the bigger picture? What about the guests and more distant relatives of those “immediate” family members? What do we do to truly impress them? Many times they are here only for a short period of time, 20 to 30 minutes during the visitation. We have a little bit more time to impress those who stay for the funeral or memorial service, but what do we do at that time? We typically turn everything over to a minister, who, more often than not nowadays, doesn’t really even know the deceased. 11

When the family’s guests arrive to pay their respects during the visitation or gathering period, they usually don’t get a chance to meet the funeral director or owner. We have about 20 to 30 seconds to greet them at the door and direct them to the register book and another 5 to 10 seconds to thank them for coming as they exit the building. We certainly can’t intrude upon them as they are visiting because they didn’t come to visit us. They want to visit and console the family – the people they came to see. Many times these visitors don’t know the deceased very well or at all; they know the children, grandchildren and siblings. How do we then make such an impact on these guests, who we only have direct contact with for less than a minute? Then, when they are back in their cars, putting their seat belts on and getting ready to drive away from your funeral home, Mrs. Guest looks over to Mr. Guest and says, “That is a really impressive funeral home. I’ve never seen anything like what they did.” You could make such an impact that they could make the decision at that moment that yours is their funeral home of choice for the future.

May all those who enter as guests leave as friends.

The arguments I usually hear are that the grounds and building are well maintained and well kept – inside and out. Or perhaps it has to do with the caring and compassionate staff that greets guests at the door. Maybe it could be the fancy memorial folders or register books or candles or video slide shows. I would make the argument that in this day in age, all of those are no longer elements that make a funeral home exceptional; they are the things that help a home keep up with the status quo. Aren’t most funeral homes well maintained? Don’t most firms employ compassionate people to work there? Can’t a 12 year old with an iMac take 30 minutes to make memorial folders and a video tribute that are better than ours? Again, I revisit that we have the immediate family— they’ve gotten to know us and do appreciate all of the services that our funeral homes provide, but the normal isn’t good enough to impress the guests. 12

Given the fact that you can’t and don’t have the time to interact with each guest to a level that makes a connection, everything else you provide must truly be impressive. When guests pull in your parking lot, how have you impressed them prior to entering the building? When they walk through the front door, what is it about your lobby or foyer that makes an immediate impact on them? How does your staff greet and interact with them? What is the walk like from your lobby to the gathering room? How is the gathering room laid out? Does it look like every other “chapel” they have been in at every other funeral home, or is yours somehow different? Repeat this process as they are leaving – is there anything memorable about their exit? This doesn’t even include what we are, or are not, doing to impress those guests who are in attendance at the funeral or memorial service. Are they experiencing a truly fitting tribute to the deceased or the same funeral they’ve been to a dozen times with a different decedent’s names replacing the last one or maybe the 23rd Psalm in the memorial folder instead of “God Saw You were Getting Tired.”

The immediate family is and must always be our focus. They are the ones who are in need of our years of experience, our care and our availability. This emphasis should never waiver. If we do this part of our job correctly, then we will hopefully be rewarded with the opportunity to take care of this family again in the future. If we hope to expand and grow not only our reputations and our volume, then we must appeal to the guests of the family. By impressing upon them – in such a short period of time the exceptionalness of our operation versus those they have been in before, as GUESTS, we are one step closer to being at the top of their mind during that moment when the nurse in the hospital walks up to them with a clipboard and asks, “I’m going to need to know what funeral home you’ve decided to use?”

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


“ big” SAVINGS When you need more, spend LESS with OGR. OGR Aurora Advantage Program

All Standard Caskets

All Standard Urns

18-Gauge Steel Caskets

Stainless Copper & Bronze Caskets

50% + of annual casket purchases through Aurora





Annual Aurora casket purchases of $50,000 +




Annual write-up of $50,000 + of Homesteader’s Life Insurance Policies of qualified Aurora caskets




Annual purchase of $25,000 + of Aurora Bronze memorials









Shop with OGR and save time, effort & money with the OGR Aurora Advantage Program. Contact your Aurora Representative at (800) 457-1111 or Connie Haymes at OGR (800) 637-8030

Happy Holidays from Our Familyto Yours

The OGR offices will be closed Dec. 24 through January 2 so that our staff can spend time with loved ones over the holidays. Orders will be taken at or call direct at (217)532-6591

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


Unfortunately, this dilemma hits people at the worst possible time, when grief has wrung them dry and left them vulnerable. Overwhelmed by funeral arrangements, financial issues, wills, notification of friends and family, social security forms, legal hassles, travel arrangements, medical insurance—all the while trying not to neglect jobs, children, and surviving family members—they need another major undertaking like they need the flu.


By Mary Miley Theobald

One of the biggest dilemmas people face after the loss of a loved one is what to do with all their Stuff. Dividing and disposing of a family member’s possessions is a daunting job made harder by the fact that few people are adept at evaluating objects. And before they can decide whether to keep, sell, donate, recycle, or toss an item, they need to know what it is and roughly what it is worth. Apart from professional appraisers or museum curators, most people know little about the objects their grandparents own. Even parents’ or siblings’ belongings can be a mystery. Mother always said those Hummel figurines were very valuable—are they? And those spoons—sterling, silverplate, or nickel silver? Are the pearls real or imitation? Is that painting a priceless original or a worthless copy? Are you sure? 14

Some heirs will find that their loved one wrote a will leaving clear instructions for property division: the ruby necklace to Jane, the coin collection to David, the remainder to Goodwill. The odds, however, are against this. The majority of Americans—in some estimates, two thirds—die without a will. Even those who have a will usually neglect the specifics in favor of phrases that speak generally about dividing property equally or fairly between the heirs. But what is equal? Is the crystal bowl worth the same as that old table? Out of respect for the deceased and an obligation to the heirs, no one wants to do anything foolish, like selling that dusty painting of a dull landscape to a man at the yard sale for $20, only to learn it was a Constable that he re-sold for $450,000. But the plain truth is, most things are worth far less, in terms of monetary value, than people think. A few things are worth far more. Value is a constantly changing concept. Things that were valuable some years ago are no longer worth much today (think Beanie Babies), and things that were commonplace years ago can be very valuable today (think Roy Rogers lunch boxes). Not all old things are valuable. Contrary to popular belief, prices don’t automatically go up over time. They often go down (think Hummels) or fluctuate with changing fashions (think oriental rugs). ®

Mary Miley Theobald is a historian and freelance writer. She received her B.A. and M.A. from the College of William and Mary. She taught American history and museum studies at Virginia Commonwealth University for thirteen years. She has written nine nonfiction books and more than 175 articles for a variety of magazines and newspapers, most on history, travel, or business topics.

Hiring estate sale professionals can be a good idea, especially when the deceased lived some distance from the heirs or when time is of the essence. But many heirs prefer to deal with the Stuff—or at least some of it—themselves, dividing up what they want to keep and disposing of the rest. Most need help. A new e-book, Stuff After Death: How to Identify, Value and Dispose of Inherited Stuff, helps people through this process with information and suggestions about dealing with the Stuff commonly found in people’s homes. For example— --comic books. A general rule of thumb is that comic books printed after 1980 have no significant value. There are just too many of them around. Most shops and collectors are looking to buy those that date earlier than 1969. And the first comic books came out in 1938, so none are older than that. Still not sure? Take them to a comic book shop—there’s at least one in almost every town. --old clothing. Might some of these be “vintage” (pre-1970) that a vintage clothing store would buy? Some shortcuts to dating clothing: Plastic zippers mean the item is newer than 1960. If there are buttons rather than zippers, like a button fly on a man’s suit or buttons up the back of a dress, it probably dates from the Twenties or Thirties. If it has a tag with washing instructions, don’t bring it into a vintage clothing shop—those weren’t mandated until 1971. --American silver. The word STERLING or STER means the item is 92.5% silver. Save this, no matter what its condition. The word COIN means it is 90% silver. It does not mean the item was made from melted coins. It just means the silver content is the same as that of coins (at least, when coins like quarters and dimes were really made of silver), which was 90%. A little less than sterling, but still quite valuable, with silver selling at about $33 a troy ounce. Save this. The letters EPNS means there is a thin, thin, thin layer of silver on top of base metal. Those letters stand for ElectroPlate on Nickel Silver. Never mind its name, nickel silver isn’t silver at all; it’s an alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc that looks silvery. What little silver there is in that piece was electroplated on top of the nickel silver in a coating so thin, it’s measured in microns, or millionths of a meter. Even if the coating is several microns thick, it isn’t worth the effort of extracting the silver. A piece marked EPNS has no monetary value, but save it if it’s useful. If it’s damaged, toss it in the trash--silverplate has no resale value. (Unless it is old, as in 19th century, in which case the plating is thicker,

The word COIN means it is 90% silver. ®


but the real value comes from the piece’s age, not the silver content.) Sterling and coin have resale value, even if dented or squashed, because they can be melted down. The book tells precisely how to figure the value of these items by converting them to troy ounces, so heirs won’t be swindled by dodgy silver/gold buyers. --shelves full of books. Generally speaking, paperback books seldom have monetary value, but hard covers can surprise, especially if they are first editions or have local interest, are in decent condition, and have original dust jackets. Leather-bound books have value, even if it is only the cosmetic sort. Interior decorators often buy these for their clients. Throw out (or recycle for paper content) obsolete textbooks, old encyclopedias, phone books, and Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. Check with a local VA hospital to see if they’d like a donation of those paperback thrillers for our recuperating soldiers. Those stacks of National Geographics that are supposed to be so collectible? They have no monetary value, but a kindergarten teacher or art teacher might appreciate them for the color pictures that can be cut out for projects.

may be preferable to take weeks, even months, to research and consider each item and decide what it is, whether it has any value, who should have it, or how it should be sold, recycled, or disposed of responsibly, reality often interferes. With families scattered across the country—or across the globe— the difficulties mount. Maybe the surviving children live in other states and have only a couple days to go through Dad’s belongings and empty the house in preparation for its sale. Or Aunt Lena passed away in an assisted living apartment, and the management is gently urging her heirs to clear out her things so the next person on the waiting list can move in. For many, hiring an estate appraiser and auctioning off the bulk of the estate may be the best way to go. Stuff After Death deals with the issues facing heirs who choose this route. The Greatest Generation is fading fast, by some estimates, at a rate of 3,500 a day. Their heirs are

Not all old things are valuable. Contrary to popular belief, prices don’t automatically go up over time. They often go down (think Hummels). the Baby Boomers, the largest population bulge in American history, a group that moves through the decades like a meal through a boa constrictor. Within the next decade, the Boomers themselves will start to pass away in significant numbers and pass along their possessions. It is an endless cycle of taking and giving that none of us avoids.

--a glass bowl. Is it cut glass or pressed glass? Cut glass items can be valuable; pressed glass is its cheaper imitation. Feel the edges: cut glass edges are noticeably sharper than pressed glass, almost sharp enough to cut your finger. But a single chip reduces a piece’s value to practically nothing. Not everyone has the luxury of time to deal with a house full of Stuff in the optimum manner. While it 16

Funeral directors can help their clients through this difficult time by providing a resource that lets them take control and helps them decide whether to hire estate sale professionals for a quick and easy job or whether to handle all or part of the process themselves. Free information about identifying and disposing of the Stuff you’ve inherited is available on the blog, The book, Stuff After Death: How to Identify, Value and Dispose of Inherited Stuff, is available in e-book format for $4.99 at or

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®



Study Group a success

For more information on attending or hosting future OGR Study Groups, contact Jessica Smith, Education Director at or (800) 637-8030.

“Idea Exchange on


S eroids”


eorge and Gregory Darte were the successful hosts of OGR’s first ever Study Group. A group of OGR members came together in St. Catherines, Canada for a rewarding and insightful exchange of ideas on how to improve their businesses and the industry as a whole. The reviews are in and they are all raves! The following are excerpts from E-mails sent by participants heralding time well spent: FROM: Peter Kulbacki “The beauty of it is that it’s not a seminar focused on a single topic. You never know what simple little thing is going to pop up in conversation that you can efficiently add to your repertoire that no one else in your area is doing.” “The free-flowing exchange of information can sometimes be like ‘taking a sip of water from a firehose’ can’t write them down quick enough.” “The Study Group is the Idea Exchange on steroids!!!” FROM: Mal Brown “I can’t tell you how inspiring it was for me to be with such true professionals and to share ideas and thoughts in that nurturing environment.” “The experience of that time spent with you has totally reenergized me, and I am most grateful for your kindness.” FROM: Joe & Lynne Moore “We couldn’t have had a better time! To hear your philosophies and ideas was very instructive for us.” “Study groups such as this offer a tremendous learning opportunity.” Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®

Send us your E-mail address to receive OGR’s online Newsletters- 17



Who is fully prepared to teach others about death and celebrating life? Ideally these lessons are learned before challenge, illness or death occurs. This book was created to help all ages support and assist each other through the tough times. Many important lessons are taught through the Spanish and English text while animal characters tell the story. As funeral service options constantly change with the rapidly increasing rate of cremation, children and adults will benefit from this unique new tool. Cremation, funeral/memorial service options, and healthy strategies for grief work are covered. This resource will enable parents, caregivers and teachers to enhance education today and build strong, healthy adults for tomorrow. The author, Billie Staton Humphrey, BS Kentucky Wesleyan College, is a certified grief management specialist through the American Grief Academy with service as a funeral home/crematory aftercare coordinator since 1993. Billie majored in Sociology, Religion and Philosophy. Her career, covering more than forty years, has focused on giving help and hope to the bereaved and those with special needs of all ages. She is married to Dr. Tom Humphrey. They have two daughters and a granddaughter. Persons desiring more information, to schedule an interview, or purchase books may email Billie Humphrey at . OGR member pricing: Single copy price $10.00 plus $2.00 for shipping and handling. Quantity prices and media mail rates are significantly less and based on destination. Please contact Billie Humphrey at 972-459-5264 or for the very best price to meet your needs.


Winter 2013 | The Independent | 速





ineteen funeral home owners, managers, and future owners completed a 40 hour long workshop sponsored by GSG Supplier, The Foresight Companies, LLC entitled, “FUNERAL BUSINESS BOOT CAMP”. These 19 people represented 15 businesses and came from all around the United States. The group owned or managed more than 24 funeral home business locations and five cemeteries and served about 7,000 families a year. “These 19 people spent about 40 hours of time to get organized and complete a detailed Excel spreadsheet with their financial and operating data before they got here, spent 40 hours in workshops here and will spend the next six months implementing the business plan they have written based upon their knowledge gained from this session. That is a huge commitment to improving their businesses!” said Daniel Isard, the President of Foresight. “This group studied all aspects of their operating business, marketing, merchandising, business succession, tax, cash flow, HR, technology and pre-need. They did so in Phoenix, during a hot August, where the temperature didn’t drop below 100 degrees for a minute,” Isard added. The attendees worked through a process to analyze their business and ultimately write a business plan that they can take home with them. Tyler Pray of the Pray Funeral Home in Michigan said, “Boot Camp brings your whole world into question and in one week starts your entire business plan moving forward.” The process of implementing the business plan of attendees is a six month follow-up being headed by Dan Heaman, Marketing Associate of Foresight. “Many seminars educate you but this Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®

one gives you a tangible roadmap to take home and my job is to help you implement your business plan for the next six months.” Heaman, a licensed funeral director who started working for Foresight this year added, “It is amazing how the attendees went from having a limited knowledge to a thorough understanding of what they need to create or fix in just one week, with our supervision.” “Dan Isard, Dan Heaman and I would work with a group to personalize the lessons and highlight the corrective actions that were needed,” Kruger said. “In many cases the data presented the solution so clearly, you could see the seminar registrant’s eyes light up when they realized how clear the problem and solution were,” he added. Joel Swisher of Hixson Brothers, Inc. in Louisiana said, “At the end of the week you have a better knowledge of what you need to do to get you where you want to be!” Attendees were from different roles in their businesses. There were five cemetery or combination operations present and ten funeral home businesses, most of which had multiple roof tops to service. Some were current owners like Roger Richie of Ziegenhein & Sons Funeral Home in St. Louis. Roger said, “This was the best seminar investment I’ve made in over a decade!” Two attendees were managers that were not owners. About half of those attending were the next generation of owners of their family business. For more information on the next session please contact Susan at The Foresight Companies by phone (800) 426-0165.

Back Row: Dan Heaman, Joel Swisher, Todd Ansberg, Matt Schichtel, Tyler Pray, Keith Brown, Steve Harkins, Gary Strand, Clay Higgins, Kevin Kruger, Debbie Griffin Front Row: Steve Wickens, Roger Richie, Erin Whitaker, Nick Farenga, Ben Fielding, Ruth Harkins, Sharon Brody, Marla Meeks, Reggie Fielding, Dan Isard



NFDA Hall Of Excellence OGR Member Inductees A.H. Peters Funeral Home of Grosse Point, Grosse Point Woods, Mich.

OGR MEMBERS RECOGNIZED for EXCELLENCE The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) recently announced the names of the funeral homes that have earned a 2012 Pursuit of Excellence Award. The Award is presented annually to firms that have demonstrated a commitment to raising the bar on funeral service excellence by adhering to strict ethical and professional standards and providing outstanding service to families and communities. To earn an NFDA Pursuit of Excellence Award, a participating funeral home must meet or exceed business standards set forth by the program and demonstrate proficiency in key areas of funeral service, such as compliance with state and federal regulations; providing ongoing education and professional development opportunities for staff; offering outstanding programs and resources to bereaved families; maintaining an active level of involvement within the community; participating and actively serving in the funeral service profession; and promoting funeral home services through a variety of marketing, advertising and public relations programs. Participants are also required to adhere to a Pledge of Ethical Practices.

Cozean Memorial Chapel & Crematory, Farmington, Mo. Eggers Funeral Home & Crematory, Chesnee, SC

2012 NFDA Pursuit of Excellence Awards/ OGR Recipients A.H. Peters Funeral Home of Grosse Point, Grosse Point Woods, Mich. Arlington Memorial Chapel, Inc., Manila, Philippines Arnett & Steele Funeral Home & Cremation Center, Pineville, Ky. Brunswick Memorial Home, East Brunswick, N.J. Caldwell & Cowan Funeral Home, Covington, Ga. Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral and Cremation Service, Alliance, Ohio Cozean Memorial Chapel & Crematory, Farmington, Mo. David C. Brown Funeral Home, Belleville, Mich. Eggers Funeral Home & Crematory, Chesnee, S.C. Gardinier Funeral Home, Inc., Franklin, Penn. Kapinos-Mazur Funeral Home and Cremation With Confidence by Kapinos-Mazur, Ludlow, Mass. Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home, Inc., Hamburg, N.Y. Martin Funeral Home – Vassar, Vassar, Mich. Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte, Mich. Proko Funeral Home, Kenosha, Wis. Twiford Funeral Homes, LLC, Elizabeth City, N.C. Wieting Family Funeral Home, Chilton, Wis.


Winter 2013 | The Independent | ÂŽ



community to assist those in need, no matter how far we find ourselves from the actual devastation. It is this type of response that brings us together not only as a nation, but as compassionate human beings.”



GR member firm, Hahn-Groeber Funeral & Cremation Service, reached out to a faraway community to aid those impacted by the recent storm along the New Jersey and New York shores. As a member of The International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR), Rich Groeber stated, “We must come together nationally as a

OGR member firm, John Vincent Scalia Home for Funerals Inc., Staten Island, NY, found itself at the epicenter of the recent Superstorm. While they may have not suffered the complete destruction as some of those around them, John Scalia embraces the needs of his community as his own. Just as Mr. Scalia has opened his facilities to those in need, so does fellow OGR Member, Rich Groeber as he reaches out to help those in Staten Island.


We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the volunteers of Partners in Sound, the Carl Vincent Bini Foundation, our fellow A Heart Grows Funeral Director Members of the International Order of the Golden in Staten Rule and last, but not least our Island staffs of the Historic Old Bermuda Inn & A Kitty’s & Family Florist who prepared, served and delivered over one thousand hot lunches . And, our staff at the John Vincent Scalia Home for Funerals, who volunteered their time to prepare, arrange and conduct three donated funerals for Sandy victims Our staffs and volunteers were able to receive at our which we were called upon to provide. Funeral Home and at our catering center, The Old Bermuda Inn, enough goods to fill and refill four overA Special acknowledgement to my friend, Bud Royer, of seas shipping containers. Royer’s Roundup Café, Roundup, Texas (population 99) who donated, transported and delivered 2,000 pies into We would also like to thank the priests, staff, and parishthe area for Thanksgiving Dinner. ioners of St. Joseph- St. Thomas, Our Lady Star of the Sea, Holy Child, St. John Neumann, St. Clare’s and St Our family will never forget YOUR generosity and kind Charles Churches who helped make this out-pouring of hearts! support happen. he John Vincent Scalia Home for Funerals Inc., Staten Island, NY would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our Staten Island Neighbors who responded to our call for clothing, food, cleaning supplies, blankets, sheets, towels, etc. These items were and will be distributed to our affected neighbors who lost so much in the path of Hurricane Sandy.

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®



Nominees from the membership are up for two seats on the 2013-2014 OGR Board of Directors. Ballots will be mailed by January 25 to all members eligible to vote and ballots are due no later than February 8. New Board members will be formally installed on April 27, during the banquet at the annual 2013 Conference to be held in Memphis, Tenn.


Board of Directors Candidates

Adam Miles Martin Miles T. Martin Funeral Home, Inc. Fairgrove, Mich

Charles A. Castiglia Lakeside Funeral Home, Inc. Hamburg, NY

President of Martin Funeral, Cremation & Tribute Services, Adam Martin is responsible for overseeing the direction and operations of the funeral homes. Additionally, Adam currently serves on OGR's Communications Committee. He was a presenter at OGR's 2006 Annual Conference and at the OGR Teleconference in June 2011.

Charles A. Castiglia is a Licensed Funeral Director in New York State with a AOS in Funeral Service from Simmons Institute of Funeral Service, a BS in Business Management from Houghton College, and MS in Strategic Leadership from Robert's Wesleyan College. Charles is involved in many area organizations and has been employed at the Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home since 1981.

Martin Funeral Home was the 2011 recipient of OGR's Golden Rule Community Service Award and has been a member of OGR since 1982. Adam is a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner and Certified Pre-planning Consultant through NFDA. Martin Funeral Home's locations have received NFDA's Pursuit of Excellence Award 51 times. Adam is a third generation funeral director and makes his home in Mt. Morris, Michigan with his wife, Jennifer, and their daughter.


“It is a privilege to be considered for OGR’s Board of Directors. OGR has worked through some difficult transitions and I believe it is needed in the funeral profession now more than ever. I will bring my time and experience to the membership and help build a new future for OGR and our profession.” “My wife, Rachel, and our three children have encouraged me to give back to the industry that has given so much to us. We also have a duty to ensure the stability of OGR for future generations of funeral directors. My past experiences and Master’s Degree in Strategic Leadership will be valuable assets towards this goal.” Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


In Memoriam

Geraldine Anna (Larabee) Copeland

Sandra P. Holmes

Geraldine Anna (Larabee) Copeland of Copeland Funeral Homes, age 87, of Coraopolis, PA, passed away unexpectedly due to complications from fractured ribs on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at Heritage Valley Sewickley.

Sandra P. “Sandi” (Chappas) Holmes, 64, loving wife of 40 years to Howard M. “Mick” Holmes (Holmes Funeral Home in Manchester, Conn.), passed away peacefully at home on August 21, 2012 with her family at her side, following a seven year journey with cancer.

She was born in Auburn, NY on Jan. 26, 1925 to the late Rev. Leland Henry and Jessie Henrietta (Dean) Larabee. Beloved wife for 64 years to Raymond Dixon Copeland; loving mother of Jessica Volante (John) of Moon Twp., Carin Copeland of San Diego, CA and Thomas T. Copeland (Denise) of Moon Township.

Sandra was born on July 16, 1948 in Lowell, Mass., daughter of the late Bella (Moge’) Chappas and Nicholas G. Tsapatsaris. She was raised in Manchester, attended local schools, and upon graduating in 1966, accepted a position at Holmes Funeral Home where she worked for seven years and was then a stay-at-home mom to raise her family.

Please help continue the Raymond D. Copeland and Geraldine L. Copeland Charitable Trust (begun in 2007), United Methodist Foundation, 223 Fourth Ave., Benedum Trees Building, Suite 707, Pittsburgh, PA. ”Gerry, I love you.” “Mom, we love you and know you are paddling in your red canoe on peaceful waters.”

Edna M. Earl We are sad to report the October 8 death of Edna Mae Earl. She is the mother of OGR Past President and NFDA Past President, Randy (Evelyn) Earl of Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Homes in Decatur. In addition to her son, Edna is survived by her daughters, Marlene (Bob) Simpson, Darla (Terry) Clayton, and son, Larry (Zella) Earl; grandchildren, Colleen (Toby) Perry, Janice Earl, Jeremy (Dana) Clayton, Bradley Simpson, Leah (Chris) Mullins, and John Earl; great grandchildren, Samuel, Zachary, Jim, and Ty; brother, Bill (Debby) Bradley, and half-brother, Dean (Doris) Wade. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, one brother and one sister. Memorials may be made to the donor's choice. Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Home, Decatur, IL, will be handling the arrangements. Condolences may be left to the family at Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®

Mary Lucille Heffner Holmes Mary Lucille Heffner Holmes, Mother-in-law of Thomas R. Shepard (Thos. Shepherd & Son, Inc., Hendersonville, NC), Mary Lucille “Lucy” Heffner Holmes, 88, died at her residence on July 15, 2012 after a period of declining health. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Thomas James Holmes; four brothers, Thomas Granville Heffner, Joe Lee Heffner, Bobby Sherrill Heffner, and Ray Ward Heffner; and her sister, Elizabeth Heffner Orr. Born with a beautiful voice and plenty of rhythm, music was an important part of her life, including travelling with the Ecusta Band as a vocalist, performing in many local venues, stage and film performances, and being a charter member of the Hendersonville Choral as well as a choir member of Mills River United Methodist Church and First Congregational Church for numerous years.

Dorothy M. Rowbotham Dorothy M. Rowbotham, 94, of Seminole, Florida, mother of Cheech Williams (R. Lee Williams & Son Funeral Home, St. Petersburg, Fla.), passed away on Thursday, Aug 30, 2012. She was born in Girard, Ohio and moved to Florida 41 years ago. She was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. She is survived by her daughter, Cheech (Robin) Williams; granddaughter, Stephanie (Jerry); Grandson, Nate (Kryn); great granddaughters, Sarah and Samantha; and a great grandson, Colten.



Strength in Numbers Help Grow Your Association


GR is an exclusive organization that relies on current members nominating their colleagues in the funeral industry who they believe will represent the organization with dignity. This is why it is important for current members to recruit qualified candidates to join us. By nominating at least one independent funeral home owner/director from your state and talking to them about the benefits of membership, you are not only helping out your colleague by giving them a chance to be part of a selective organization, but you are also contributing to the success of OGR. The high standards of our organization are set by our members. As a member, you are able to take an active role in deciding which funeral homes in your area share the same caliber of service and OGR spirit. You want to connect with independent, family-owned funeral homes that are committed to improving their profession and creating a strong business that serves their respective communities. This strong alliance of members makes a difference in creating a better future for independent funeral service professionals and is yet another pathway for our members to continually improve their businesses. Fortunately, OGR sells itself and makes recruitment as simple as sharing your own OGR experience with a prospective member. Just think about the benefits you receive from being an OGR member. The Family Contact Program collects invaluable client feedback that is used to help manage funeral home services. OGR accepts the most qualified candidates which means that all information that is shared between our members is coming from highly regarded professionals who display extreme proficiency in their field. Our funeral home suppliers in the GSG program offer some of the best products and service discounts in the industry that are extended to our members only. We have an array of 24

educational opportunities: we host value packed conferences, seminars, interactive audio presentations, and online conversations where members are able to attain the most relevant knowledge and skills on current practices. We also have The IndependentÂŽ, our quarterly magazine for members to keep you upto-date on news and events happening in the funeral industry. Imagine the excitement if each current member recruited just one new member and OGR doubled in size with a great repository of rich ideas to share, uniting and preserving independent funeral homes and memorial services. We cherish the opportunity to grow and trust in your judgment to find quality members that will bring great energy and pride to our organization.

Welcome New Student Members Tyler O’Brien 9992 Arborwood Apt 427 Cincinnati, Ohio 45251 (707) 295-0423 College: Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science Est. Grad Date: June 2013 Courtney VanFossen 216 N. 2nd Street Lehighton, PA 18235 (484) 464-5537 College: Northampton Community College Est Grad Date: December 2013 Harry Watson, Jr. P.O. Box 5534 Plainfield, New Jersey 07061 (732) 456-0531 College: Mercer County Community College Est Grad Date: May 2013

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ÂŽ


New Members

Business Members America’s Great Funeral Homes Tom Frisch (800) 730-1096 Referred by David Fry, Fry Funeral Home, Tipton, IA AGFH believes that pro-active minded funeral homes need to reach out to people in new and creative ways via a variety of new and old media channels. Our exclusive Special Celebration of Life Themes and accompanying marketing pieces are designed to help consumers in your communities see the value in having “something” when a death occurs within their families. Visit for the AGFH Menu and Member Price Guide for 2012-2013. Cremation Systems Tom Snyder (281) 824-2547 Referred by George Darte, George Darte Funeral Chapel, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada Cremation Systems is a manufacturer of custom built human and pet cremation equipment suited for businesses of varying size. Constructed to easily fit through a standard 8’x8’ door opening cremators are equipped with a Quick Change Modular Tile Hearth System™ that allows for the fastest repair option in the industry. The machine weighs less than 16,000 lbs., has a built in Fire Marshall Retort Monitor, offers the Tec Marshall™ Internet Diagnostics product and is delivered ready for installation by Cremation Systems’ staff. Member benefit: Pricing, terms and liability coverage specially crafted for Golden Rule Funeral Homes

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®

Federated Insurance Company Michael D. Russell (800) 533-0472 ext. 4555175 Federated insurance provides business insurance protection to 1500+ funeral service providers across the US. Highly rated and financially secure, Federated Insurance offers specialized products and services designed specifically to protect your business. Member Benefit: Members receive specialized insurance services created for the funeral service industry. GriefSong Paul Alexander (800) 538-4158 Referred by Ed Pearce, Pearce Funeral Services, Marshall, Illinois Music resource that is contemporary and useful not only for services but also for aftercare, personalization and video tributes. Paul Alexander is available for in person events, workshops and concerts to enrich the community in a unique way. Member pricing: Special discounts for all products ordered in bulk and discounted fees for live appearances National Cash Flow Devlin Holt (866) 306-6007 Referred by David Fry, Fry Funeral Home, Tipton, IA Help families in need by offering a no credit score required, 12-month repayment funding program. By getting families financed, you don’t have to be the bank any longer and you’re A/R and bad debt will shrink dramatically. National Cashflow by Holt Enterprises, Ltd. is a consulting firm specializing in four specific areas of cash flow management: 1) At-need financing 2) Accounts receivable process improvement and collections 3) Tax reduction using cost segregation and 4) Debtpaydown programs. Member pricing: 10 percent discount on all services 25

GSG Spotlight


Pre-need Funeral Trusts Take the Spotlight


Chris Chigas, President of Access Financial Group, an OGR Endorsed Supplier, recently sat down with Connie Haymes, OGR Golden Services Group Director to tell readers about pre-need services offered to OGR members.


Describe your client base. How many funeral home clients do you serve?


We currently provide pre-need trust services on either a full service or record-keeping basis to 778 funeral homes around the country.


How many FH clients do you provide the following services to and what is the total dollar represented for each service?


As an Investment Advisor and a broker/dealer, Access Financial Group works for 463 funeral homes, managing and accounting for assets of $275 million. Acting solely as a record-keeper, Access Financial Group/Interment Trust Services works for 315 funeral homes representing $160 million in pre-need funds.


What is the total dollar amount in the pre-need fund?


Currently, the Golden Rule Trust has almost $33 million in assets.



What measures does your company take to ensure the pre-need meets state and federal regulatory requirements?


When AFG begins a new trust program in a state where we don’t currently do business, we do a full review of state laws as they pertain to pre-need. On an ongoing basis, we work with our existing clients to make sure we are staying in compliance with changes in pre-need laws in any given state.


Is there a regulatory agency, accounting or auditing firm or other groups who perform a review and/ or audit of the following?


Access Financial Group is both a Financial Industry Regulatory Agency (FINRA), and Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC) registered firm. Both of these regulators audit our general securities operations and financial stability, (not pre-need specifically). This year, we have also been audited by the Connecticut Department of Banking, specifically for our pre-need business in the State of Connecticut.

In addition, AFG/ITS has hired an outside auditor to conduct a complete review of our pre-need operations. These audits, called a Service Organization Control Audit or SOC-1 Audit, are an in-depth review of all our procedures in our pre-need program. The audit is meant to find gaps and weakness in our procedures and controls. To date, AFG/ITS has passed the SOC-1 audits.


How often does your company go through a review?


The first SOC audit is an 18 month long audit. Subsequent SOC –1 audits are done on an annual basis.

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


GSG Spotlight


What oversight is included in the review and/or audit process?


What type of investment vehicles are used for the pre-need funds?

Check that investments comply with investment policies -




Verify that funds are in compliance with pre-need laws -

We manage all of our pre-need portfolios in the same manner. The funds are invested only in bonds that are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government or its Agencies.




What fees are associated with the pre-need?

Look at what your company says it is doing compared to what is it supposed to be doing legally -

Investment fees -



While not specifically looking for the legality of our actions, the SOC-1 audit does make sure that we are doing for our clients what we have committed to doing.

Portfolio management fees on pre-need funds vary from 40-65 basis points. In some instances, commissions are charged on trades in lieu of a flat fee.

Record keeping fees -


Look for weaknesses -



Record-keeping fees, which include tax form preparation and filing, range from 50 to 65 basis points.

Randomly verify that clients’ account reports match your company’s reports -


As part of the SOC-1 report, clients are directly contacted by our auditors to independently verify the information supplied by AFG/ITS.

Q: A:

Are reports issued?

Yes, by our independent auditor. The reporting period covers the previous year. The 53 page report is available to AFG clients which includes the board of OGR.


Describe the overall performance for the pre-need fund account.


The primary goal of the pre-need investments is safety of principle, while providing enough interest to keep up with inflation. This policy may be a bit less than exciting but we believe that being conservative with these investments is paramount.

Access Financial Group has managed the OGR Golden Rule Funeral Trust for almost 30 years, providing pre-need trust accounting and investment advice. For more information on AFG trust services, visit Chris Chigas, President of AFG can be reached at (800) 487-8220 or AFG has been a Golden Services Group Supplier since 1983.

Thank You

OGR would like to recognize Wenig Funeral Homes for their generous donation to the scholarship fund. In Memory of Edna Mae Earl Wenig Funeral Homes PO Box 141 Sheboygan Falls, WI 53085-0141

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


Exemplary Service

Above & Beyond

THE GOLDEN RULE These member have been cited for providing exemplary service, going beyond expected service level, and are now eligible for the Gold, Silver and Bronze Exemplary Service Awards. Winners will be honored at the 2013 Annual Conference & Supplier Showcase. Comments submitted by families responding to Family Contact Surveys.

Stockham Family Funeral Home | McPherson, Kan.

Smith Funeral & Memorial Services | Warren, R.I.

They are very professional but also very caring and made a follow-up call to my home a few days following service. They were concerned for my wife’s appearance in the casket and also for my welfare. Mr. Stockholm even got a casket delivered right away because the color my wife wanted was not on site. Mrs. Stockholm made a casserole for me to heat up; she said it was important to eat before the funeral to keep up strength.

Funeral director was very understanding and guided the family in what we wanted for a military casket and funeral. The funeral greeter on the day of wake was excellent. Driving to the Veteran’s cemetery was very good and they handled all the cars on a busy highway in an orderly manner, taking over 40 minutes. When we were doing our planning when my husband was alive, I suggested your home. He did not want this at first; however, we attended a wake there, and just as he walked into the main entrance he said, “I want to be here.”

Pray Funeral Home, Inc. | Charlotte, Mich. Tyler Pray and the entire staff at Pray Funeral Home went out of their way to give us the kind of service we wished for our Dad. I never once heard the word “no.” Everyone was very compassionate, friendly, and knowledgeable. Any one of them could answer any questions we had. The rooms are comfortable and inviting. Reminds me of home. The ceremony was of the highest quality I have ever seen. They were attentive to every need from helping us in and out of the car to letting us have as much time as was needed after the ceremony. They took care of all the details that families don’t have time or forget to do.

Mulhearn Funeral Home LLC | West Monroe, La. The funeral director was very patient and understanding of extenuating circumstances that came up. All of our needs and even a few special requests were easily and eagerly met by staff. When you deal with people during sorrow and grief, it takes a special person not to distance yourself from people who are at their worst. The staff was extremely understanding and willing to accommodate any need or try to ease any concern. They are truly exceptional people!

Wetzel Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc.| Hanover, Penn.

Rose & Quesenberry Funeral Home| Beckley, W. Va.

Steve Miller made us feel very “taken care of.” He is a professional in every sense of the word. Any questions or concerns we had were answered and taken care of immediately. The staff is very caring and makes a very bad time a lot better. They take time, allow the family time and treat the deceased with the utmost care and respect. The ceremony was personal and executed in a caring and familial manner. My granddaughter (II) wanted to sing a song for her grandmother, and Steve treated her as if she were a professional. It made her day. They do everything possible to make for a memorable and easier time.

Bill Bowles—funeral director—provided not only individualized personal detail to our needs, but he was easy to understand and worked with us in payment for the services, which helped during this difficult time. He arranged a special time my daughter could paint my mom’s fingernails and her personal beautician to fix her hair and a special preview time for immediate family to view her prior to visitation. Sandy Evans spent a lot of time with us helping us not only pick out the casket, but also verses for cards, the video tribute, clothes, flowers and every detail for the service. She helped with her compassion and caring for our family.


Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®


Exemplary Service Faulmann & Walsh Golden Rule Funeral Home | Fraser, Mich. Jim is truly the nicest, caring individual I have ever met. The same is true for his daughter; they are part of my family now. Jim really got the family involved, welcomed individuals to speak to say what they were feeling. Being able to place flowers and close the casket was difficult but we were very pleased to be able to do that with Sara’s assistance. Sara stayed with the family to observe the interment of my mom. We placed flowers and dirt onto the casket, and she stayed until it was complete.

Leete-Stevens Enfield Chapels | Enfield, Conn. Charlie Palomba made us feel very relaxed and comfortable at a time that is horrible for any family. No one wants to deal with this, and he can settle anyone down. Staff is friendly and politely concerned, always asking if we need anything. We were short a pall bearer due to illness, and Mr. Palomba just took over and became one. Who could ask for more? Leete-Stevens is amazing in my book.

Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home, Inc.| Alliance, Ohio Nancy was super in helping us. She went above and beyond what was expected in helping us. She took extra time to make us feel very comfortable in the tasks we had to do. There was never any sales pitch or asking us about our funeral plans. Nancy went above her job in answering questions we asked her and explained them to us very well. She is very dedicated to her job and to all the people she comes in contact with. She always has a smile for you, and she always asks how you are doing. We could not have asked for a better funeral home. They let you know that they really do care about your family.

Winter 2013 | The Independent | ®

Loyless Funeral Home, LLC | Land O’Lakes, Fla. Alan helped me during a difficult time. He handled my husband with respect. He was concerned about my feelings. My husband was laid to rest with military honors—thank you— not just for my husband but all military personnel who fought for this country and who your funeral home took care of. You all care. Be proud of your staff that cares about everyone concerned. I was very pleased about my husband’s appearance, who was in full uniform. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

George Irvin Green Funeral Home, Inc. | Munhall, Penn. Scott, we can’t thank you enough for all of your patience, helpfulness and support you gave to my brothers, my husband and me in making decisions on behalf of our mom’s funeral arrangements. We are so grateful and thankful for choosing your funeral home. You and everyone on staff at Green Funeral home were all concerned about our feelings and treated our mom and us with dignity, respect and comfort. My mom made everyone feel “special” and in the end, that’s exactly what your funeral home did for made her funeral very “special”. You made her funeral the most beautiful, special and perfect reflection of her life on earth and her passing into heaven.


Milestone Anniversaries

MEMBERSHIP makes a difference 50 Years | November 1962 Preston-Schilling Funeral Home, Ltd. Dixon, Ill. 50 Years | December 1962 Hooker and Whitcomb Funeral Service, Inc. Barre, Vt. 50 Years | December 1962 Brenner Mortuary, Inc. Pittsburg, Kan. 50 Years | January 1963 Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors Milford, Mich. 45 Years | November 1967 Nail-Haggard Funeral Home, Inc. Daingerfield, Texas


25 Years | December 1987 Toothman Funeral Home St. Clairsville, Ohio

15 Years | November 1997 Sheridan Funeral Home Lancaster, Ohio

25 Years | January 1988 Jakubs and Son Funeral Home, Inc. Cleveland, Ohio

15 Years | December 1997 Riddle Funeral Home, Inc. Vermilion, Ohio

20 Years | December 1992 Slack Funeral Home, PA Ellicott City, Md.

15 Years | December 1997 J.J. Hartenstein Mortuary, Inc. New Freedom, Pa.

20 Years | December 1992 Cozean Memorial Chapel & Crematory Farmington, Mo.

15 Years | December 1997 Falconer Funeral Home, Inc. Gilbert, Ariz.

20 Years | December 1992 Miller-Ward Funeral Home Seymour, Conn.

45 Years | December 1967 Fox Funeral Home, Inc. Saxonburg, Pa.

20 Years | December 1992 Plummer Funeral Services, Inc. Litchfield, Ill.

25 Years | December 1987 Cassaday-Turkle Christian Funeral Home, Inc. Alliance, Ohio

20 Years | January 1993 Hurst-Scott Funeral Home Richlands, Va.

15 Years | January 1998 Olsen Funeral Home Jefferson, Wis. 5 Years | January 2008 Oliverie Funeral Home Manchester, N.J.

Winter 2013 | The Independent | 速


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® The Independent | Fall 2012 31

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