The Independent - Spring 2022

Page 1

Spring 2022 | Volume 27 | Issue 2

Happy Memorial Day:

Words Matter P.30


Annual Conference Schedule P.5 Disaster Relief Partnership P.38 Changing Death Rituals

— OFFICERS — Evan J. Strong, President

Evan J. Strong Funeral Services Calgary, Alberta

Paul A. Hummel, President-elect The Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) is an association of independently owned funeral homes across North America and overseas who pledge to a strict code of ethical business and service standards of conduct. The men and women at Golden Rule funeral homes lead their businesses with compassion, dignity and the cornerstone philosophy of "Service measured not by gold, but by the Golden Rule" (to do unto others as you would have them do unto you). OGR has worked for nearly 100 years to resolve common challenges that independently owned funeral homes face, and to prepare them for and guide them through the next stages of funeral service.

— 11 ETHICAL STANDARDS — Golden Rule funeral homes are held to the highest service standard. Fewer than 5% of independently owned funeral homes can call themselves Golden Rule funeral homes, pledging their efforts to the pursuit of the standard of the Golden Rule in all of their personal and professional relationships. Those that do hold this title promise to adhere to a set of 11 ethical standards: • We pledge to treat you and your loved one with compassion and respect. • We pledge to serve any family in time of need. • We pledge to abide by a strict code of ethics. • We pledge to be truthful in all we do. • We pledge to respect all faiths, creeds and customs.

• We pledge to keep families’ confidences. • We pledge to disclose prices fully and clearly. • We pledge to clearly explain charges. • We pledge to provide the highest level of competence and care. • We pledge to further our education to better serve you. • We pledge to help meet the needs of those in grief.

Hummel Funeral Homes, Inc. Akron, Ohio

Christopher B. Miller, Secretary / Treasurer

Thomas Miller Mortuary & Crematory Corona, California

Mary F. Steele, Past President Arnett & Steele Funeral Home Pineville, Kentucky

— DIRECTORS — Kim R. Hunter

Humphrey Funeral Home Toronto, Ontario

Raffy S. Jose

Arlington Memorial Chapels, Inc. Quezon City, Philippines

Arianna Rule

Brunswick Memorial Funeral Home East Brunswick, New Jersey

Peter Urban, Jr.

Anton B. Urban Funeral Home Ambler, Pennsylvania

Jamie L. Wieting

Wieting Family Funeral Home Chilton, Wisconsin

— STAFF — The Independent® is a benefit of membership in the International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR), a not-for-profit 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 month of each new quarter. Non-member subscriptions (USD): One year: $40; two years: $60; single copy: $11.50. Send address changes to OGR, Attn: Mailing List, 3502 Woodview Trace, Ste. 300 Indianapolis, IN 46268. ©2022 International Order of the Golden Rule. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. 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 www. 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. 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. Publisher

International Order of the Golden Rule 3502 Woodview Trace, Ste. 300 Indianapolis, IN 46268

phone: (800) 637-8030 fax: (512) 334-5514 email: website:

Wendy King, CAE

Executive Director & CEO

Nancy Weil

Member Resources Director

Emilie Perkins, CAE, CMP, CMM, PMP Education & Events Director

Evan Hoffmeyer

Communications Director

Catalina Gallegos

Communications & Marketing Coordinator

Elly Wertz

Membership Coordinator

Anna Delph

Meetings & Events Coordinator

2 | Spring 2022

The Independent® | Spring 2022 | Volume 27 | Issue 2

Conference 22 MAY 15 - 17




presented by

Table of Contents 4 5 6 8 9 10 13 18 28 30 34 38 44 46 49 55 56 58 59 60

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President’s Message Disaster Relief Partnership Pet Remembrance Services Free Grief Support Group Online Reviews YP Spotlight: Brittany Teaster Competing Against Direct Cremation 2022 Annual Conference Preview Foundation Scholarship Recipients Happy Memorial Day Montage Your Change Journey Changing Death Rituals Member Spotlight: Beau "Lac" Member News Supplier News Above & Beyond In Memoriam Milestone Anniversaries Advertisers Index Event Calendar | The Independent®


President’s Message

President’s Message

Join Me in Indianapolis!


'm looking forward to seeing you this year at OGR's Annual Conference! Our board and staff have worked to offer virtual connection opportunities in the three years since our last in-person meeting to help keep our connections strong, but I am excited that we will finally have the opportunity to step outside the Zoom box and see each other again in the flesh. This year's meeting in Indianapolis from May 15 - 17 promises to be full of informative learning, great discussion and the chance for us to finally visit and catch up.

some great ideas and I look forward to seeing those ideas come to fruition, and to being a support to him in any way I can in my year as Immediate Past President. The coming year in our association will also be shaped, in part, by the results of our member-needs survey, which opened in late March. Depending on when you read this, it may still be open and available for participation. If so, I encourage you to take part so the board can make important decisions regarding the future of OGR based on as many members' voices as possible. To those who have already answered the survey, on behalf of the entire board and our staff, thank you for your time and input! I hope you can attend the conference this year and I look forward to seeing you soon. In service,

It will also be the time when I hand over the gavel of leadership of our association to President-elect Paul Evan J. Strong Hummel, III. Paul is coming to the presidency with OGR President, 2021-22

SUMMER SERIES: OGR Member Virtual Roundtables Spend some time this summer, joining your fellow OGR members for a pair of lively conversations. Dive in by asking questions, sharing concerns or offering suggestions and best practices. These gatherings always result in implementable ideas you can use in your funeral home. “Salute”: How are you honoring (and growing your business with) veterans and first responders? Thursday, June 16 | 3 p.m. EDT

4 | Spring 2022

Help Wanted Thursday, July 14 | 3 p.m. EDT

Learn more and register at



Castiglia, Hemmerle Partner on Tornado Relief By Evan Hoffmeyer, OGR Communications Director


GR prides itself on being a place where our members can connect with one another to share ideas and spur each other on to better serve their communities, but it’s also a place where our members forge personal connections that extend beyond the funeral home. When the deadliest tornado outbreak the United States has seen in more than a decade ripped through the South and Midwest in December, members came together to help their community – but also to check Goya Products in Buffalo, N.Y. donated 80 cases of canned goods to Castiglia & Hemmerle's drive (photo courtesy Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home) on one another. Hardest hit was Kentucky – home state of OGR past president Tom Hemmerle – with victims Moving Systems donated the shipping of all they’d collected to Tom’s Barnett-Strother Funeral Home in ranging from a 2-month-old to a 98-year-old. Madisonville, Kentucky, 700 miles away. “When I saw the news about the tornadoes ripping through Kentucky, I reached out to Tom to see if his “When I started the drive, I had no idea how much we family and business were safe,” said Charles Castiglia of would collect nor any idea how I was going to get it delivOGR member firm Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home ered,” Charles said. “I just put it out there and trusted that things would work out, which they obviously did.” in Hamburg, New York. This wasn’t their first joint “He told me they were all effort and Charles says it spared, but his community won’t be their last. Each had a lot of devastation. I time, they learn a little offered to do the drive to try more and can do a little to help his community out better with the next drive. and he made suggestions as With this drive, Charles to what to collect.” said they were reminded With that, a joint effort that people and businesses began between two Golden have charitable hearts. In Rule Funeral Homes to many cases, they’re willing help those who had survived rebuild their lives. What to help if someone will simply ask. started as a basic Facebook campaign drove enough

Don't be afraid to ask for help. It really does take a community.

“Families trust us at a very difficult time in their lives. “We have done drives in the past, but I believe people To entrust a loved one into our care is no small gesture. stepped up extra because they knew I had a personal I believe that creates a very special relationship between relationship with Tom,” Charles said. That included us and the families we serve. So when we asked for help, businesses in the Buffalo, New York, area. Goya Prod- they came out in droves to assist the cause.” ucts donated 80 cases of canned goods. Corrigan donations to fill an entire bay of Lakeside’s garage. | The Independent®


Pet Services

Pet Services

Set Your Funeral Home Apart with a Pet Remembrance Service By Nancy Weil, OGR Member Resources Director


hink this has nothing to do with your funeral home since you are not a pet funeral provider? Think again. Offering this service can gain your funeral home free publicity, forge partnerships within your community and build a list of grateful humans who see your funeral home as a supportive place to turn to. Best of all: OGR has already done most of the work for you! “Fur”ever in My Heart Pet Remembrance Service is a templated service that comes with everything you need to host this event.

Grow your contact list the same way I did. I wrote and officiated this annual service for many years when I was working at cemeteries and funeral homes, and was able to amass a mailing list of over 600 community members who attended the service over that time. Every single name on that list had met the staff, seen the facility and left with contact information in their hand. Most attended the service year after year and created a bond with the business. Build relationships with community pet organizations by allowing them to have an informational table at your event. Ask them to help you promote the service to the clients they serve and to their mailing lists. Pet rescues, boutique pet supply stores, doggy day cares, boarding facilities and veterinary hospices all can be invited to attend your event.

Adobe Stock

They know by joining together, a level of acceptance, understanding and healing takes place that can be found nowhere else. Your funeral home will receive the follwing items from OGR: • a templated service filled with poems, songs and ceremonies • templated invitation • flyer sample • press release • program book sample • service planning and set-up advice • marketing advice

Pitch your service to local media outlets. Many of To learn more and get started, call Nancy at (512) those producers and reporters have pets of their own 334-5504, ext. 304, or email her at! and can relate to the heartache of losing a beloved “fur baby.” They will welcome you on their radio show or interview you for the nightly news broadcast to help reach others in the community who are hurting from this disenfranchised grief. Printed magazines, newspapers and even church bulletins will feature your event. 6 | Spring 2022

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To become a Thumbies® Partner, contact | The Independent®


Grief Support

Grief Support

Easily Offer Support Following the Funeral “Thank you for offering such a wonderful resource for people like myself who are grieving to know I am not alone in this journey. I look forward to our next grief support group meeting." - Ann


magine offering the families you serve the opportunity to feel the way Ann did after attending her first Hope After Heartache grief support group. Imagine their appreciation to your funeral home for offering personal support following their loved one’s funeral that goes beyond a list of resources. Now imagine that you can offer this with little staff time, no need for expertise in the grieving process and at no charge.


Fully staffed and ready for your sensitive calls

This is OGR’s Hope After Heartache virtual grief support group and it is simple to get started. We will mail you a templated letter to send to every family you serve with the login details for the monthly grief support group that meets on Zoom. Once they attend a meeting, they will be invited to a second monthly meeting along with a private Facebook group page where their connections can continue between sessions.


a fter heartache

The group is led by Nancy Weil, who serves on OGR’s staff and has led grief support groups for almost 20 years. She is a Certified Grief Management Specialist, Funeral Celebrant and well qualified to lead each session. She shares coping tools, leads facilitated discussions and witnesses the healing and support that takes place every single time. Your funeral home also has access to blogs, videos and other content for your website. Templated community remembrance services are also yours for the asking along with marketing support to get the word out about your program. There is no time to wait! Join over 40 of your fellow members and offer a grief support program that will leave the families you serve sharing with you that, “After the meeting, I felt a little less alone in what I’m going through and this morning I felt a drop of hope."

1-800-868-9950 8 | Spring 2022

Check out fellow member Kevin Stockham's website,, to see how OGR's materials can be placed onto your funeral home's website, turning it from a template into a truly unique resource.



Online Reviews: The Good, the Bad and the Undeserved By Nancy Weil, OGR Member Resources Director “It’s hard to deal with a loss of a loved one when cops are sitting here with radar guns. Thanks for the consideration guys!”

Even fewer respond to the posted reviews. OGR member funeral home Veterans Funeral Care developed a plan to increase their reviews and went from six to almost 100! What did they do? They asked. Then his is an actual Google review I recently found they responded. They worked their plan. Best of all, the along with a one-star rating. The funeral home is reviews that were posted were personal and filled with being blamed for where the police decide to set staff names and details. Each review has a response up a speed trap. The review brought down the funeral from the owner that contains additional details letting home’s overall rating on Google over something the anyone reading it know that each person the funeral funeral home had absolutely nothing to do with. I have home takes care of is unique and memorable. This is seen similar complaints about floral arrangements, what you want to have for your reviews as well. cemetery issues and death certificate delays. You can’t control (or remove) what the public posts about your When was the last time you took a look at your online reviews? Are you ready to get your number of reviews business, so what can you do? up? Eager to engage with satisfied clients in an open Respond, bury, elevate. First, respond to each review public forum? Let OGR help you. We will send you a letting others know that the situation was not under templated request email with links that will take every your control or responsibility. Next, bury the review family you email it to directly to your funeral home’s by getting lots of new, positive (dare I say "glowing"?) review page. reviews. By doing this, the negative review will be difficult to find and your overall rating will be elevated quickly. Email Nancy at to get a


As part of my job with OGR, I spend quite a bit of time looking up funeral homes and going to their websites. Most businesses have fewer than 10 reviews on Google.

personalized email template asking the families you've served to leave you an online review.

OGR presents

Veterans Funeral Care Workshop a two-part series that will open a new client base and forever change your business Live Pre-conferenceWorkshop & in the Learning Library Learn more and register at | The Independent®


YP Spotlight

YP Spotlight

Young Professional Spotlight: Brittany Lawrence Teaster Brittany Lawrence Teaster is a 37-year-old funeral

director and office manager at Boone Family Memorial Home in West Jefferson, North Carolina.

How long have you worked in funeral service? I have worked at Boone Family Funeral Home for 11 years.

Why did you begin working in funeral service? My family owns the funeral home. I was a medical assistant even though I had a great interest in the business. I began as a funeral and office assistant for nine years and, loving my job, I decided to proceed in getting my director's licenses. I have now been licensed for two years.

What is the most rewarding part of your occupation? The sincerity of the hugs, gratefulness and appreciation Brittany Lawrence Teaster, 37, is a licensed funeral director at OGR member that I receive after a family has been able to say good- firm Boone Family Memorial Home in West Jefferson, N.C. (submitted bye to their loved one. Most of all knowing their wishes photo) were honored with dignity. At the end of the day, I know and I’m very proud when I am able to help the families I have given my best to try and ease the pain in each with decisions at some of their most grief-filled moments. family.

What are your professional goals?

What are some important/notable trends that you have noticed in funeral service?

To advance in all areas of the funeral industry and Cremation is a noticeable change in our society, especontinue our family business. Also, to be an encourage- cially within the last five years at Boone Family Funeral ment to other young people who might hold an interest. Home.

What are you proud of that you have achieved How do you spend your time outside of work? Is there anything in particular that you enjoy so far during your career in funeral service? doing? My greatest moment was receiving my director’s degree!

Then learning to work with all different personalities in I spend a lot of my spare time outdoors, working in moments of grief. Sometimes that can be a great hurdle our yard and especially my flowers. Kayaking has been 10 | Spring 2022

YP Spotlight

YP Spotlight

a favorite thing of mine. There is nothing like floating the river for the day to clear your mind. Family is the largest part of my life, so my husband and I never miss a chance to involve them in our everyday activity.

What are three of your personal goals? My three personal goals are quite simple. My first would be achieving my preneed license, which is such a vital part of funeral service. Another would be stepping out of my comfort zone. I think day-by-day we tend to get very passive with schedules always being the same. When the opportunity arises, I look forward to accepting the challenge. Thirdly would be to live in the moment and enjoy life.

Teaster and her husband (submitted photo)

What is one thing that you think is just “golden,” wonderful or exciting? Golden is waking up every morning, knowing I’m blessed to have a wonderful husband, wonderful job, work family and God’s guidance throughout each day.

What do you value most about OGR? The values of OGR are endless. The service I use most often is the Family Contract Survey. It allows us to recognize our shortcomings and correct them. If we receive Teaster poses with her two dogs (submitted photo) a complaint, it gives an opportunity to correct it and Who or what inspires you? build a positive trust with our client family. The positive comments always help build encouragement and confiI have been inspired in my career by my mother and dence for our staff. stepfather. They have always encouraged, taught, listened, motivated and laughed with me. OGR allows us to establish friendships with member firms throughout the country. This is vitally important What is your favorite phone app? when we need services provided from outside of our I have two favorite apps; one is Pinterest when I’m service area. We always turn to an OGR firm first. looking for new ideas for my home. Secondly, a relaxThe organization as a whole tries to ‘follow ing game of Solitaire.

What is one thing your peers would be surprised to know about you?

the Golden Rule.’ What other words do you try to live by?

All marketing starts in the hearts and minds of people. My peers may not know that I am a very organized and Find what their wants and needs are and meet them. detailed person. When I find myself stressed, cleaning “KGDS:" Keep Going, Don’t Stop! and organizing seem to clear my mind. | The Independent® 11


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12 | Spring 2022



Stand Out in a Time of Change

By Andrea Bogard LeBlanc, Bogati Urn Company


e can safely say that cremation is here to stay. With an annual growth rate of 1.5 – 3% across the U.S. and an upswing in direct-toconsumer e-commerce platforms, it’s no wonder that traditional funeral homes are feeling a financial pinch when it comes to the overall decrease in revenue per funeral.

startups that have entered the marketplace in the last few years. Smart Cremation paved the way by choosing Amazon to be the first e-commerce retailer to offer pre-need cremation plans online. Tulip Cremation, founded in 2017 and acquired by Foundation Partners in 2019, now has a growing presence in eight states. Solace Cremation, started in 2019 by two former Nike executive creative directors, raised $1.745 million in 2021 to expand into key markets on the West Coast. Although Amazon no longer lists pre-need services on their website, they do have hundreds of listings offering cremation urns, caskets, memorial jewelry and even headstones, which are marketed directly to the end consumer.

“If you look at every industry, online models are just becoming the norm,” said Mallory Greene, founder of Eirene, an online direct cremation company based in Ontario, Canada. This may be only a fraction of the way funerals are currently handled, but it’s the Gen Xers who are arranging most of today’s funerals. And that’s who savvy e-commerce companies have their sights set on when marketing their products and services. So, what does this mean for the traditional funeral home? How do you compete with the changing face Currently, online arrangements make up a small of the funeral industry and go up against the venture percentage of our $28.7 billion industry, but as technolcapitalists who are heavily investing in the cremation ogy makes way for change it’s predicted that even our industry? Your inspiration to push harder, be better traditional funeral industry will continue to evolve and and serve at a higher level are key qualities that will set change. And companies are banking on it by investing you apart from others and sustain you in the long run. in the tech side of the business. “As millennials start Adding technology into your business may help level making arrangements, I think they will be heavier on the playing field, but ultimately it’s the personal, caring the digital side,” Greene added. and empathetic service you offer that makes a differWe’ve all read about the uptick of direct cremation ence to those in your community. | The Independent® 13

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Burial Practices Tell your story Can prospective families learn enough about your funeral home through your website to know who they can trust to care for their loved one? Do you have an About Us page? Take full advantage of this space to share information about your funeral home, its history and key information about your staff. Include up-todate high-resolution photos. Are there any outside interests mentioned that show volunteering or other important community involvement? This is the perfect place to share good deeds and tell your story. It may just be your mission statement that resonates with a family in need.

does matter. It is here where Your Real Source. families learn about positive Anywhere. Anytime. experiences others have had with your staff and your service. Positive reviews help build consumer trust and confidence while you continue to provide the services that maintain that good reputation. Do they know how hard you’ve worked to strive for and keep that sterling reputation? It’s okay to ask families for reviews. It just needs to be done in a considerate and diplomatic manner, with the same approach used as when helping a family plan for the loss of a loved one.

ctly a x e d n i F u’re o y t a h w or! looking f

Embrace change

Examples of memorial jewelry, which exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic (photo courtesy Bogati Urn Company)

Get reviewed Since almost as much trust is placed in online reviews as in recommendations from friends or family members, what your reviews say about your funeral home really

The pandemic forced the funeral industry to seek alternative ways to connect with families. Lockdowns and social distancing kept you away from traditional in-person meetings, social gatherings and well attended funerals. The business of funerals changed. Instead of face-to-face meetings, you relied on phone calls, emails and texting, adopted electronic signatures and learned how to use Zoom and stream funeral services. The way you communicated was altered, and from that you learned that you could adapt to change and offer what is best, or most comfortable, for families.

Pay it forward Each year, M.E. Fisher Funeral Home in Newport News, Virginia, holds events for underserved individuals in their community. “Some of these children may not have some of the things that more fortunate | The Independent® 15


Topic Header

families may have, so we try to fill that void,” explained Mark Fischer, president of M.E. Fisher. “We want to be more than just a funeral home. We want to be your true friend.”

purchase via an e-commerce site? Are you able to compete by offering products in your showroom or on your website? Suppliers often have a link to a full catalog of urns and memorial jewelry that can easily be added to your website. Have a selection of models on Meyers Funeral Chapel in Parkville and Blue Springs, hand in different colors, sizes and materials. This will Missouri, have supported their school district’s profesallow a family to know what to expect and allow them sional studies program for the last 10 years. They to touch and hold what they may have only seen in also offer an internship through their funeral home. photos. And if your price point is in the ballpark of those offered by e-commerce retailers, you may not lose a sale. In fact, given the service you’re providing, any extra cost could be seen by a family as money well spent. Consumers have changed and will continue to change, even in the funeral profession. If you’re prepared and ready to meet those challenges, the impact will have less of an effect on your business. An online direct cremation experience cannot compete with the human touch. What inspired you to devote your career to a field where compassion and care are key qualities will ultimately continue to set you apart. Andrea Bogard LeBlanc is the founder of the Bogati Urn Company, a wholesale supply company begun in 2004 and located in Sarasota, Florida. With a B.A. in advertising and an A.S. in nursing, she has both a creative and empathetic approach to business and has grown her company from an idea to one of Todd DeMint, managing partner, recalls when founder the leading urn suppliers within Marty Meyers told him, “The most important thing to the funeral industry. She can be remember is the needs of the families you serve always reached via email at or by phone come first. If you take care of the families, the families at (941) 751-3382, ext. 1011. will take care of you.” Both are good examples of being a positive presence in your community by showing OGR members get 10% off all Bogati-brand appreciation, something that may be missing from a products for call-in or emailed orders with company that offers a remote virtual experience.

Add a storefront And finally, let’s talk about merchandising. How does your product selection compare to what families can 16 | Spring 2022

Net-30 billing. Online orders are excluded from this offer. Learn more by contacting Ken Dudek at or (941) 751-3382. | The Independent® 17


Conference 22 MAY 15 - 17


presented by





18 | Spring 2022

SCHEDULE AT-A-GLANCE SUNDAY, MAY 15 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Board of Directors Breakfast & Meeting 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Registration Table Open 12:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Pre-Conference Session: Veterans Funeral Care Workshop *limited to first 11 attendees who register 1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Study Groups 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Welcome Reception MONDAY, MAY 16 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Registration Table Open 8:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. OGR Annual Business Meeting 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Keynote Address: Moving from Panic to Purpose with AmyWaninger 10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Networking Break 10:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Defending the Truth: Embalming, Social Media & Bias sponsored by with Dominick Astorino 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Networking Lunch 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Reimagine Your Business with Mary Russell 2:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Networking Break sponsored by 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Ideas Exchange 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Golden Circle Celebration Dinner sponsored by TUESDAY, MAY 17 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Registration Table Open 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Breakfast 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. The Innovation Challenge: Shaping the Future for Independent Funeral Homes with Maria Meschi 11:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. Break 12:45 p.m. Silent Auction Closes 11:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Closing Lunch & Panel Discussion: How OGR Members can Rethink sponsored by the Funeral Profession joint session withYP Summit attendees YP SUMMIT 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Building the Plane While Flying It with Duchess Adjei 3:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. The Leadership Gap with Cory P. Martin 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Building Your Social Media Street Cred with Bo Turner 6:30 p.m. YP Dinner (optional and not included in registration) | The Independent® 19

CONTINUING EDUCATION KEYNOTE: Moving from Panic to Purpose | 1.5 CEs Amy Waninger | Founder & CEO, Lead at Any Level, LLC Monday, May 16 | 9:00 a.m.

Your industry is changing more rapidly than ever before, bringing a barrage of discussions about disruption, agility and resilience. Professionals who adapt quickly can seize new opportunities and manage their careers. This session will introduce various models for understanding personal and organizational change, as well as techniques for identifying and overcoming fear, resistance and uncertainty. Participants will work through a guided exercise to prepare for a current or imminent change, and leave with an action plan that puts you in the driver’s seat.

Defending the Truth: Embalming, Social Media & Bias | 1 CE

Dominick Astorino | Adjunct Professor of Mortuary Science, Worsham College of Mortuary Science & Wayne State University Monday, May 16 | 10:45 a.m.

In an age of YouTube and Instagram morticians and media bias, where do the funeral profession and the public get their information about embalming? How do we know what is true and what is biased agenda? This lecture uses well researched facts, data and science to address some of the hardest issues our profession faces today and will answer questions such as “Is formaldehyde harmful to the embalmer?,” “Are dead bodies dangerous without embalming?” and “Isn’t embalming bad for the environment?”

Reimagine Your Business | 1 CE

Mary Russell | Professional Development Manager, Matthews Aurora™ Funeral Solutions Monday, May 16 | 1:30 p.m.

The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that as an industry, we can be flexible, creative and nimble when necessary. Funeral homes and cemeteries were forced to instantly reinvent their business to adapt to ever-changing requirements, all while still working to provide meaningful ways of saying goodbye. Progressive funeral homes and cemeteries are using these historic challenges to innovate – using new technologies and new ideas to serve families now and well into the future.

Ideas Exchange | 1 CE

Wendy King, CAE | Executive Director & CEO, Order of the Golden Rule Monday, May 16 | 3:00 p.m.

Attendees will have the opportunity to choose four roundtable discussions to participate in during this fast-paced community learning session.

20 | Spring 2022

The Innovation Challenge: Shaping the Future for Independent Funeral Homes | 2.5 CEs Maria Meschi | Lead Product Strategist, DORIS Research: Design Thinking for Workplace Challenges Tuesday, May 17 | 9:00 a.m.

Every leader in OGR has deep knowledge and experience about the challenges facing independent funeral homes. In this workshop, we’ll give you the tools to leverage that expertise into innovative solutions. Participants will use games and design thinking methods to unleash out-of-the-box ideas, making it fun to think of the next amazing thing. At the end of the session, participants will strategically narrow-in on actionable ideas that might be further developed in the future.

From Ideation to Innovation: How OGR Members can Rethink the Funeral Profession | 1 CE Wendy King, CAE | Executive Director & CEO, Order of the Golden Rule Tuesday, May 17 | 11:45 a.m.

YP Summit attendees will join Conference attendees for lunch and a lively panel discussion featuring:

Wendy King, CAE Order of the Golden Rule

Andrew Clayton Indiana Funeral Directors Association

Andrew Loos Heartland Cremation & Burial Society

Jamie Meredith C&J Financial

Sara Thompson Indiana Funeral Care

YOUNG PROFESSIONALS SUMMIT Building the Plane While Flying It | 1 CE

Duchess Adjei, MSC, MA| Head of Internal Communications, Beckman Coulter Life Sciences Tuesday, May 17 | 2:00 p.m. What do you get when you mix empathy, planes, and an appetite for prosperity? You get genuine leadership. “Building the plane, while flying it,” is a common phrase that many of us know all too well. There is no “one size fits all” style for leaders. In a nutshell, leadership is complicated, messy and ever-changing. When we think about leadership, it has been our parents, guardians and those we’ve looked up to who have been the trailblazers for our first glimpse into leadership. And yet we also recognize that, respectfully, we may have a new vision or trajectory toward positive change for our brands. The pressures or opinions from stakeholders may make it challenging to | The Independent® 21

focus and drive toward success. There’s an exciting paradigm shift occurring. We’re leading brands, while at the same time doing the work –and that can be challenging. That’s why we’re going to talk about it! Prepare for take-off in this fun and interactive session where we will seek to harness your power of leading your brand, using empathy and adapting your leadership style for the perfect (and sometimes imperfect) situation! Your boarding pass is waiting…

The Leadership Gap | 1 CE

Cory P. Martin, MPA, CAE | Owner & CEO, Mission Control Tuesday, May 17 | 3:15 p.m. Often, mid-level leaders are still functioning as frontline staff. They can manage the business function just fine, but when it comes to leading people, they are not sure what they should be doing differently to be effective in their new roles. As a result, senior leaders feel overly responsible for numbers and on-the-ground results and micromanage their second line far more than they should. This leaves middle managers feeling a lack of confidence when it comes to their own decisionmaking capability. The resulting paralysis, or leadership vacuum, hamstrings the organization’s agility and flexibility. During this session, participants will gain a better understanding of specific leadership skills they need to develop to instill the confidence of those above them and function as a true leader in their company.

Building Your Social Media Street Cred | 1 CE

Bo Turner | Marketing Director & Co-Founder, BoCo Collective Marketing Tuesday, May 17 | 4:30 p.m.

Social media started out as a way to connect people. Today it has become a go-to destination for businesses. You can’t afford not to have a social media presence - and not just any presence, but rather one that consumers will trust. Learn actionable takeaways you can use to manage your brand's online street cred.



Chris Miller and Jamie Wieting were chosen by the Board at its January meeting to serve as its President-elect and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively, for 2022-23, and Geri Oliverie has already been approved by a vote of OGR's membership to serve as a Director for 2022-24.

Kim Hunter is currently on the ballot to serve a second term, and Chase is on the ballot to serve out the remainder of Jamie's term as a Director. Each member funeral home is entitled Chris Miller Jamie Wieting Geri Oliverie Kim Hunter S. Chase Lewis to a vote. If you have not seen your President-elect Secretary/Treasurer Director, 2022-24 Director, 2022-24 Director, 2022-23 Thomas Miller Mortuary Wieting Family Funeral Oliverie Funeral Home Humphrey Funeral ballot in your email, contact OGR at Lewis Funeral Home, Inc. & Crematory Home Manchester, New Jersey Home Milton, Florida Corona, California Chilton, Wisconsin Toronto, Ontario

22 | Spring 2022

SUPPLIERS & SPONSORS SUPPLIER ATTENDEES Get some face time with these vendors in between education sessions!

SPONSORS Thank you to this year's sponsors, without whose support we could not put on such a high-quality event! | The Independent® 23

Golden Circle Celebration sponsored by

An evening to honor the excellent work done by Golden Rule funeral homes

This one-hour event at OGR’s Annual Conference in Indianapolis will include awards presentations, our annual Service of Remembrance, a celebration of milestone anniversaries, the OGR Foundation’s scholarship awards, board of directors and officer installations, and the annual business meeting. Monday, May 16 at 6 p.m. EDT

24 | Spring 2022

2022 Award Finalists CHARLES CASTIGLIA Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home Hamburg, New York


Honoring Professional Excellence

F. GLENN FLEMING Koch Funeral Home State College, Pennsylvania

Brunswick Memorial Home East Brunswick, New Jersey

STEVE WAITE Jakubs-Waite Funeral Home Eastlake, Ohio

JAMES J. MARROCCO Marrocco Memorial Chapel Clifton, New Jersey

Golden Rule ule

Community Service Award

Montgomery & Steward Funeral Directors, Inc. Pueblo, Colorado

Jakubs-Waite Funeral Home Eastlake, Ohio FAMILY CONTACT Exemplary Service AWARDS

Anderson Funeral & Cremation Service Belvidere, Illinois Beckwith Mortuary, Inc. Larnet, Kansas Boone Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services West Jefferson, North Carolina Brunswick Memorial Home East Brunswick, New Jersey Chapel of the Chimes Westland, Michigan Davenport Family Funeral Home and Crematory Crystal Lake, Illinois

Harrod Brothers Funeral Home Frankfort, Kentucky Kreidler Funeral Home, Inc. McAllen, Texas Kroeger Funeral Home, Inc. Logansport, Indiana Leete-Stevens Enfield Chapels Enfield, Connecticut Opsahl-Kostel Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. Yankton, South Dakota Russell Colonial Funeral Home Saint Clair, Missouri Schmidt Funeral Home West Bend, Wisconsin

Schoppenhorst, Underwood & Brooks Funeral Home, Inc. Shepherdsville, Kentucky Strunk Funeral Homes Vero Beach, Florida Wenner Funeral Home Cold Spring, Minnesota Wetzel Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. Hanover, Pennsylvania Wilson Funeral Home, Inc. Racine, Wisconsin Zwick & Jahn Funeral Home Decatur, Indiana | The Independent® 25

IF you want a partner who provides the tools and training to make your job easier. What is the Matthews Aurora™ Difference? Our expert sales team delivers the most up-to-date, relevant solutions to help your business grow and succeed. From I’ll Remember You®, our industry-leading cremation program, to Compass™, our proprietary business analysis tool; from our digital merchandising solutions to our innovative Professional Development curriculum, your Matthews Aurora Funeral Service Consultant has a comprehensive toolkit to help you and your staff exceed the expectations of today’s families.

Discover Matthews Aurora™ Funeral Solutions.

Please contact us at 1.800.457.1111 to be connected with your Matthews Aurora Funeral Service Consultant. 26 | Spring 2022 MAFS-9514-2022 © 2022 Matthews International Corporation, all rights reserved. MATTHEWS® and MATTHEWS INTERNATIONAL® are registered trademarks of Matthews International Corporation.

Don’t Sell Funeral Home Gifts Tribute Blankets by Karl Weisenbeck, President Funeral Home Gifts Yesterday afternoon I received a call from a funeral home owner who wanted to pick my brain about how best to offer Tribute Blankets to the families that she serves. She said that she has a sample blanket hanging in her selection room but really doesn’t receive much interest or sell too many. It’s a common story that I hear frequently and I gave her the same suggestion that I provide whenever the question comes up...

Quit selling them. The fact of the matter is that when you simply display a sample Tribute Blanket in your selection room and offer it as an a la carte at-need purchase, people typically don’t buy them. There is just no emotional connection to a generic sample. The funeral homes that are really killing it (pun intended) in terms of orders and reorders of Tribute Blankets share a common practice...they GIFT the first one. They order the blanket and display it as a surprise gift to the family at the first viewing, and then again as the focal centerpiece at the visitation and service. If you think about it, it makes sense. There’s a completely different dynamic when a family sees a beautiful woven Tribute Blanket honoring THEIR loved one (their mom, their dad, their grandma...) than there is when they see a sample in a selection room, and typically at that point other family members place orders for additional copies on the spot. Funeral Home Gifts has been providing Tribute Blankets to America’s premier funeral homes since 2009. We didn’t figure out this “gifting process” on our own. We listened to our customers who taught us what works and what doesn’t. But don’t take my word for it. Be skeptical and let me prove it to you. Reach out to me today and let me provide you with a FREE Tribute Blanket to display at your next service. Experience it for yourself in “real time” with a “real family.” See their reaction and that of everyone at the visitation and service. Then get back to me and let me know if I and thousands of our funeral home partners make sense. My contact information is below. And remember... ...all Funeral Home Gifts products are delivered next day and PROUDLY MADE IN THE USA BY AN AMERICAN WORKFORCE.


Funeral Home Gifts is the premier provider of woven and printed Tribute Blankets, custom cap panels, photo urns and personalization products to death care providers throughout North America. To learn ® | The Independent 27 more, visit our website or call us for a free sample to try at your next service. 800-233-0439.



OGR Foundation Grants Record Number of ‘Awards of Excellence’ Scholarships A record nine students were awarded scholarships through OGR’s charitable foundation this year. All demonstrated solid academic performance, community involvement and a dedication to the independent funeral service model OGR stands for. Donavin Miles of Columbus Technical College in Columbus, Georgia, won the Gold-level scholarship for $3,500. He is a part-time student with a 4.0 GPA who will graduate in December. He says he wants to be part of the "honorable legacy" of independent funeral homes' work within the communities they serve." “I am thrilled to have chosen the funeral service profession as a result of me stepping out on my calling to enter a profession that is highly respected, always required, and it is a profession in which I personally believe my special gifts were destined," Donavin said in his scholarship essay. "My desire to enter the funeral service profession is not just about a career path, but a call to serve. During my restorative arts class, I discovered natural artistic abilities with my hands that I was not aware of. I found restorative arts to not feel like

FOUNDATION doing work but instead found it satisfying and therapeutic. My desire is to advance my restorative arts skills and specialize in restoring minor to major restorative cases. My goal is to reduce closed casket funerals and give families the opportunity to have the final viewings that they deserve.” Kieron A. Keegan of Humber College in Toronto won the Silver-level scholarship for $2,000. Kieron is a full-time student with a 4.0 GPA who expects to graduate in June. He currently works as an office manager and funeral director intern at a funeral home in Ontario. He says he likes the independent funeral home model because "[b]eing able to make decisions based on what is right versus what generates the greatest profit margin is of utmost importance to me." "During my career as a Funeral Director, it is my hope that I can continue to wake up every day knowing I will help someone," Kieron said in his scholarship essay. "Most times I do not know who I will help or how I will help them, but it gives me a great sense of pride to be trusted to be the person called upon in their time of need. Families entrust Funeral Service Professionals with something more valuable than money or gold, they trust us with their loved one - a sacred trust that must never be broken. My commitment to the families

28 | Spring 2022



I am called to serve, as well as those who have selected another establishment, is complete honestly, fairness and transparency in all interactions, at all times."

All told, the Foundation gave away $10,000 in scholarships to nine deserving mortuary school students this year. That's more students than the Foundation has ever This year's Bronze-level scholarships, worth $1,000 been able to help in a single year before and double the each, went to Rae Guntz of the University of Minne- amount of money, thanks to the generosity of OGR's sota Twin Cities Program of Mortuary Science, and members. Joyce Howard of John Tyler Community College in Chester, Virginia. The foundation also awarded five scholarships worth $500 each to: • Daniel C. Bowman, Mid-America College of Funerary Service | Jeffersonville, Indiana • Rachel Dam, Humber College | Toronto, Ontario • Katie Gochanour, Milwaukee Area Technical College | West Allis, Wisconsin • Courtney Richards, American Academy McAllister Institute | New York, New York • Madeline Stoneman, Humber College | Etobicoke, Ontario

The OGR Foundation is a registered charitable organization under IRS Tax Code 501(c)(3), making all donations fully tax deductible as a charitable donation. Support the future of funeral service by donating an item for the Silent Auction at OGR's Annual Conference. Email for details, or make a cash donation at


Thank you to our generous donors from the past quarter

GOLD LEVEL ($1,000 or more)

Anita M. Greene given in memory of Cliff Greene

Ben Underwood Schoppenhorst Underwood & Brooks Funeral Home Shepherdsville, Kentucky

Make your tax-deductible donation at | The Independent® 29

30 | Spring 2022

Happy Memorial Day By Jim Rudolph,Veterans Funeral Care


ou may see it in ads or on social media posts. I saw it in the newspaper for a local mattress company with a holiday sale announcement. It is the three words that anger me the most: "Happy Memorial Day." I read those words and I can feel my blood pressure start to rise. What exactly is “happy” about a day set aside to remember those who gave their lives in service to our country? How must this affect those veterans who served alongside a fellow marine, soldier, airman or sailor who did not return home from battle? What about all of our Gold Star families who are anything but “happy” every Memorial Day? When you “talk wrong,” you out yourself as "not authentic.”

have learned everything I could about military culture. I know the ranks of each branch, can decipher a DD214 like a pro and can share stories about the veterans we have served to anyone who will listen. My entire staff knows to ask if a visitor to our funeral home or a phone caller served in the military. We make it a point to find out, for with this simple conversation starter we can begin to create a relationship built on admiration and respect.

As we approach yet another Memorial Day, what is your funeral home doing to recognize this somber day? Are you participating in a local event? Do you run an ad or post on social media a “We Remember” message? Is there a way to reach out to Gold Star families and let them know that you care? Perhaps place a wreath at a When I see insensitive ads like this, I know one thing local war memorial monument? with certainty: whoever wrote and approved it is not a veteran or from a military family. As funeral directors, As May gives way to June it is time to start planning for it is imperative that we serve those who have served Veterans Day. This is a day that celebrates all who have with a level of honor and respect that is sincere. It is in served in our U.S. Military. Find out what is happening our authenticity that we gain their trust and their busi- in your area and get onto that planning committee and ness. There is a saying that goes, “People do business take part in an event on Veterans Day. Host an event with those they know, like and trust.” For veterans and for veterans at your funeral home that week. Welcome their families, it is the final piece of that which rings them into your doors with a free lunch or even just a true. If you want to serve more veterans, you have to cup of coffee along with some conversation. want to serve more veterans. Veterans Funeral Care always participates in our I have built my career on this. For the past 20 years I local Veterans Day service. One of my pre-need staff | The | The Independent® Independent® 31

Veterans members takes the time to look through her files and determine who is a veteran who has either purchased their pre-need or has asked for pre-need information from my funeral home. She then calls each one and thanks them for their service and invites them to attend the Veterans Day event. That’s it. No sales pitch. No trying to make an appointment to “close the deal.” Just a simple “thank you” and “please come.” She has told me they are surprised and pleased to receive this phone call.

Veterans It is all about how you honor veterans. Not with a slick ad or sales pitch. You do it every day in the way you speak with them, in the way you treat them, in the way you spend time to understand their story and in the way you set-up their funeral service beyond the expected military honor guard and flag presentation. If you are able to authentically “talk veteran," they will respond and the best way to do that is to never, ever, ever utter those three dreaded words, “Happy Memorial Day.”

When honoring veterans, never use the phrase "Happy Memorial Day" as it is not a "happy day" for any veteran or Gold Star family. Rather, find a way to get involved in a community event, host your own event or lower flags at your funeral home to half-staff as a show of respect. (photos courtesy Adobe Stock)

As the owner of the funeral home, I am proud of her for representing my funeral home in this way. She has had some great conversations with our veterans and, yes, she has also had some follow-up appointments because of it. However, that was a borrowed benefit and not the reason for her calls. Her sincerity showed and they responded. It seems like big corporations that have sales goals push their sales through a pitch, especially around certain dates. “Because you are a veteran, we will give you a free urn…but you must come in today.” Urgency. Deadlines. It’s about their needs and not about the veteran and it is apparent. Offering an incentive to veterans is absolutely fine, but only if it is available every day of the year. There is nothing nicer than giving a veteran family a flag case with an engraved plaque with their loved one’s name on it. You can offer a discount on certain services or items to veterans or gift the family a patriotic item to remember their loved one. 32 | Spring 2022

Jim Rudolph lives in Clearwater, Florida, but grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. He started his career in 1980 working at a local funeral home. In 2000, he founded Veterans Funeral Care - the nation’s first funeral home exclusively serving veterans and their families. Through its provider network, VFC now provides services in 16 states.

Learn more from Jim on how to serve and engage veterans by attending his preconference session or taking his workshop in the OGR Learning Library at Questions can be sent to

Hey OGR Members! Do you know how to

“SPEAK VETERAN?” Want to learn how tribal marketing is essential when trying to reach veterans?


Become the Go-to Funeral Home for Veterans Attend a live workshop with Jim. Pre-conference session May 15 • 12:30–4:30 p.m. Also available in the Learning Library.

Learn how to connect with your veteran community! The Provider Network Veterans Funeral Care takes great pride in serving our Veteran community. Veterans Funeral Care trains and certifies mortuaries and funeral home providers across the country with the highest standard in mind.

For Veterans and their families 830 N. Belcher Road • Clearwater, FL 33765 ©adfinity®

(727) 524-9202 Serving Veterans and Non Veterans Since 2001

Jim Rudolph of Veterans Funeral Care and OGR member will teach you to better| understand the®veteran The Independent 33 community and their families.

34 | Spring 2022 Rocky Balboa statue in Philadelphia (Sean Pavone photo via Adobe Stock)

Montage Your Change Journey By Amy Waninger, Lead at Any Level, LLC


re you facing a tough challenge or change at work? You might get frustrated if you expect steady progress or quick resolution. None of us is going to glide smoothly from start to finish. So, what do you do when you hit a rough patch? Your answer can mean the difference between success and defeat. Change your perspective to realize you’re collecting footage for your montage.

so that you felt the whole transformation take place at warp speed. Think about how many hours of planning, rehearsal, costumes, makeup, raw footage, B-roll, retakes, camera angles, animation, sound effects, and editing went into create your favorite movie montage. All of that for less than three minutes of concentrated storytelling!

The montage is one of my favorite cinematic storytelling devices. A montage is an edited series in a movie wherein a main character advances through scenes in quick succession. In the best montages, we watch the character transform from awkward novice to confident badass, while a catchy pop tune engages our emotional response.

While you’re doing the hard work – when this whole ordeal seems like it will never end – remind yourself that you’re collecting footage for your montage. The planning, practice, pain, and frustration are all fodder for the montage memory you will someday have of going through this challenge. So, pick a catchy soundtrack and get started.

Famous montage examples Think about your favorite movies. In Rocky (1976), director John G. Alvidsen didn’t have the time to show us every workout and every sparring practice that built a champion; he used a montage to show incremental improvement, setbacks, and small triumphs along the way. In the 1984 bromance hit Footloose, we cringe at Willard, Ren’s best friend, who enters the montage as an uncoordinated oaf, unable to stomp to a simple beat. In a steady-but-edited-for-time progression, we witness his miraculous transformation into a teenage dance floor sensation. And in Disney’s animated feature Mulan (1998), we watch as the main character pushes her way through military training. She fails at first but slowly gains competence, ultimately overcoming the “impossible” challenge set for her by Captain Li Shang. As you read the last paragraph, did you catch yourself singing “Eye of the Tiger,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” or “Be a Man”? The songs, too, are often edited for length

Get to work!

Amy C. Waninger works with organizations that want to build leadership bench strength from a diverse talent population. She is the author of numerous books, including "Network Beyond Bias: Making Diversity a Competitive Advantage for Your Career." Amy is a Certified Diversity Professional, a Professional Member of National Speakers Association, a Certified Virtual Presenter, and a Prosci Certified Change Practitioner. Her other credentials include two degrees from Indiana University and a "World’s Best Mom" coffee mug.

Amy will be the Keynote Speaker at OGR's Annual Conference, May 15 - 17 in Indianapolis. Learn more and register at | The Independent® 35

36 | Spring 2022


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Call (888) 366-7335 to order Visit to view additional products. Copyright © 2022 Starmark Cremation Products. All rights reserved. Specific portions of Starmark products may be covered by one or more patents. Visit for more information. | The Independent® 37

The Pandemic Changed Death Rituals and Left Grieving Families Without a Sense of Closure by Natasha Mikles, Texas State University


he unexpected death of a friend and colleague to COVID-19 in January 2021 led me to start researching how American death rituals were transforming during the pandemic. My friend was Hindu, and while watching his funeral on Zoom, I witnessed the significant transformations that had to be made to the traditional rituals to accommodate COVID-19 safety guidelines.

to be a momentous cultural shift happening in America in terms of death rituals as over 850,000 Americans died from COVID-19. During this period, funerary customs dramatically shifted and, in many cases, failed to bring any comfort to grieving friends and families.

What changed in funerary rituals

In my conversations, funerary professionals described In the spring and summer of 2021, I conducted over 70 the initial chaos as funeral size had to be dramatically hours of oral history interviews with people involved in curtailed, sometimes with only one to two hours’ the medical and funerary professions, as well as griev- notice. Eventually, many began to innovate with new ing families and those who worked closely with them, technologies that allowed them to hold virtual funerals. including grief counselors, hospice workers and even Richard Davis of the Cook-Walden Funeral Home in spirit mediums. Pflugerville, Texas, described how early in the pandemic As a historian of religion interested in how different he utilized radio technology for grieving families who cultures make sense of death, I noticed what appeared could be in their cars in the parking lot, tune the radio 38 | Spring 2022

to a specific station and listen to the person giving the eulogy inside the funeral home.

died of drug overdoses brought on by the stress of the pandemic.

Some funerary directors partnered with wedding videographers whose business was suddenly upended because most weddings were canceled or delayed. These videographers found that the high-quality equipment used to produce wedding videos could as easily be put to use broadcasting a Zoom funeral.

The end-of-life work of religious leaders was transformed as well: Catholic and Episcopal last rites were performed via FaceTime, sometimes with consecrated oil being carefully administered by a Q-tip. The Jewish tradition of sitting with a body before burial – usually performed by volunteers in shifts at the funeral home – became an at-home experience. Although the volunteers, called shomer or shomeret in Hebrew, could not sit next to the body as usual, they worked on the honor system to ensure that someone was always praying and keeping the deceased in their thoughts, even while far away.

I also spoke with three spirit mediums who all described a marked increase in clients seeking postlife words from loved ones who died on ventilators. They described how anguished families sought to know that their loved one had not died alone and did not blame them for their death. One medium in particular also noted that the pandemic saw an increase in family Muslim leaders described working with local health members seeking to connect with those who had | The Independent® 39

Funeral Rituals agencies to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) death. These can include mourners going to Facebook and specialized training for those performing the full- or Instagram pages on the anniversary of the death body washing of a corpse known as ghusl in Arabic. and leaving a message about how much they miss the deceased. Online marketplaces allow for the purchase Virtual commemorations of individualized mourning paraphernalia like T-shirts These adaptations reflect a long history of transforma- or bumper stickers, and public memorials at the site of death. tions for the American funeral. Such tools thrived during the pandemic. During my research, several individuals who lost loved ones explained creating memorial items, including stickers and face masks commemorating a lost loved one, as a way to encourage others to wear masks. Virtual online communities of COVID-19 mourners adopted the yellow heart as a public expression of loss of a loved one to the pandemic in the U.S. and Europe.

Unprocessed grief Funerals and other rituals surrounding death are important to begin the grieving process. Research has found that performing rituals has a major role in alleA mourner engages in a virtual memorial ceremony (Adobe Stock photo) viating grief through increasing feelings of control and In the 17th and 18th centuries, most Americans gener- transitioning mourners to accepting their loss. Funerally prepared the body themselves and hosted the als can provide important structures for families to say funeral at home. However, by the 19th century, more goodbye that have been correlated with better grief Americans were dying in hospitals as a result of the outcomes. availability of medical care and because the corpse was believed to be carrying disease. This spurred the development of the funeral home. Individual funeral homes often personalize their offerings to the needs of local cultural or religious communities.

It felt like a parody of a funeral.

Funeral homes became most popular after embalming – a form of preservation performed by mortuary specialists – became the norm after the Civil War. The war spurred a crisis to preserve soldiers’ bodies while they made the long trip home, and embalmers would J.Z. Smith, one of the most influential theorists of relisometimes follow the military troops to accept payment gion in recent years, said that “ritual relies for its power on the fact that it is concerned with quite ordinary in advance for the procedure. activities placed within an extraordinary setting.” In Today, the funeral industry has grown to a whopping other words, ritual takes elements from the ordinary $20 billion, and embalming remains the predominant world – words, gestures, symbols, etc. – and imbues treatment for the body after death. them with extraordinary meaning. With the rise of the internet, funerals are once more We might cry or wear black clothing every day for any undergoing rapid transformations. Scholar of death number of reasons, but in funeral rituals these activities and dying Candi Cann has shown how the internet have special significance and bring a sense of closure. It gives rise to new forms of social remembrance after 40 | Spring 2022

Your solution partners for business growth and succession planning. At The Foresight Companies, our mission is to provide our clients with customized financial and operational solutions. We deliver results through our passion for the profession and the communities they serve. | 800.426.0165 | The Independent®


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Funeral Rituals is this repurposing of ordinary things that makes ritu- described assisting those losing loved ones in his own als so effective. spiritual community: “The funeral helps you to start a process of closure. But without the funerals they enviPsychological studies, too, have shown that the greater sioned, people are just getting stuck and are unable to the difference between what happens in the ritual and grieve.” “normal” life, the more effective it is for individuals. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to consider how rituals can lose their extraordinary power when our sense of “normal” is shattered and remains shattered for years. As religion theorist J.Z. Smith noted, rituals work by framing the ordinary as extraordinary. But if nothing feels ordinary, then nothing can feel extraordinary either. The National COVID Memorial Wall in London (photo courtesy Chris Dorney / Adobe Stock)

But in my conversations with those who lost loved ones to COVID-19, it became apparent that for many, the transformations in funerals and rituals of mourning failed to help them in dealing with their grief. As one individual explained to me, “I knew my grandmother would pass away sometime, but I always imagined I would be there; I never imagined I would be watching it virtually on Facebook. It felt like a parody of a funeral.” Another interviewee explained how the isolation necessary in the pandemic era fundamentally undermined the comfort these rituals could provide: “Because my family has been so terrified of COVID, we have not been able to gather together to process my mother’s death. That has been really hard for me culturally – especially in Indigenous families, you grieve together.”

Natasha Mikles is an assistant professor at Texas State University, where she teaches classes in Asian Religions and World Religions. Her research examines the intersection of popular literature and religious traditions, specifically in Tibet and China.

This article is republished from The Conversation, an independent and nonRev. Richard R. Andre, CSP, of St. Austin Catholic profit source of news, analysis and commentary from acParish in Austin, Texas, echoed these thoughts as he ademic experts, under a Creative Commons license. | The Independent® 43

Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight

Spotlight on Beau "Lac" Funeral Home & Crematorium Marianne Turcotte and Mark Muir are co-owners, managers and funeral directors at Beau “Lac” Funeral Home and Crematorium, Ltd. in Spirtwood, Shellbrook and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan with branch offices in Big River and Leask, Saskatchewan.

How was your funeral home founded, and how does it operate today? Beau “Lac” Funeral Home and Crematorium was the vision of Delores Beaulac. She opened the doors in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan in 1994 and purchased the Big River branch office in 1995. Delores is an extremely hard working lady who is still involved with the funeral home as a licensed funeral director/ embalmer, and recently received her crematorium

Beau "Lac" Funeral Home's branch office in Leask, Saskatchewan, Canada (photo provided)

open the Prince Albert location. In 2017, we welcomed Mark and Sheri Muir as business partners. Mark and Sheri had been owners of a full service funeral home in southeastern Saskatchewan for many years.

Since that time, Beau “Lac” Funeral Home & Crematorium has expanded the business by adding an intimate chapel to our Prince Albert location in 2018. In 2019 technician certification. She entered an industry, which at the time was predom- we purchased the Leask and Canwood, Saskatchewan inantly male. Delores and her son, Ed, opened the locations. In the fall of 2020 we were honored to be Shellbrook location in 2007. In 2013, Ed and his wife asked to assist Lac La Ronge Funeral Home with whatBrenda brought on Marianne and Travis Turcotte to ever services and products they require to provide the best for the families they serve in northern Saskatchewan, and in the spring of 2021 we added a state of the art crematorium, which further enhances the level of service we are able to provide families. Delores Beaulac

What is the most rewarding part of working in funeral service? Certainly, the most rewarding part of funeral service is the honor and privilege of assisting families at one of the hardest times in their lives.

What does your funeral home do in order to create a strong community presence? Do you Marianne Turcotte

Mark Muir

44 | Spring 2022

Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight service, both by way of the choice of cremation over traditional burial and in the actual funeral service delivery. In order to meet these trends, we firstly added our own crematorium. Secondly, we recognized that families are looking for unique and special celebrations that deeply reflect their loved ones. The addition of a Certified Funeral Celebrant to our team has allowed for the kind of personalized and memorable events our families seek.

Is there anything in particular that you do at work to keep your spirits high or the spirits of your staff high? Placing great value on our team members keeps morale high and we are fortunate to be able to maintain a professional yet family-like atmosphere. The inability to gather informally due to the pandemic only further demonstrated the level of closeness we enjoy as a team. We also take a keen interest in the hobbies, activities and accomplishments of our team outside of the workplace, offering our support to each other with personal endeavors.

Beau "Lac" Funeral Home's onsite crematorium (photo provided)

What are three future goals that you have in mind for your funeral home?

For the past two years, we have been voted the “Best of the Best” funeral home in Prince Albert and received Our funeral homes are able to create a strong presence in the same accolade for two of our funeral directors. We the communities we serve by maintaining a high level of would love to accomplish a “hat trick” for this award involvement with local charities and special local events. going forward! As well, our team members are volunteers of a diverse We believe that as we continue to grow as a company, group of organizations and this allows them to be visible it is of the upmost importance to treat every family we in the community as both dedicated and approachable. are honored to serve with the best service and the most cost effective options for them. Marianne and Mark will In what ways do you use technology to always run this company by our moto, “Exceptional, further the services you offer? Not Expensive." Technology, most especially digital marketing, has allowed us to greatly increase our audience. Utilizing We are brand new members to the OGR and are proud social media such as Facebook and Instagram as a way to hold the same core value of treating each family as we would treat our own. We were also pleased to see an to reach the consumer has proven especially effective. established Awards of Excellence scholarship program. What growing trends have you noticed in the Finally, we hope to encourage OGR membership with funeral service profession? How do you keep other independent funeral homes in our province.

believe that this is important?

up with these changes?

Some industry trends we have recognized and addressed are the decrease in traditional funeral | The Independent® 45

Member News

Member News

News from Golden Rule Funeral Homes Join us in welcoming 4 new members to the OGR family

Schlientz & Moore Funeral Home in Dayton, Ohio, joined OGR Jan. 5, 2022. (photo courtesy Schlientz & Moore)

Warner-Wozniak Funeral Home, with locations in Wallington and Clifton, New Jersey, joined February 25. Owner Brian Warner worked at another OGR firm over 30 years ago. At the urging of current OGR member Jim Marrocco (Marrocco Memorial Chapel also in Clifton, New Jersey), he decided to become a part of an association where he and his wife Deb could find innovative educational programs, connect with funeral directors who share their commitment to the profession and to help with their funeral home's continued growth. OGR welcomes back Twiford Funeral Homes with locations in Elizabeth City and Manteo, North Carolina. David Twiford and his sons, David, Jr. and J.J. are the third and fourth generations to run their family funeral home. A special thank you to Jim Rudolph of OGR member Veterans Funeral Care in Clearwater, Florida, for encouraging Twiford to rejoin OGR. Twiford is part of the VFC Provider Network.

Schlientz & Moore Funeral Home in Dayton, Ohio, joined January 5. Gertrude Schlientz, grandmother of current owner Jim Moore, was the first woman in the state to receive a dual funeral director - embalmer Welcome also to new student member Beyunka Davislicense. The OGR Board of Directors also offers the Hobbs, who attends Malcolm X College in Chicago, firm congratulations and best wishes on their recent Illinois. celebration of 100 years in business.

Day Funeral Home in Keyport, New Jersey, joined January 28. Owners Frank DeBlasi, Sr., CFSP, and his brother Mike DeBlasi purchased the funeral home in 2006 and are excited to connect with other members and use their member benefits to continue their funeral Congratulations to Dennis home's goal of providing exceptional service. Moore, who has purchased Fremont Chapel of the Roses in Fremont, California. This funeral home has been a member of OGR since 1963 and Dennis was employed at the funeral home prior to becoming the new owner. The former owner, Nancy Schroder, will remain with the funeral home for the next year and we wish her well as she Frank DeBlasi, Sr., CFSP, and his brother Mike DeBlasi, Jr. purchsed Day moves toward retirement.

Fremont Chapel of the Roses under new ownership

Funeral Home in Keyport, New Jersey, in 2006 and joined OGR Jan. 28, 2022. (photos courtesy Day Funeral Home)

46 | Spring 2022

Member News

Member News

News from Golden Rule Funeral Homes Pray buildsViking burial ship for Nordic fire festival Pray Funeral Home in Charlotte, Michigan, built a model Oseberg Viking Burial Ship that can be used as an urn for cremated remains. It was a special project as part of a community outreach effort at the Michigan Nordic Fire Festival. Festival attendees learned about Viking funerals and how they could use some of those traditions today.

Field appointed OBE Jeremy Field, managing director of OGR international member CPJ Field, the U.K.’s oldest funeral home, was been appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in January's New Year’s Honours List. The award is made in recognition of the support and advice he has given to the funeral sector over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the beneficial impact on bereaved families as they have sought to honor the lives of loved ones. He also helped draft government COVID-19 guidance and provided analysis on the implications of sector capacity to help guide government policy, as well as representing the industry at various government briefings.

Pray Funeral Home built a model Oseberg Viking Burial Ship for the Michigan Nordic Fire Festival in February 2022. (photo courtesy Pray Funeral Home)

Green 'Best of the Best' George Irvin Green Funeral Home in Munhall, Pennsylvania, won "Best of the Best" for funeral homes in their area as part of a community choice awards program run through their local newspaper.

Plummer featured in radio interview Terry Plummer of Plummer Funeral Services in Litchfield, Illinois, was featured in an interview on his local radio station, WSMI, discussing the challenges and joys of being a funeral director, including the financial considerations on planning a funeral and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on funerals. | The Independent® 47

48 | Spring 2022

Supplier News

OGR 2 Endorsed NewsWelcomes from OGR’s SupplierSuppliers, Network 3 Supply Partners Funeral Results Marketing Funeral Results Marketing is a digital marketing agency solely focused on the funeral profession. Just like OGR member funeral homes, Funeral Results is independently owned by Jake Johnson and Robin Heppell. We are results-focused for all service digital marketing offerings that include funeral home marketing websites, cremation arrangement website platforms, Google Ads management, SEO management and Online Reputation management. As funeral professionals and marketing innovators, we were the first to offer funeral websites on the WordPress platform, Google-friendly obituaries that were found in Google in less than 15 minutes, mobile-responsive website ahead of the Google Mobilegeddon in April 2015 and to pivot the online cremation arrangement process to capture the sale and credit card information before vital stats info.

Robin Heppell, co-owner 800.810.3595

National Mortuary Shipping and Cremation National Mortuary Shipping and Cremation (NMS) assists hometown directors with out-of-town deaths. NMS has been the funeral industry's trusted source as a full-service provider for over 40 years. We are proud to offer: • • • • • • • • •

domestic and international shipping, cremations, removal services, embalming, livery, airline transfers, flight booking, graveside services and disinterments,

as well as assistance with shipping requirements, death certificates and airline requirements. Our knowledgeable staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you service you can count on. Robin Heppell is a fourth-generation funeral director, former #1 North American preneed sales rep, CFSP, Certified Celebrant and Google Ads Certified Partner. Jake Johnson has rapidly advanced into senior leadership roles and gained respect throughout the funeral profession. He is known as an innovator, change agent and thought leader. Together, Heppell and Johnson host the Funeral X Podcast where they discuss high-level funeral profession topics and share their knowledge and expertise to help listeners get greater insights to improve funeral operations. • 10% discount on all website development, hosting and digital marketing services, including Google Ads management, SEO management, Online Reputation management • Free online presence audit for all funeral home members

Angie Berwald, Kahlen Knapik, 800.321.0185

Pristine Air Technology We clean the air you breathe. Our unique air purification kills aerosolized and surface viruses, bacteria, mold and fungus. It collects allergens and ultrafine particulate and removes dangerous gases and chemical vapors that cause headaches, nausea and health risk. • • • • • •

kills pathogens breaks down VOC removes all organic odors free of ozone or harmful EMF quiet continuous opperation no filters to replace | The Independent® 49

Supplier News

OGR 2 Endorsed NewsWelcomes from OGR’s SupplierSuppliers, Network 3 Supply Partners • low cost to own and operate • works with existing HVAC • mounts in any ceiling or wall

Just days after install, one customer exclaimed “THANK YOU! I can finally go to work without headaches or feeling sick from the chemical odors!” • Save $400 on the purchase of every Pristine Air Technologies air purification system Bill Kunde, Sales Director 203.530.7296 (direct) 800.883.9987 (office)

Red Book: The National Directory of Morticians In 1936, Carl Schmidt founded The National Directory of Morticians to provide a business-to-business platform representing relations between funeral businesses. The company now often referred to as Red Book allows for corporation, competition, innovation and increased services for the industry to utilize and offer higher value funerals to the families. We continue the original mission while evolving the platform to modern standards. The research is performed by physical visit, phone, fax, app and internet, achieving the goal of a better funeral business-to-business environment. Jack Schmidt 440.247.3561 (phone) 440.247.0164 (fax)

50 | Spring 2022

SpartaCraft, Inc. Building lasting memories. In addition to our military, SpartaCraft truly appreciates the heroes of the funeral industry. Words cannot express our gratitude to you for the caring service you provide to families. The flag cases and urns SpartaCraft builds and provides to all OGR members are the finest and most requested memorials in the United States. In addition to providing an American-made product to honor our country’s heroes, past and present, the permanence and heirloom quality of SpartaCraft memorials give the funeral provider a source of referrals for the future needs of the families you serve. Personalization is a key service we provide, so with one phone call or email to OGR Products & Services, every memorial product can be custom engraved with Laser Engraving, and/or Black-on-Brass plate engraving –– and can ship the same day! • 5% savings over wholesale prices 800.282.8044 (toll-free)

CONTACT CHANGE FOR SUPPLY ORDERS Due to changes in staffing, please direct all questions about OGR's supply partners including all order requests - to Elly Wertz at or (800) 637-8030, ext. 146.

American Made for American Heroes

Flag Cases, Urns, and Displays As America’s original flag case company, SpartaCraft takes great pride in being the federally-approved supplier of Military Burial Products to all Branches of the United States Military and to Funeral Homes nationwide Since 1984, we have taken great pride in building products that only consist of the highest quality 100% domestically sourced sustainable materials. All products are manufactured with exceptional craftsmanship, in the state of North Carolina

Flag Cases & Displays Display one or two flag cases during indoor and graveside services. Also, a great memorial display for families at home.

Military Urn Solutions Military Urns are hand-crafted using beautiful solid hardwood and offer Branch-specific Brass Medallions and/or Black-on-Brass Engraving Plate.

Flag Cases, Display Cases and Urn Soultions Truly memorialize your veteran with combined displays -a military flag case, a Shadowbox Display for medals, photos, and accolades, all designed to rest on the matching Military Urns.

Temporary Flag Case Solutions


Discount to OGR Members AMERICA’S ORIGINAL FLAG CASE COMPANY | The Independent® 51 | Toll-Free 1.800.282.8044 | Email

Supplier News

News from OGR’s Supplier Network OGR welcomes 2 Endorsed Suppliers, 3 new Consulting Group updates OGR member benesupply partners - Join us in welcoming four new compa- fit - As a benefit of OGR membership, members can now

nies to OGR's Supplier Network. You can learn more about all four on pages 49-50 of this magazine, but we want to extend a special welcome to Funeral Results Marketing as OGR's newest Endorsed Supplier. Existing supply partner SpartaCraft, Inc. has also escalated to the Endorsed Supplier level. Endorsed Suppliers must meet a set of requirements, be vetted and then approved by OGR's board of directors. No more than one company is allowed at the Endorsed level in any given category within OGR's Supplier Network. Funeral Results Marketing is now the Endorsed Supplier for OGR's "Computer, Website & Internet" category. The company is co-owned by Robin Heppell, CFSP, and Jake Johnson of Johnson Consulting Group and Menke Funeral & Cremation Center in Sun City, Arizona. They provide websites, digital marketing, SEO, Google Ads and reputation management services. SpartaCraft, Inc. is now the Endorsed Supplier for the Memorialization category. They provide flag cases and urns made in the USA specifically designed for servicemen and women. | The Messenger Company acquires Bass-Mollett Publishers - The acquisition brings together the funeral industry’s two leading stationery providers - both of which are OGR supply partners - whose combined product line, personalization options and technology solutions will create the broadest product platforms available for funeral homes. Heather Garman, vice president of sales and marketing at Messenger, will lead the worldwide efforts of both sales and service teams. All sales and customer service inquires will be handled by the respective companies at this time. To reach Messenger, please continue to call 800.827.5151 or email To reach Bass-Mollett, please call 800.851.4046. | Johnson

receive a complimentary, no-obligation one-hour consultation from OGR supply partner Johnson Consulting Group. The consultation can cover your questions in any of these four key areas: customer service, workplace, marketplace and financials. Call 888.250.7747 or email info@JohnsonConsulting. com to set up an appointment. |

Funeral Home Gifts blanket featured on American Idol - In a recent episode of American Idol, a young gospel

singer named Dontrell Briggs honored the memory of his late godmother Betty Morrison by sharing the Tribute Blanket that was presented to him by funeral directors at her service. Upon entering his audition, young Dontrell could be seen clutching the blanket reverently. When asked by judge Katy Perry what he was holding in his hands, Dontrell unfolded the blanket, held it up for the judges to see and through tears said "this is my godmother." Morrison died on April 25, 2021 of sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs in the body including the lungs and lymph glands. Funeral Home Gifts provides heirloom quality Tribute Blankets and personalization products to funeral homes throughout North America. OGR members can get a free sample to try at your next service, as well as a free blanket for every veteran and first responder killed in the line of duty. | Federated Insurance

named to National Corporate Mentoring Honor Roll - The list is put together by MENTOR, a national leader

and go-to resource on quality youth mentoring, to recognize outstanding corporations across the United States that support youth mentoring. Last year, Federated's annual Federated Challenge® raised a record-breaking $3.3 million in support of Minnesota's three Big Brothers Big Sisters® agencies and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America®. |

Want to see your company’s news featured here? OGR Supply Partners are invited to send your press releases and other company updates to Communications Director Evan Hoffmeyer at for inclusion here and on our blog at 52 | Spring 2022

Supplier News

News from OGR’s Supplier Network Passages International opens new distribution director - Sinosource International recently moved into a center in New Jersey - Four new employees will work new building in the San Francisco area so they can better serve

at the new distribution center in Somerset on top of the 20 working out of Passages' headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Funeral home customers within a 50 mile radius of the Somerset location that need adult caskets delivered within 3 days will have them delivered by a Passages employee and, for a limited time, receive this service free of charge. | ASD expands remote workforce - The company has worked to expand its operational footprint by investing in new remote work solutions. Having the ability to hire and train employees who work out of their own homes has allowed ASD to recruit staff beyond the company’s local area. As of late January, the company had staff working in seven different states with more than 120 recently hired employees located in the South. | Sinosource moves HQ, names new marketing

their expanding customer base. Along with their move, they also added a new marketing director, Jessica Hill, who is working hard to increase awareness of the Sinosource line of urns and caskets. | Hodge named exec-

utive director of revenue operations at Johnson Consulting - Jacqueline Hodge joins JCG with 25 years

of experience within the healthcare space including pharmaceuticals, hospital systems and predictive analytics serving in numerous roles throughout her career including sales & marketing, regional sales director and CEO/VP of business development. She also has global pharmaceutical experience in scientific affairs and business development leadership roles including Bayer Healthcare and Astellas Pharma US.

UPCOMING WEBINARS Upgrading Your Workforce Toolkit | 1 CE Cara Silletto, Magnet Culture April 19 | 3 p.m. EDT Members: $75 | Non-members: $125



The State of Industry Education and Why You Should Care: A Discussion on the Data, National Board Exams, and Curriculum | 1 CE Leili McMurrough, Worsham College of Mortuary Science August 30 | 3 p.m. EDT Members: $75 | Non-members: $125 The Innovation Challenge: So, Now What? | 1 CE Maria Meschi, DORIS Research November 15 | 3 p.m. EST Members: $75 | Non-members: $125



Set-up Your Business to Succeed in 2023 |1 CE Vince Roberge, Johnson Consulting Group December 13 | 3 p.m. EST $75 | Non-members: $125 ® | The Independent


Over 35 years of experience and understanding at your service. Carrier Mausoleums Construction has greatly evolved over the years: Our range of services and products has been able to adapt to the constantly evolving funeral industry. CMC Funeral and Cremation Products (FCP) division now offers a wide variety of high quality urns and religious products, some exclusive to CMC, as well as cremation parts and accessories. It is our pledge to provide our clientele with hassle-free service, easy ordering and peace of mind.

Contact us for more information: 1 866 881-7391 |

54 | Spring 2022

Above & Beyond

Above & Beyond

These select Above & Beyond comments are about members who have received outstanding comments on Family Contact surveys for providing exemplary service and going above & beyond expected service levels. These members are now eligible for the Exemplary Service Award. Learn more about the program at or by emailing

Cooper Funeral Home Tecumseh, Oklahoma Don Henson went above and beyond my expectations. Everything from beginning to end and more, he was always there for what I needed with professionalism and compassion. I was very satisfied with Cooper Funeral Home and everyone involved.


Above & Beyond


without adding to our sorrow. We appreciated the personal treatment. Marshall was thorough, patient and responsive to requests and changes. Most importantly, he followed through on all promises with precision. All staff members were personable yet respectful of family and guests. I wish we could have had more guests but that was due to COVID and we do not blame the funeral home.

Faulmann & Walsh Golden Rule Funeral Singleton Funeral & Cremation Services Home Glen Burnie, Maryland Fraser, Michigan We had a very positive experience from the moment Everyone we interacted with provided empathy, care and support throughout our experience. We could not have asked for better help and service. We were guided with honesty, empathy and care. They helped me and my family every step of the way. If I were to plan this funeral again, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Bradley Funeral Home & Crematory Antigo, Wisconsin The staff here has always been exceptional. It was exceptional this time and I don’t expect that’s going to change, either. If my family needs a funeral home, this is where we go and I recommend it to others. Jessica was super patient with us. She gave us all the time we needed to make the decisions throughout the process. Very efficient as well. The obituary was out very quickly after. We were very pleased. The service was perfect, it went exactly as planned. I would not change a thing about the funeral.

Strunk Funeral Homes Vero Beach, Florida The entire staff was exceptionally compassionate

we made the first phone call (which was on Christmas day). The receptionist was very nice and understanding. Mark V. was very pleasant to talk with and made the experience smooth. He was professional and made me feel comfortable. He drafted our mom’s obituary, which helped a lot since the passing of our mom was overwhelming. My whole family was happy with Singleton Funeral Home. We loved how we received pictures of the flowers and cards – this helped with our Thank You Cards. Everything was set up nicely. I especially liked the slide show playing during the ceremony. Getting a copy of it was lovely!

Flora Funeral Service, Inc. Rocky Mount, Virginia The two gentleman who came to pick up the body were professional, caring and compassionate. They had a peaceful, calming appearance and their smiles were very warming. The rest of the staff were the same. Lee was most comforting and guided us with a gentle hand and demeanor – another great smile. Overall, the funeral home was professional and comforting. The service moved like clockwork. We did not have to be concerned about the details. I wouldn’t change a thing if I had to do the funeral again. They did a fantastic, awesome, perfect job. | The Independent® 55

In Memoriam

Remembering Family and Friends John David Erbe, Jr.

December 6, 1973 – August 29, 2021 son of OGR member firm president Singleton Funeral & Cremation Services, P.A. Glen Burnie, MD

Jeanette L. Grissinger

May 13, 1944 – February 20, 2022 grandmother of OGR member firm owner Anderson Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services Cresson, PA

Franklin Hines

October 15, 1933 – January 4, 2022 President & CEO of OGR member firm Hines Funeral Home Hartsville, SC

Mary D. Lemon

February 9, 1925 – November 28, 2021 mother of OGR member firm president Singleton Funeral & Cremation Services, P.A. Glen Burnie, MD

Alice F. Thorson

October 17, 1937 – March 23, 2022 wife of OGR member firm former owner Thorson-Popp Funeral and Cremation Services Viroqua, WI || Spring Spring 2022 2022 56 | The Independent® 57

Above & Beyond

Above & Beyond

Celebrating Milestone Anniversaries — Firms that joined OGR in April, May & June — 90 years | April 1932

55 years | June 1967

Ford & Sons Funeral Home Cape Girardeau, MO

Flinn Funeral Services, Ltd. Rocky Mountain House, Alberta

45 years | June 1977

40 years | April 1982

Evanson Jensen Funeral Home Lemmon, SD

John B. Brown Funeral Home, Inc. Huntingdon, PA

35 years | April 1987

35 years | April 1987

Anton B. Urban Funeral Home, Inc. Ambler, PA

Brunswick Memorial Home East Brunswick, NJ

30 years | April 1992

25 years | June 1997

Bryan-Lee Funeral Home, Inc. Garner, NC

Parthemore Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc. New Cumberland, PA

10 years | April 2012

10 years | April 2012

Caldwell & Cowan Funeral Home, Inc. Covington, GA

W.L. Wilson & Sons Funeral Home Ft. Ogelthorpe, GA || Spring Spring 2022 2022 58

Advertisers Index

Advertisers Index







Access Financial Group


Chris Chigas

800.487.8220, ext. 8233

American Macular Degeneration Foundation


Chip Goehring


ASD - Answering Service for Directors


Kevin Czachor


APPI Energy


Peter Chaconas



CMC - Carrier Mausoleums Construction


Liubov Ovsyannikova

514.832.3733, ext. 216

The Dodge Company


Timothy Collison


TCollison@DodgeCo. com

The Foresight Companies


Chris Cruger


ChrisCruger@ TheForesight


Funeral Home Gifts


Karl Weisenbeck



FuneralHomeGifts. com

Funeral Results Marketing


Robin Heppell




Johnson Consulting Group


Jake Johnson



JohnsonConsulting. com

Matthews Aurora™ Funeral Solutions


Marty Strohofer


MStrohofer@MATW. com

Nomis Publications


Peggy Rouzzo



NomisPublications. com

Pristine Air Technologies


Bill Kunde



The National Directory of Morticians


Linda Pallai


Linda@Funeral-Dir. com


Skyways Media


Garry Wayne


SpartaCraft, Inc.


Mike Matthews



Starmark Cremation Products


Arie Elder




Jennifer Myers



Veterans Funeral Care


Jim Rudolph



VeteransFuneral Provider-Network | The Independent® 59

International Order of the Golden Rule 3502 Woodview Trace, Ste. 300 Indianapolis, IN 46268

Mark Your Calendars APRIL 19 - Upgrading Your Workforce Toolkit (Webinar) MAY 15-17 - OGR Annual Conference (In-person, Hotel Carmichael - Indianapolis) MAY 17 - OGR Young Professionals Summit (In-person, Hotel Carmichael - Indianapolis) JUNE - Workforce Retention (Virtual Bootcamp) JUNE 16 - Virtual Roundtable: First Responders JULY 14 - Virtual Roundtable: Hiring & Staffing JULY - AUGUST - Digital Dialogue Series: Season 3 (Podcast) AUGUST 30 - The State of Industry Education and Why You Should Care: A Discussion of the Data, National Board Exams & Curriculum (Webinar) NOVEMBER 2-6 - OGR Pheasant Hunt (In-person, Biggins Hunting Service - Gregory, South Dakota) NOVEMBER 15 - The Innovation Challenge: So, Now What? (Webinar) DECEMBER 13 - Set-up Your Business to Succeed in 2023 (Webinar)

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Supplier News

pages 52-53

New Supply Partners

pages 49-50

Member News

pages 46-48

Above & Beyond

page 55

Changing Death Rituals

pages 38-43

Member Spotlight: Beau "Lac"

pages 44-45

Montage Your Change Journey

pages 34-37

Free Grief Support Group

page 8

Memorial Day

pages 30-33

YP Spotlight

pages 10-12

President’s Message

page 4

Online Reviews

page 9

Stand Out

pages 13-17

Disaster Relief Partnership

page 5

Pet Remembrance Services

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