Lake Tahoe - Tahoe is Washoe Tribe, Native American ... In 2002, HB 2872 was
introduced to address the issues identified by the Legislative .... The beam, a
lintel - a support mechanism over a door, window or ... our view by revenue
growth which is also likely to be better than expected. .... through but didn't
K EYNEWS Vol. 21 - No. 3 / Current News and Comments from the Pennsylvania Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association / December 2009
Hello PCCFA and friends, The past several months has seen a boatload of action and activity from members of this Association. And it was a really big boat! PCCFA was asked by the House Professional Licensure Committee to participate and give testimony during a two-day hearing in Gettysburg. Day One requested comments on proposed HB 391, licensing crematories under the State Board of Funeral Directors. Day Two requested comments on HB 661 which would amend the Funeral Director Law regarding widow’s licensure. As current president, all I really had to do is sit there and look pretty; the latter not being necessarily an easy feat. However, on behalf of the Association, PCCFA past president Ernie Heffner gave absolutely thorough, poignant and edifying testimony before the Committee. You can find abbreviated versions of Ernie’s comments on pages 5 & 9 in this edition of Keynews. I thank him for those two days in addition to the countless hours he spent contemplating, researching and preparing his testimony. Outstanding job Ernie. PCCFA was also invited to host a dinner for Professional Licensure Committee members which we gladly did so. Breaking bread and sharing a drink with these legislators transformed itself into a truly effective educational opportunity; PCCFA sharing their concerns, experiences and desires for business and the Pennsylvania consumers, while the committee members explained the various nuances of their “business.” Once again, I urge every PCCFA member to develop a relationship with their local representative. Thanks to Morgan Plant for orchestrating the dinner and much of the logistics behind the hearings. In other news on the legislative front, PCCFA labored diligently responding to proposed State Board of Funeral regulations A16-4815 (irrevocable contracts) and A16-4816 (unlicensed activity). PCCFA considered both regs anti-business and anticonsumer. I could write pages detailing the work, time and consideration PCCFA and board members spent submitting comments to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC). However, an on-line peek at: www.irrc.state.pa.us/ Regulations/RegInfo.cfm?IRRCNo=2627 will give you the skinny on reg. 4815. Change the number in the above internet address to 2639 to catch up on reg. 4816. And, for now, it seems the work paid off. Both regulations, voted on approximately one month apart, were disapproved by IRRC. IRRC concluded that both regs were not in the public’s interest. Concerning the elaborate process, I found it telling when I was informed that IRRC hasn’t disapproved a proposed regulation in final form for five years. Please see Page 3 of this edition for comments about our November Death Care Industry EXPO. Finally, I’d like to welcome Ruth Seebeck to our Board of Directors. Ruth is a second generation cemeterian who, along with her husband Ed, maintains a wonderful memorial park in northwestern PA. I would encourage you to visit their (excellent) cemetery website at www.wcmpark.org to learn more about their property. Welcome aboard Ruth! Wondrous is our great blue ship That sails around the mighty sun And joy to everyone that rides along,
Dave Heisterkamp President
Pennsylvania Cemetery Cremation Funeral Association Officers
DAVID HEISTERKAMP ...................................................................... President GARY BUSS ........................................................................... 1st Vice President NEVIN MANN ...................................................................... 2nd Vice President CRAIG SCHWALM ............................................................................. Secretary THOMAS G. ROBERTS ...................................................................... Treasurer GUY N. SAXTON ............................................................ Executive Committee
Board of Directors ~ Three Year Terms Class of 2010
Class of 2011
Class of 2012
FRANK GRABOWSKI Schuylkill Memorial Park 75 Memorial Drive Schuylkill Haven, PA17972 (570) 385-2647 [email protected]
JOHN L. YEATMAN Forest Lawn Cemetery 1530 Frankstown Road Johnstown, PA 15901 (814) 535-8258 [email protected]
NATHAN BITNER Hetrick Smith Geigle Funeral Homes and Crem. 3125 Walnut Street Harrisburg, PA 17109 (717) 545-3774 [email protected]
THOMAS G. ROBERTS Allegheny Cemetery 4734 Butler Street Pittsburgh, PA 15201 (412) 682-1624 [email protected]
JAMES LENTZ StoneMor Partners, LP. 311 Veterans Hwy, Ste B Levittown, PA 19056 (610) 380-2196 [email protected]
DAVID HEISTERKAMP Pre-Need Family Services 1119 E. King Street P.O. Box 10391 Lancaster, PA 17605 (717) 394-2326 [email protected]
NEVIN MANN Johnson-Woodford Company 523 Custis Road Glenside, PA 19038 (215) 887-4538 [email protected]
CRAIG SCHWALM Letum, Inc. William Howard Day Cemetery 801 Lincoln Street - Box 7276 Steelton, PA 17113-0276 (717) 939-9809 [email protected]
GARY BUSS Arlington Cemetery - Toppitzer Funeral 2900 State Road Drexel Hill, PA 19026 (610) 259-5800 [email protected]
ROBERT C. LOMISON The Letum Group P.O Box 7276 Steelton, PA 17113 (717) 939-9809 [email protected]
TIMOTHY D. KERNAN Bedford County Memorial Park CMS East, P.O. Box 630 Bedford, PA 15522 (814) 623-6715 [email protected]
ROBERT RAE Golden Considerations 615 Green Valley Road York, PA 17403 (717) 741-9223 [email protected]
RUTH F. SEEBECK Warren County Memorial Park 23290 Penna. Ave. W. Warren, PA 16365-3617 (814) 723-1540 [email protected]
DAVID REGINA Forest Lawn Gardens 3739 Washington Road McMurray, PA 15317 (724) 941-6808 [email protected]
PAUL HENNEY Henney Family Services 5570 Library Road Bethel Park, PA 15102 (412) 831-7971 [email protected]
Past President Representatives Immediate Past President Two Year Term
GUY N. SAXTON Northampton Memorial Shrine 3051 Green Pond Road Easton, PA 18045 (610) 253-2000 [email protected]
4 Additional Past Presidents One Year Term
SAMUEL SAXTON Cedar Hill Memorial Park 1700 Airport Road Allentown, PA 18103 (610) 266-1600 [email protected]
HARRY C. NEEL Jefferson Memorial Park & Funeral Home 401 Curry Hollow Road Pittsburgh, PA 15236 (412) 655-4500 [email protected]
ERNIE HEFFNER Heffner Funeral Homes and Crematory 1551 Kenneth Road York, PA 17404 (717) 767-1551 [email protected]
GREGG STROM StoneMor Partners, LP. 311 Veterans Hwy, Ste. B Levittown, PA 19056 (215) 826-2805 [email protected]
Supplier Representative JIM MANSMANN Matthews International Corporation 1315 W. Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15236 (724) 294-9126 [email protected]
Other Stockholders Committees, Assignments Conferences & Conventions Spring 2010 Legislative…….…….……………….…Sam Saxton, Bob Lomison Fall 2010 Convention….…….................................... Gregg Strom, Frank Grabowski, Gary Buss Consumer Service Committee….…………………...……Chairman Harry Neel Ethics & Inquiry Committee….…......................................Chairman Harry Neel Executive Committee……………………………………..President, 1st VP, 2nd VP, Secretary, Treasurer, Immediate Past President Finance & Audit Committee……………………………...Chairman Tom Roberts, Gary Buss, Dave Heisterkamp Funeral Director Affairs Committee.……………………..Chairman Ernie Heffner Keynews…………………………………………….…….Chairman & Editor Dave Heisterkamp Legal Defense Fund………………………………….…...Chairman Nevin Mann Legislative Committee……………………………………Chairman Sam Saxton,Vice Chairman Bob Lomison Membership…………………….…………………………Chairman Tim Kernan (Cemetery), Bob Rae (Funeral Home), Bill Sucharski (Crematory) Nominating/Polling Committee…………………………..Chairman Ernie Heffner with all Past Presidents PCCFA Website – www.PCCFA.com.................................Chairman Nevin Mann
Association Manager ROBERT F. STEWART 100 S. 21st Street Harrisburg, PA 17104 (717) 236-9970 (F) 238-2799 [email protected]
Lobbyist MORGAN PLANT Morgan Plant & Associates 322 S. West Street Carlisle, PA 17013 (717) 245-0902 [email protected]
Real Estate Commissioner JACK SOMMER Prospect Hill Cemetery 700 N. George Street York, PA 17404 (717) 843-8006 [email protected]
Thank You Expo Suppliers and Exhibitors Suffice it to say that PCCFA's November Death Care Industry Super Expo, held at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, was a success! The sharing of ideas, dissemination of information and exposure to the best Industry Suppliers made it enjoyable, educational, business-smart and worthwhile. PCCFA offered greatly discounted costs for Suppliers, free admission to PCCFA members and invitees, informative seminars, and free CEU's for hundreds of licensed funeral directors. Overall, Expo visitors and Exhibitors alike were very pleased. If you were able to attend, congratulations and thank you. If you missed it, please consider the next big event for the sake of your business and the consumers that you serve. PCCFA would like to favorably acknowledge the Expo Suppliers and Exhibitors who made this event possible: Withum Smith & Brown, P.C. -- Willow Tree Casket Company -- Wilbert Funeral Services -- Vast Data Concepts, LLC (Webcemetries.com) -- Vantage Products -- Triple H Company -Timberland Urns -- The Sides Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Inc. -- The Roosevelt Investment Group -- SVE Portable Roadway Systems, Inc. -- SRS Computing -- Shiva Shade -- Riviera Tailors Ltd. -- Pontem Software -- Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science -- Pet Services Advisors -- Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission - Pennsylvania State Board of Funeral Directors -- Pan-Pacific Paper Casket Company -- Nelson Granite -- Mid-Atlantic Contractors, Inc. -- Messenger -- Merendino Contracting -- Memorial Business Systems -Meadow Hill Corporation -- Matthews International Casket Division -- Matthews International Bronze Division -- Lincoln Heritage Funeral Planning -- Kryprotek -- Johnson-Woodford Company -- International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association -- Inman Shipping Worldwide/Omega Assured Return Plan -- Ingram Construction Co., Inc. -- Holland Supply -- Heritage Coach -- Hainsworth USA, Ltd. -- Grever & Ward, Inc. -- Golden Considerations, Inc. -- Genesis Systems, Inc. -- Geese Police -- Funeral Home Gifts.com -- Funeral Data Manager -- Franklin Wrap, LLC -- Forethought Financial Group, Inc. -- Family Bronze Company -- Ensure-A-Seal -- Elliott Urn & Supply Company -- Destiny Casket -- Cold Spring Memorial Group -- Cherry Valley Tractor Sales -- Cemetery Funeral Supply -- Batesville Casket Company -- Aurora Casket Company -- Associated Paving Contractors -- Ameriserve Trust and Financial Services -- Affinity Caskets -- Star Granite & Bronze Company PCCFA would also like to thank Ingram Construction Company for sponsoring a coffee break. Finally, thank you Gregg Strom and Paul Henney and a special PCCFA standing ovation to Association Manager, Bob Stewart, and CEU coordinator, Ernie Heffner, for their extensive work, energies, efforts and innovations. Having conceived the model, worked the brainchild and delivered the goods, these gentlemen walked away tired, for sure, but also with some ever-so-minor tweak-ideas here and there to make our next Expo even better!
Repeat After Me Tautological phrases 1. Cheese Quesadilla - Quesa is Spanish for cheese. 2. Monsoon Season - Monsoon is derived from Arabic Mawsin, or "season." 3. Koi Carp - Koi is Japanese for carp. 4. Rio Grande River - Rio Grande is Spanish for big river. 5. Lake Tahoe - Tahoe is Washoe Tribe, Native American for lake. 6. Chai Tea - Chai is Hindi for tea. 7. Lukewarm - Luke is Old English for warm. 8. Sahara Desert - Sahara is Arabic for desert. 9. Fava Bean - Fava is Latin for bean. 10. La Brea Tar Pits - Brea is Spanish for tar.
Fireworks at Cemetery A western Pennsylvania city came under fire for launching fireworks celebrating the city's 50th anniversary from a cemetery. Lower Burrell City residents were upset after learning 1,500 fireworks were launched from a vacant section of St. Mary's Cemetery, which is privately owned. Cemetery officials said the city got permission, and organizers insist there was no disrespect intended and no damage done to graves. Organizers said fireworks crews were careful not to walk on graves, which were covered to protect them from debris. Some flowers and flags were temporarily removed to make sure they weren't damaged and replaced shortly after by cleanup crews. Lower Burrell is about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
On-line Purchasing Do you make purchases on-line? If so, before completing your transaction, google "promotional codes" and the store you're purchasing from (e.g. Promotional Codes Target). Most often, you'll find promo-codes that, like coupons, can be used to get anything from free shipping to discounts of 10 to 25%! Donate half your savings to PCCFA!
Legislative Hearing: Widow Licensure Testimony of Ernie Heffner, Past President, PCCFA HB 661 On behalf of the Pennsylvania Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association, it is my privilege to advise the committee that the association has no objection to HB 661. In fact, HB 661 brings to light just one the archaic issues in the current Funeral Director Law enacted in January 1952. In the 1994 Legislative Budget & Finance Committee Report (the “1994 Report”), the inadequacies and injustices of the Funeral Director Law were identified, including the very issue HB 661 seeks to correct [see Volume I, page 157-165 of the 1994 Report, copy available at www.LBFC.legis.state.pa.us]. The recommendations for a comprehensive overhaul of the statute were endorsed by the Funeral Board members at that time. I encourage you to read the 1994 Report. In 2002, HB 2872 was introduced to address the issues identified by the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee. HB 2872 was comprehensive legislation but was met with strong opposition from certain licensees who seemed to have attained a regulatory capture of the Funeral Board, a control factor pointed out in the 1994 Report. Ultimately, there was no progress. In 2004, as the result of the Funeral Board’s attempt to deny consumers the right to choose irrevocable pre-planning agreements, a licensee sought relief in Commonwealth Court. Ultimately, Commonwealth Court, in an en banc decision known as Bean v. Department of State, State Board of Funeral Directors, 855 A.2d 148 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004), appeal denied, 584 Pa. 696, 882 A.2d 479 (2005), found against the Funeral Board and in favor of the licensee. In 2005, in an unrelated matter, four plaintiffs sought relief from the Funeral Board’s efforts to violate the commercial free speech rights of licensees, rights that are protected by the U.S. Constitution. The Court found in favor of the plaintiffs and the Commonwealth reimbursed $55,000 in legal fees. In 2008 as the result of a complaint filed in 2003 in Common Pleas Court by a licensee alleging defamation and contractual interference by parties that included a member of the Funeral Board, the Commonwealth ultimately paid $150,000 to have the Funeral Board member excused from a civil matter. The Commonwealth also incurred over $70,000 in legal expense in this matter when it engaged an outside law firm for an appeal which failed, the net result of which was an adverse impact to all boards under the Bureau of Professional & Occupational Affairs as the final ruling, upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, allowed for the depositions of investigators and prosecutors in civil matters. In 2008, another complaint by more than 30 plaintiffs was filed in Federal Court and again against the members of the Funeral Board and again for violating the U.S. Constitution. This most recent complaint includes more than 100 pages, exclusive of exhibits, supporting fourteen counts and seeks to address all the issues that were buried subsequent to the 1994 Legislative Budget & Finance Committee Report. In fact the ownership restriction HB 661 seeks to address is a part of one of fourteen counts currently addressed in the Federal complaint. HB 661 is an appropriate step toward the elimination of just one of the importunate realities of the archaic Funeral Director Law, a law which has resulted in vacillating interpretations by the Funeral Board and subsequent litigation due to inadequacies, inconsistencies and U.S. Constitutional violations in the current Funeral Director Law, all of which along with recommended changes are fully addressed and described in the 1994 Legislative Budget & Finance Committee Report. Respectfully Submitted, Ernie Heffner Past President, PCCFA President, Heffner Funeral Chapel & Crematory, Inc.
FTC Nixes RoboCalls Beginning in September, telemarketing companies need written permission from consumers in advance in order to solicit them through automated pre-recorded telemarketing messages, sometimes called robo-calls, the Federal Trade Commission reported. Even people who have not signed up for the federal Do Not Call registry, as well as those who have done business in the past with the solicitors, are protected from unwanted automatic calls. FTC officials said the agency had targeted robo-calling because the practice seemed to particularly annoy consumers, as there was no way for them to complain to an operator. "People were telling us they found robo-calls more harassing and disturbing than calls from a live person," said Lois Greisman, the FTC manager for telemarketing enforcement. The federal law still allows automated political solicitations as well as informational calls about things like flight delays and school closings. Calls for debt collection, from banks or wireless companies and charitable solicitations are still allowed although no goods or services can be offered.
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Memorial Edit Three letters of the notorious f-word have been replaced with asterisks on a monument honoring Nirvana's deceased front man, Kurt Cobain. The donated granite monument features eight quotes from Nirvana songs including an anti-drug song which reads drugs "are bad for you" and "will (expletive) you up." The Aberdeen City Council, in Washington, wanted to strike a balance between discretion and adherence to Cobain's lyrics and considered removing the monument from Riverfront Park. Cobain was born and raised in Aberdeen and hung out at the park when he was growing up.
9-11 Trade Center Beam Comes to Prospect Hill A ten foot long, 3000 pound I-beam from the World Trade Center Towers in New York City has found its way to Prospect Hill Cemetery in York County. The beam, a lintel - a support mechanism over a door, window or arch way - will provide its original function on the Court of Valor; a black granite memorial to York County’s veterans that was dedicated in November. Until this past September, the beam, along with hundreds of others, had been stored at a hangar at JFK International Airport. Jack Sommer, Prospect Hill Cemetery’s president and past-president of PCCFA, said the process of getting the beam is a lengthy one, applying for the beam more than a year ago. Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who oversees 9-11 cases, had to approve the beam’s release since it is still technically evidence. The Port Authority, which controls the steel and other objects including pieces of clothing and pins from the towers, has selected some pieces to be part of a permanent 9-11 memorial, according to Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. However, the Port Authority hopes other pieces can be distributed to appropriate public memorials across the country. So far only five objects have been released, including the I-beam now at Prospect Hill. The beam, concrete and bent rebar still filling its sides, laid on a flatbed trailer atop an American Flag and was unveiled at a memorial ceremony in York and later, at Prospect Hill Cemetery on the 8th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. “I consider it to be a gift from the people of New York,” said Jack Sommer. After the ceremony, fire fighters, sheriff’s deputies, veterans and others stepped forward in the drenching rain one and two at a time to lay a hand on the concrete, say a prayer, reflect and remember. In November, with an attendance estimated at between 700 – 800 people, Prospect Hill dedicated the Court of Valor - an arch with 13 foot high black granite columns - at the cemetery. The arch contains 162 names of York veterans who were awarded valor medals from the Civil War to present day. “Hopefully, this will be a reminder that the people who go into a combat zone, go into a burning building or go in a police situation go knowing the sacrifice they make might be the ultimate sacrifice,” said Jack Sommer. The cemetery continues to maintain a non-political flag memorial for all of the soldiers who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Through that, Sommer said, he has gotten to know many of these families. Even though the connections between the September 11 attacks and Iraq were later disproved, Sommer said, many families still see the terror attacks as the event that started the series of events that led to war. Having a piece of a tower here, he said, will offer a place for reflection. “It’s a validation for them,” Sommer said.
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Historically, it is not unusual for the economy and the stock market to be out of sync with one another. The market today is not entirely unhappy with a weaker dollar, low interest rates, and benign inflation, all of which have been brought about by the weak economy. Furthermore, the high structural unemployment that we believe may persist is also not an obstacle for the market to move higher. Economic recoveries are not necessarily linear, and while the non-linear effects in a recovery can get exaggerated, we believe the direction of both the market and the economy are higher from these levels. There is evidence of replacement cycle activity throughout the economic foodchain, with better than expected corporate profits to be followed in our view by revenue growth which is also likely to be better than expected. This combination creates an environment which we see as quite positive for equities, and supportive of our pro-cyclical stance. Employment is the Achilles heel of this economic recovery. There are a few reasons to be optimistic on this front, including durable goods orders, inventory depletion, and unspent stimulus funds. Durable goods orders reported in late October were strong and remained on a trajectory of sequential improvement from the lows in Q1. US supplier delivery times have lengthened, which typically implies that inventory is not readily available for delivery to meet current levels of demand. Continuing declines in inventories, combined with the recent uptick we have seen in manufacturing activity, are events which should conspire to create an environment where hiring is back in vogue. According to recent work by Barclays, current employment levels are roughly 2% below levels compatible with the current level of output, which favors a recovery in employment. While this is positive and we do expect the employment outlook to gradually improve, we believe unemployment is likely to remain at higher levels than most of us would prefer to see for an extended period. A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that much of the federal stimulus program funds remain unspent. Wichita, Kansas was cited as an example of a stimulus recipient which had received just 2% of the funds it has been allocated. A city employee noted that projects in construction and transit are due to start over the next few months. We believe it is highly likely that similar stimulus delays are commonplace across the U.S., and that jobs related to stimulus spending are likely to be forthcoming. The US dollar has declined steadily against most major currencies over the last several years. As long as this depreciation continues in an orderly fashion, we believe it has a beneficial impact on the stock market in the near to intermediate term. A weak dollar is beneficial to US exporters, enabling them to price their products more competitively overseas vs. their foreign counterparts. Should there be a disorderly decline in the dollar, the impact on the equity market would likely be quite negative, as this would probably be associated with a sharp hike in interest rates, dealing a potentially serious blow to the economy. We do not see this as a likely scenario.
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Keynews thanks Adam Sheer and The Roosevelt Investment Group, Inc. for their on-going submission of “Financial Urnings” to Keynews. Roosevelt Investment Group 1-800-829-4337
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Legislative Hearing: Licensing Crematories Abbreviated Testimony of Ernie Heffner, Past President, PCCFA HB 391 Until we established our own crematory in 1994, our firm was like most licensed funeral homes in Pennsylvania in that we were merely a conduit, a middleman when it came to serving cremation consumers. As of this date, my firm has performed the cremation of more than four thousand deceased individuals. I believe my comprehensive background and practical experience qualifies me to offer comments about HB 391 The unintentional shortcomings of HB 391 as proposed and the unintentional disservice to consumers are as follows. 1) HB 391 as currently written channels all cremation consumer dollars to funeral directors which restricts competition to the detriment of consumers. 2) HB 391 misplaces authority with funeral board confusing if not usurping authority of the Department of Environmental Protection [D.E.P.] with its well established role and system which currently includes detailed, annual inspections and issues an operating permit to crematories in PA. 3) HB 391 fails to address any consumer concerns or consumer rights. 4) HB 391 fails to address bio-cremation through resomation. 5) HB 391 fails to address energy conservation and the minimization of pollution via latest technology and studies. If there is a sincere interest in meaningful cremation legislation, it should address consumer rights, energy conservation, pollution issues and maintain oversight authority with D.E.P., a long established, highly qualified and appropriate regulatory authority. Points to consider in drafting of Cremation Legislation: 1) Does the proposed legislation minimize pollution? Current studies indicate that operational temperatures beyond 1400 degrees actually create more pollution than those States with lesser operational temperature requirements. 2) Does the proposed legislation address energy conservation? The few States with pre-heat requirements and 1800 degree operating temperature requirements, such as the Commonwealth, have not been receptive to changing current requirements. In a comparison between a Wisconsin crematory, a State with lower operating temperature requirements and no pre-heat requirements, versus two Pennsylvania crematories, either Pennsylvania crematory used almost triple the energy and created more pollution! 3) Does the Cremation Legislation include technical compliance language? 4) Does the Cremation Legislation benefit all residents of the Commonwealth by eliminating antique, outdated equipment that both pollutes and wastes energy? Cremation legislation should provide a timeline, possibly five years, for crematories in Pennsylvania to minimize pollution and become energy compliant with modern equipment? 5) Does the Cremation Legislation establish cremation consumer rights and protections? I am willing to participate in drafting meaningful cremation legislation that would benefit all Pennsylvania residents, while demonstrating a pro-consumer, pro-environment and pro-energy commitment. Respectfully Submitted, Ernie Heffner Past President, PCCFA President, Heffner Funeral Chapel & Crematory, Inc. 1551 Kenneth Road, York, PA 17408
State Newsletters Online With the hopes of saving money and enabling a more timely distribution of information, the Commonwealth has gone exclusively to electronic newsletters. Find State Real Estate Commission and State Board of Funeral Directors newsletters at: h t t p : / / w w w. d o s . s t a t e . p a . u s / b p o a / c w p / v i e w. asp?a=1104&Q=432645&bpoaNav= Keep yourself informed!
www.pccfa.com Please remember, you may refer your customers to www.pccfa.com for important consumer information including industry terminology, consumer guides and commonly asked questions. Recent editions of Keynews are available and, for PCCFA members, find membership listings, supplier information, ads for employment, equipment for sale, bold listings, automatic linkages on important topics and more. (For the member’s section, please contact Bob Stewart at PCCFA for the password.) Watch for on-going information updates! Any ideas, suggestions and recommendations are welcomed. Please submit your input to Nevin Mann: [email protected]
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Egyptian Embalming The first written account of embalming occurred in Egypt in the fifth century B.C. when historian Herodotus recorded three methods used to preserve bodies with a natron solution. Natron was harvested directly as a salt mixture from dry lakebeds in Ancient Egypt and was used in Egyptian mummification because it absorbs water and behaves as a drying agent. Moreover, when exposed to moisture natron responses with a chemical reaction that creates a hostile environment for bacteria. Natron has been used for thousands of years as a cleaning product for both the home and body.
Mausoleum Mania The price for spending eternity above Marilyn Monroe was more than $4.6 million. That's how much the crypt directly above the actress went for in an online auction held in August. That is, until the final bidder on eBay backed out of the purchase. The eBay.com listing says the space at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery above Monroe was being vacated, making room for someone else. The listing also offered the detail that the current occupant is "looking face down on" Monroe, who was laid to rest at the cemetery in 1962. Bidding for the auction started at $500,000 running up to the final bid of $4,602,100. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier in the month that the seller was Elsie Poncher, who was putting her late husband's crypt up for auction to help pay off the $1.6 million mortgage on her Beverly Hills home. Poncher told the newspaper that her husband, Richard Poncher, bought the crypt from Monroe's former husband, Joe DiMaggio, during his 1954 divorce from Monroe. Her husband died 23 years ago at 81. After an attorney for Poncher could not resolve the outcome of the auction, the crypt went back up for sell on eBay, requiring a $5,000 deposit. No bids were received in the second on-line auction. There are no plans to move Poncher’s husband until a new occupant is found. Along with Marilyn Monroe, Westwood Village Memorial Park is the resting place for many celebrities including Natalie Wood, George C Scott, Frank Zappa, Dean Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Truman Capote, Roy Orbison, Carl Wilson, Buddy Rich, Carroll O'Connor, Burt Lancaster, Don Knotts and, most recently, Farrah Fawcett. Additional eBay auctions price other Westwood Village crypts between $55,000 and $79,000.
Dead at five! Obituaries on TV With local TV stations scrambling as advertising dwindles, it's prompting some to examine a money stream traditionally relegated to newspapers: obituaries. According to Weblogs, Inc. WNEM-TV, a Saginaw, Michigan CBS affiliate, may be the first TV station in the U.S. to air obituaries - an idea it came up with this year when several local papers started to print editions only three days a week. That cut-back worried funeral directors trying to relay information about services to residents, says Jeff Guilbert, general sales manager of WNEM. For $100, families can buy into a two-minute segment about their loved ones on WNEM, which includes an on-line obituary and televised information about the funeral home, Guilbert says. "We do a five-second opening, saying, 'Here are today's death notices'," Guilbert says. "It has a nice background, and it's a very respectful way to commemorate those who passed. Then four names pop up on the screen, and every eight seconds, another four names come up until the two minutes are over." The station has aired more than 700 obituaries since it began doing so in August, and Guilbert projects that local obituaries may be "the largest local client on-air" within two years. But for now, it's a new, untested revenue stream.
I intend to live forever. So far, so good. Comedian Steven Wright
John D. Neel Profile Name:
John D. Neel
John Neel, 86th Birthday, 2009
Position: Chairman of the Board (previously Superintendent, Salesman, Sales Manager, Vice-President and President.) Company: Jefferson Memorial Cemetery & Funeral Home Contact Information: (412) 655-4500
4. What might your average citizen not know about piloting in WWII? As we were in medium bombardment, we had no heated flying suits and no heat in the plane because we exchanged heaters for armor plates. Sometimes, I dreaded the cold over the Alps at 12,000 feet, in the winter with no heat, as much as I dreaded the antiaircraft flack. 5. Did you continue to fly after the war? No, except with a friend or two and with my sons; mostly Harry, by far the most.
1. What was your first job in the Death Care Industry? After my discharge at the end of WWII, I went back to Penn State to finish getting my degree. In September, 1946, my father came home from the cemetery and said, “I just fired the Superintendent; you are the new Superintendent.” I took charge of a ground crew of 6 or 7 men. My landscaping and horticulture classes at Penn State came in handy. 2. What did you do before that? I was a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force and pilot of a B-25 Bomber. 3. Tell us about a memorable moment from WWII. I flew 50 missions, as co-pilot and then as pilot of my own plane (A B-25, like the ones Doolittle flew in “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.”) On my 17th or 18th mission, we were almost shot down, lost an engine to flack and lost so much altitude we couldn’t get over the mountains to our base on Corsica, Italy. We had to follow the valley to the lowest pass we could find and it was just beyond a heavily defended town. We were shot at many times getting to the pass and through it but managed to crash land in friendly territory in Florence. With no hydraulics and no brakes, the plane ended up in a big ditch. Hundreds of holes covered the plane including a 4 inch hole from an 88 mm that went through but didn’t explode. The plane was scrapped. No one was hurt. One man had flack through his parachute. Another through his map case and boot and stop at his shoe. The Good Lord was with us.
John Neel, 1945, Corsica Italy
6. In addition to being a Past President of this association, describe your most significant accomplishment or contribution to the death care industry: I am also Past President of the NAC, National Association of Cemeteries, now the ICCFA (19731974). I was also the Cemetery Representative on the
State Real Estate Commission for 5 ½ years. There are quite a few former cemeterians who got their start at Jefferson, including Fred Hill and the Gabauers. We were one of the first cemeteries to sell burial vaults pre-need, breaking the monopoly the funeral directors had. This was only possible because George Ferver started Warren Vault and would sell to cemeteries. I was the first cemeterian to purchase a Pre-35 funeral corporation. I operated it for five years but was forced to sell it (spent time and money fighting the Funeral Board on this). The Funeral Board would not allow the licensed funeral director I wanted to be Supervisor because he also worked for the steel mill. Half the funeral directors in town had outside jobs so we fought the Board in Commonwealth Court. We won but it was my money versus the State. I wouldn’t be surprised if we weren’t one of the first or early ones to build an outdoor mausoleum. Back in the 1920’s, there were indoor ones built all enclosed but I don’t know of any where the crypts were not under roof. It seems intermittently we have been fighting the funeral directors for years. And now, we have a funeral home. 7. What have you seen as the biggest change in the industry? The transition from privately held Mom and Pop type cemeteries to the numerous conglomerates. There are not too many privately held cemeteries of any worth left. 8. What do you think will always stay the same? We know death is inevitable, only death rates change. Also, we will always have taxes, only the rates will change. What is true for the cemetery industry is also true for funeral homes, but not to the same effect, as there are so many more funeral homes.
Depression. We were incorporated in December, 1929. He, with others, were the pioneers. I had the pleasure of meeting Hubert Eaton. 12. What person do you admire most in your life? Again, my father, Harry C. Neel. 13. What is your ultimate personal goal? My goal has been achieved having raised four sons, each of which I am or have been exceedingly proud of their achievements and abilities. 14. PCCFA members may be surprised to know that.... I had no hidden desires. 15. What two things in life could you do without? Braggarts and most politicians. 16. If you could have chosen any other profession in life, what would it have been? I always liked mine, but an engineer. 17. A favorite quote: Will Roger’s quote: “You can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.” Plus, “There are liars, damn liars and statistics.” 18. A favorite book: Thomas Jefferson’s writings. 19. If I’ve learned one thing it’s.... Be Yourself.
9. A word to describe PCCFA? Progressive. 10. What are some benefits PCCFA brings to you? PCCFA is the bulwark between our membership and all outside influences that are derogatory to our industry. 11. What person do you admire most in our industry? My father, Harry C. Neel. He founded Jefferson Memorial Park at the beginning of the Great
John Neel with sons, Jeff and Harry
Destination: The Great Beyond Lonnie Holloway, 90, loved his ’73 Pontiac Catalina coupe so much that he decided to make it his final resting place. In September, the Saluda, South Carolina resident was buried, upright with his favorite hat on, behind the wheel of his classic green Catalina with vanity plates reading "Lonnie." Holloway had purchased the car as a retirement present to himself and repeatedly told his family and friends for years that he planned to be buried in it. And when Holloway makes plans, he obviously follows through. The funeral was much like any other funeral, except the grave was a whole lot bigger and a crane had to hoist the green Pontiac into the ground. The tires and wheels had been removed, presumably to keep any toxic chemicals from the tires out of the Rock Hill Baptist Church cemetery. Hundreds of onlookers turned out for the burial. “This is what Mr. Holloway wanted,” said the pastor who conducted the graveside service. The attendees responded, “Amen.” In addition to Holloway’s body in the front seat, the Pontiac also contained some of Holloway’s gun collection. Holloway wanted to take the guns along for the ride so that the weapons could never be used to hurt someone. Once laid to rest, the entire car was covered with a concrete slab in order to keep potential grave robbers at bay. Mr. Holloway’s cousin, Leila Dunn, says the unusual burial didn’t surprise her because Mr. Holloway was a “stylin’ and profilin’” kind of guy. Holloway and his Pontiac were buried next to his wife, who passed away two years ago.
Speeding Off to the Afterlife Donna Mae Mims, the first woman to win a Sports Car Club of America national championship in 1963, has died. And according to her wishes per PCCFA member and funeral director, Aaron Beinhauer, of Beinhauer Family Services, McMurray, PA Mims' body was seated behind the steering wheel of a 1979 pink Corvette for visitation hours at the funeral home. Known as the "Pink Lady" because of her preferred color for cars, Mims worked for Yenko Chevrolet and the company’s sports car division and started racing in 1958. Mims raced a variety of cars during her career including the Camaro, Austin Healey, MG, Corvette and Corvairs. Mims participated in the original Cannonball Run, where her 1968 Cadillac limousine was wrecked with her teammate behind the wheel. She also became known as "Think Pink," "Donna Amazing" and "Free Maui." "On the back of most of my cars I had 'THINK PINK,'" Mims, of Bridgeville, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this year. "I liked pink ever since I was a little girl." A procession of more than 60 Corvettes accompanied Mims' funeral service. The year hastens to its close. What is it to me? That I am twenty-five or fifty-eight is as nothing. Should I mourn that the spring flowers are gone, that the summer fruits has ripened, that the harvest is reaped, that the snow has fallen?
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Spring Meeting and Legislative Reception
All members of PCCFA, please PENCIL IN April 6, 2010 in Harrisburg for our annual Spring Meeting and Legislative reception. As you may recall, we are subject to the mercy of the 2010 legislative calendar which will not be published until early January, 2010. We will solidify the date for this event after that. Please contact Bob Stewart at PCCFA HQ for the finalized date.
A Mom’s Cemetery Celebration Miami television station WPLG reported that while her son was killed in Iraq five years ago, Deborah Smith insists on holding a birthday celebration at his Dade Memorial Cemetery grave. "This is a celebration of his life -- the day he came into the world," Smith said. Some people greet her with smiles, others with looks of disbelief. Most people aren't used to seeing birthday parties at a cemetery. Smith served up cake and told her son's story to anyone who would listen. Antwoine Smith, a U.S. Marine shot by a sniper, died when he was 22. He would have turned 27 this past November 3rd. Photos of Antwoine, along with his combat boots, were propped up against his headstone. Smith said she realizes it all seems a bit morbid. But she said keeping the graveside tradition helps her to cope. "I'm sure without a doubt he's going, 'Mom, what are you doing?'" Smith said. "But I think about him all the time. I struggle to move on," she said. After her son was killed, Smith joined American Gold Star Mothers, a nonprofit organization for grieving war families. She is now the vice president of the organization's Florida chapter. Thousands of families across the country come together through Gold Star to share their stories during organized meetings. Smith's pursuit of closure is a reminder that freedom comes at a price. And she understands it is not your average celebration, she said it's a way to honor her son and slowly say goodbye. For more information on American Gold Star Mothers visit: www.goldstarmoms.com
Weather Woes for New Vet Cemetery According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, in getting one of the nation's newest national veterans' cemeteries ready, Dick Kollar was prepared to do battle with nature. He got ambushed anyway. "I came to the site with a full mind's eye of having dust-control issues," said Kollar, the Veterans Affairs official overseeing the construction of the Washington Crossing National Cemetery. But instead of bone-dry conditions, since the digging began back on May 21, again and again the crews have found themselves mired in mud fights set off by a succession of serious rainstorms. Overall, this has been the 10th-wettest such period in 138 years of record keeping. Nevertheless, rain delays aside, Kollar said last week that he expected the cemetery, long a source of controversy and debate, to be open and burial-ready by mid-December. Once it is fully developed, it will be "the Cadillac of cemeteries," promised Joseph Cairone, of Cairone & Kaupp, the firm awarded a $1.5 million contract to design the site. The serpentine road system winding around emerald-green grass and sparkling white headstones will be aimed at creating "some suspense . . . some adventure," he said. The main reception building will have a stone facade to match the predominant building style in the area. That might take up to two years to finish, however, and when the cemetery opens, visitors will encounter temporary buildings more suited to a trailer park. The cemetery will be a work in progress for the next 60 years, with an ultimate capacity of 124,951 by 2072. In September, crews working for eight different contractors were busily preparing for those first burials. A field of 1,789 concrete double vaults - each to accommodate two bodies, one atop the other - had been planted atop rocky soil dating to the age of the dinosaurs. The assembled vaults gave the appearance of an aircraft-carrier deck, but eventually, they will be covered with fescue, rye, and bluegrass. The Washington Crossing facility is one of 12 new VA burial grounds under development or in the planning stages. It's not that graveyard space for veterans is wanting, the VA says; the agency is trying to locate burial places in areas with dense veteran populations. About 350,000 veterans live in the eight-county Philadelphia region, according to the VA. The VA evidently is marching against a trend: New cemeteries these days are rare, industry experts say. The growing popularity of cremations has lessened the demand for space, they say, and another factor is price. "They cost a fortune to build," said Gregg Strom, Vice President of StoneMor Partners and PCCFA past-president. The land-acquisition costs alone can be prohibitive. "I can't even think of a place in this area where someone could go and build a cemetery for a reasonable cost," he said. The government already has committed more than $19 million to the Washington Crossing project, including $10.5 million to buy the land. And the maintenance costs will never end. "A cemetery is the only business that has to service what it sells forever," said Robert Fells, of the ICCFA.
Memorial Ground Breaking After eight years of land negotiation and design controversy, ground was broken mid-November in Shanksville, PA for a memorial to United Flight 93 which crashed as passengers fought to wrest the controls from 9/11 terrorist hijackers. The $58 million memorial will feature a black granite plaza and the names of the 40 passengers and crew engraved in white marble; it will also have 40 memorial tree groves and a bell tower with 40 wind chimes. "These heroes did not cow down to fear," said U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. With the words "Let's roll" - famously uttered by passenger Todd Beamer, who helped lead the revolt - victim's relatives turned silver shovels in the earth to mark the beginning of the memorial's construction.
Act 25 Increases Fines In mid-summer, Governor Rendell signed Act 25 into law. This law amends Act 48 of 1993 by adding a provision raising the maximum fine the board imposes for violations of the licensing laws or regulations from $1,000 to $10,000, as well as authorizing the licensing boards to impose the costs of investigation. Act 25 affects all 29 boards supported by the Bureau for Professional and Occupational Affairs and went into effect on September 15. Prosecutors may recommend a board impose the maximum fine if a violation is egregious. According to the State Board of Real Estate Commission, future plans for legislation include proposals to create a statutory obligation for a licensee to cooperate with investigators and prosecutors in disciplinary matters and authorizing the boards' authority to expunge a disciplinary history of a licensee for minor violations such as failure to complete the continuing education requirement.
Stunning Verdict: 2.1 Million Dollars Couple an understandably grieving family with an acknowledged mistake by cemetery staff, throw in some conflicting testimony between the family and the cemetery and funeral director, and an astonishing verdict may result. This past October, Columbia’s Laurel Hill Memorial Cemetery was ordered to pay $2.1 million to the Rost family for emotional distress ($2 million) and breach of contract ($100,000.) In a pretrial opinion Judge David Ashworth summed up the case writing that the evidence "suggests that for almost four weeks the cremains of (the Rosts') loved one were left sitting in the cemetery workshop under the watchful eye of Ralph, (the cemetery groundskeeper) while the grieving family members made weekly and sometimes daily trips to the gravesite hoping to see some evidence of their father's burial in the family plot." According to court documents, the Rosts purchased a four-grave, full-sized plot in the mid-1960s, that could be used for burying either caskets or cremains. On Feb. 14, 2002, Frederick Rost died of natural causes at the age of 75. The following day, his widow and children met with representatives of Laurel Hill Memorial Cemetery and the Clyde Kraft Funeral Home, Columbia, to discuss the services and arrangements. Between Feb. 17 and 19, 2002, after a church memorial service was held, the funeral home transferred Rost's cremated remains to the cemetery, telling the family "everything was taken care of." One week after their father's death, Rost's two adult children went to the cemetery to visit the gravesite but neither could detect any disturbance of the ground at the gravesite. The two contacted a cemetery employee to express their concern. Approximately three weeks later, the cemetery employee called one of the children, according to documents, informing the next-of-kin that their father "wasn't buried where he was supposed to be." On March 15, 2002, the adult children traveled to the cemetery and met with another cemetery employee who acknowledged "they made a mistake and they would take care of it." The family asked cemetery officials to meet them at the gravesite on March 18. That morning, one next-of-kin arrived at the cemetery around 6:30 a.m. and checked the gravesite, which was – according to testimony unchanged. No employees were around, so the next-of-kin left the cemetery for about 45 minutes, returning with a sibling. This time, the ground around the family's gravesite had obviously been disturbed. "A fresh hole had been dug in the ground ... approximately three feet by three feet in size," according to court documents. The two siblings confronted the groundskeeper, who "denied any digging took place." The groundskeeper, who has since died and could not testify for the trial, pulled up the sod across the grave and exposed the top of the unmarked vault while the funeral director confirmed the unmarked vault "looked like" the one containing the elder Rost's remains. The grave was recovered. The Rost family "remained unconvinced that it was actually their father's cremains which were buried" in the gravesite. In October 2004, the family obtained a court order to "properly exhume" the cremains. The vault was unearthed and opened and inside was an identifying marker, indicating the remains were those of Rost. But, according to the Rost’s attorney, because cremated remains cannot be tested for DNA, the family isn't completely sure the ashes are Rost's. And because the cremated remains, urn and vault might be needed as evidence for court, the Rost attorney proclaimed, they remain unburied and in his custody. The verdict has been appealed.
Poe Gets Proper Funeral For Edgar Allan Poe, 2009 has been a better year than 1849. One hundred sixty years ago, the beleaguered, impoverished Poe was found, delirious and in distress, outside a Baltimore tavern. He was never coherent enough to explain what had befallen him since leaving Richmond, VA, a week earlier. He spent four days in a hospital before he died at age 40. Poe's cousin, Neilson Poe, never announced his death publicly. Fewer than 10 people attended the hasty funeral for one of the 19th century's greatest writers. And the injustices piled on. Poe's tombstone was destroyed before it could be installed when a train derailed and crashed into a stonecutter's yard. Rufus Griswold, a Poe enemy, published a libelous obituary that damaged Poe's reputation for decades. But in October, Poe had a two service funeral which drew about 350 mourners each time; the most a former church next to his grave could hold. Advance tickets were sold out, although some seats were available at the door to ensure Poe fan satisfaction, some traveling from as far away as Vietnam. Actors portraying Poe's contemporaries and other long-dead writers and artists paid their respects, reading eulogies adapted from their writings about Poe. Officials of the Poe House and Museum, Baltimore, followed the proper etiquette for funerals of the time period making the service as realistic as possible. Several cities vie for the Poe legacy. Along with Baltimore, where he spent some of his leanest years in the mid-1830s, Poe lived in or has strong connections to Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Richmond. His funeral, however, was arguably the splashiest of a year's worth of events honoring the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth. Baltimore has a decided advantage over the other cities that lay claim to Poe, notes Baltimore Museum of Art director Doreen Bolger, “We have the body."
Federal Cemetery Regulations Considered In late July, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) held hearings concerning federal regulations for cemeteries. The hearings were a response after four cemetery employees were charged with illegally disinterring bodies at Burr Oak Cemetery, an AfricanAmerican cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. The Cook County Sheriff has estimated that as many as 300 graves, and perhaps more, in the cemetery may have been affected. The accused are alleged to have disinterred the graves, placed the remains in a mass grave, and then resold the grave spaces. Among others, representatives from the Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Cemetery and Funeral Home Association testified at the hearing. In questioning whether new laws are needed, the FTC pledged to work with the Energy and Commerce Committee and pointed out that the Commission already has jurisdiction over cemeteries under Section 5 of the FTC Act. The cemetery has been placed under a receivership through a volunteer from the Catholic Archdiocese Cemeteries of Chicago, and has been rededicated in a special ceremony by a variety of clergy representing different faiths. The ICCFA has had discussions with House Energy and Commerce staff, FTC staff, the Cook County Sheriff's Office, many media outlets, and the Illinois Cemetery and Funeral Home Association. Although the investigation at Burr Oak is ongoing, ICCFA made the following salient points: 1.) The alleged misconduct at Burr Oak is a highly isolated and shocking event. Some reports claiming that these illegal disinterments "are not isolated events" are at best confusing acts where third parties broke into a cemetery to vandalize graves. 2.) Cemeteries' main function is to maintain graves, not to plunder them. There are means to legally disinter remains, including where a cemetery has mistakenly placed the remains in the wrong grave. However, the misconduct alleged at Burr Oak conforms to none of these legal and authorized means of disinterment. 3.) The alleged acts violate a number of existing laws, including the desecration of a grave, mishandling of human remains, fraud (reselling graves already sold), and the potential infliction of emotional distress on the families affected. 4.) Graves are legally protected and violators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. 5.) Cemeteries must (already, and appropriately so) comply with literally dozens of federal statutes and regulations that affect their operations from the Departments of Labor, Treasury, Justice, Veterans Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, even the Federal Reserve Board. In particular, it is important to note that Section 5 of the FTC Act gives the Commission regulatory authority over businesses engaging in unfair or deceptive practices, which includes cemeteries.
Be Fruitful and Multiply During her life, Rachel Krishevsky lived a life in accordance with haredi custom, believing children are a source of great joy. When she passed away at 99 years old in September, Krishevsky left behind no less than 1,400 direct descendents, everyone of them she knew personally. Marrying at 18, she and her husband had 11 children who produced 150 grandchildren, 1,000 great-grandchildren and, to date, several hundred great-great grandchildren.
Emailed Keynews In addition to your mailed copy of Keynews, as a member of PCCFA, if you would like to receive an email edition, please send your request to Keynews Editor, David Heisterkamp, at [email protected]
In the subject line, type "Emailed Keynews." In the email, please identify yourself and your company.
Dear Abby Helps With Burial Decisions
Senior Personal Ads
ENQUIRING writes: "Dear Abby, My father, who is in bad health, recently announced that he would like to be cremated and buried at the foot of my mother's grave. My birth mother died 28 years ago when I was 2, after they had been married only three years. Dad married my stepmother when I was 8. I feel he should be buried with the wife he's been with for 22 years. She is the one who has seen him through the worst times in his life, his heart attack and stroke. My stepmother seems to have no negative feelings about it. Am I wrong for thinking that a husband and wife should lie side-by-side when their time comes, with a single headstone with their names and dates of birth/death/marriage? Or is there some tradition I don't know about that he should be buried with this first wife?
FOXY LADY: Sexy, fashion-conscious blue-haired beauty, 80's, slim, 5'4' (used to be 5'6'), searching for sharp-looking, sharp-dressing companion. Matching white shoes and belt a plus.
Abby responds: "Dear ENQUIRING: Your stepmother is realistic and unsentimental. She knows your father was married before, and they may have discussed this between the two of them. Perhaps she feels that because your father prefers to be interred with your mother, that's where he belongs. Your stepmother had him during the most important years, while he was living and breathing. And who knows? She may marry again, so think positively.
LONG-TERM COMMITMENT: Recent widow who has just buried fourth husband, and am looking for someone to round out a six-unit plot. Dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath not a problem. SERENITY NOW: I am into solitude, long walks, sunrises, the ocean, and meditation. If you are the silent type, let's get together, take our hearing aids out and enjoy quiet times. WINNING SMILE: Active grandmother with original teeth seeking a dedicated flosser to share rare steaks, corn on the cob and caramel candy. BEATLES OR STONES? I still like to rock, still like to cruise in my Camaro on Saturday nights and still like to play the guitar. If you were a groovy chick, or are now a groovy hen, let's get together and listen to my eight-track tapes. MEMORIES: I can usually remember Monday through Thursday. If you can remember Friday, Saturday and Sunday, let's put our two heads together. MINT CONDITION: Male, 1932, high mileage, good condition, some hair, many new parts including hip, knee, cornea, valves. Isn't in running condition, but walks well.
Billboard Obits An Iowa funeral home is taking communication to the next level by placing its funeral announcements on electronic billboards around the city. Iles Funeral Home in Des Moines was approached about using electronic billboards to advertise the funeral home but general manager, John Wild, decided to use the billboards to let the public know about visitations and funeral services. The digital announcements, which have appeared on five billboards around Des Moines for a few months, last about 8 seconds. Announcements can flash the person's name, picture and service details as well as the funeral home's Web site. The announcement rotates with other ads and there is no additional cost to the family. Some critics have concerns that the billboards could be a distraction, particularly if someone spots the name of a friend or acquaintance without knowing about it beforehand. But the billboard company, Clear Channel Outdoors, said they do not think the billboards have been a problem. "The ad is for people who normally wouldn't be reached," a company spokesman said. "It's no different that getting a text message or email on your phone while you're driving down the road that somebody has died."
Can't You Smell that Smell? Grizzly Bears - smell small prey a mile away Polar Bears - smell seal pup 40 miles away Gypsy moths - smell potential mate 7 miles away Slugs - smell mushrooms up to 2 miles away Dogs - pick up chemical solutions in 1 part per trillion* *The equivalent to humans smelling one bad apple in 2 trillion barrels!
Battle Over Jim Thorpe’s Remains Relatives of famed American Indian athlete Jim Thorpe plan to go to federal court in Philadelphia in their quarter-century effort to win the return of his body from the Pennsylvania town that changed its name to provide him a final resting place. Family members want Jim Thorpe borough to return the remains of the Sac and Fox Indian for reburial near Shawnee, Oklahoma, where his father and other relatives are buried. "According to Sac and Fox tradition, Dad's soul will never be at peace until his body is laid to rest, after an appropriate ceremony, back here in his home," said Jack Thorpe, according to various news sources. "Until then, his soul is doomed to wander. We must have him back." Lawyers will argue that the borough must hand over the remains under the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Thorpe, born in 1887, attended the federal Indian Institute at Carlisle, where he led the school's football team to victories in 1911 and 1912 over established college teams. At the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, he became the only athlete ever to win gold medals in both the pentathlon and decathlon. He played for baseball's New York Giants and then for several teams in what would become the National Football League, which named its Most Valuable Player award after him. After his death, his third wife, Patricia, said she did not have enough money to give him the burial she thought he deserved. When Oklahoma's governor declined to spend money for a monument, she sought another place to honor her late husband. In the Poconos community 70 miles north of Philadelphia, civic leaders promised to build a monument and also pledged to merge the boroughs of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk under the name Jim Thorpe, which they did in 1954. Leaders hoped the plan would make the town a tourist attraction and even attract a football hall of fame, which ended up in Ohio. "The grave site is a contemplative place," said Hugos, a photographer with a local gallery. "It's not what attracts people here, but we're not going to give up Jim Thorpe's remains. We have honored his name, and every year on May 28 we still have a celebration of his birthday. Jack Thorpe said the family believed the town had acted in good faith in honoring his father and relatives still want to work with them on the issue. "The town is already a great success, and they don't need the bones of my father," he said. "I don't think the people of Jim Thorpe understand Indian culture and how important it is that our father be properly laid to rest."
No Room for London’s Dead London, England, population 8 million, is a crowded city. But there are many millions more under the soil of a city that has been inhabited for 2,000 years. And London is rapidly running out of places to put them. According to the AP, now the city's largest cemetery is trying to persuade Londoners to share a grave with a stranger. "A lot of people say, 'I'm not putting my Dad in a secondhand grave,"' said Gary Burks, superintendent and registrar of the City of London Cemetery, final resting place of close to 1 million Londoners. "You have to deal with that mindset." The problem is a very British one. Many other European countries regularly reuse old graves after a couple of decades. Britain does not, as a result of Victorian hygiene obsession, piecemeal regulation and national tradition. For many, an Englishman's tomb, like his home, is his castle. That view is also common in the United States, which like Britain tends to regard graves as eternal and not to be disturbed -although the U.S. has a lot more space, so the burial crisis is less acute. In much of Britain, reusing old graves remains illegal, but the City of London cemetery is exploiting a legal loophole that allows graves in the capital with remaining space in them to be reclaimed after 75 years. Burks points to a handsome marble obelisk carrying the details of the recently departed man buried underneath. The name of a Victorian Londoner interred in the same plot is inscribed on the other side. The monument has simply been turned around for its new user -- whose family, Burks says, got a fancy stone monument for much less than the market price by agreeing to share. Since a change in the law last year, cemetery staff have begun the even more sensitive process of digging up old remains, reburying them deeper and putting new corpses on top, in what have been dubbed "double-decker" graves. They'll be sold for the same price as the cemetery's regular "lawn" graves -- those in open grassy areas -- or about $3,200. Burks, a burly man who began working at the cemetery as a groundsman and gravedigger almost 25 years ago, said reusing graves will buy the rapidly filling cemetery six or seven more years of burials. "We are doing our damnedest to make the cemetery more sustainable," he said. So far, no other cemeteries have followed City of London in reusing graves. Many Britons have an instinctive resistance to the idea of grave-sharing. "I don't even want to think about it," said 29-year-old London receptionist Temi Oshinowo. "It's not showing respect. It doesn't matter whether or not the person has been buried for 25 years or 100 years, that is their space and you should give them respect." Martina Possedoni, a 23-year-old saleswoman, agreed. "It's like a second home and it's weird to think a stranger is in your home with you," she said. It's an attitude that frustrates advocates of grave reuse. Julie Rugg of the Cemetery Research Group at the University of York in northern England jokes that Britain's problem is that "we weren't invaded by Napoleon." Countries that adopted the Napoleonic Code have been reusing graves for almost 200 years. "We just need to get on with reusing graves," Rugg said. "Grave reuse gifts back to us our Victorian cemeteries to use again." Britain, a crowded island, has long battled to find room for its departed residents. Over the centuries they have been packed into mass graves, tucked into churchyards and laid out in sprawling cemeteries. London is like a layer cake of the dead: Victorian upon Medieval upon Saxon upon Roman. Construction workers frequently find remains dating back centuries. Workers building venues for the 2012 Olympic Games have unearthed 3,000-year-old Iron Age skeletons as well as Roman and Medieval artifacts. "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings." Robert Louis Stevenson R.I.P. Florence Harvey Herman KEYNEWS All readers are encouraged to contribute articles, statements, stories and opinions of interest to Keynews. However, the articles, statements, stories and opinions printed or reprinted in the Keynews do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Association or its membership. Layout and printing of Keynews by Penny Press of York, Inc. 53 S. Adams St., York, PA 17404 Phone: 717.843.4078 Fax: 717.848.1360 www.penny-press.com • email: [email protected]
Columbia Cemetery Vandalized According to Lancasteronline.com, every day after morning Mass, Joseph Robinson visits his wife Rosemary's tombstone at Holy Trinity Cemetery in Columbia. In august, he discovered that 45 to 50 tombstones — including some that are nearly 200 years old — had been toppled, damaged or even broken into pieces. The tombstone of his beloved wife of 43 years was not damaged, but Robinson said he can understand how those with loved ones whose tombstones were vandalized might feel. "I would be extremely upset. I think I would hit them with a baseball bat," he said of the vandals. "It's awful that people go out there and desecrate the final resting place of someone." Columbia Borough police Officer Matthew Leddy said some of the tombstones were completely destroyed. Some stones included ornate features such as a crucifix, and many of the damaged ones are from the early to late 1800s. Leddy said that the damaged tombstones are within 20 yards of a road that cuts through the middle of the graveyard. Multiple vandals likely were involved as some of the tombstones weigh 1,000 pounds or more, the patrolman said. There is no surveillance system at the cemetery, and no witnesses had come forward, he said. "It's frustrating because somebody knows who is responsible for this," he said. "Somebody was told, or were along (when it happened)." Columbia police ask that anyone with information contact them. Gerald Fischer, caretaker of the cemetery, said most of the tombstones can be uprighted and repaired, but older, weather-beaten ones now in pieces present a challenge. Still, he hopes to have them put back together. The preliminary damage estimate is about $50,000, said Jetti Reese, secretary of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, which owns the cemetery. A more detailed cost figure is expected after a representative of the church's insurance company assesses the damage, Reese said. Tombstones are vandalized in the county every year, but rarely does the number at one cemetery reach into the dozens. Robinson said that he and his wife used to put flowers on the graves of her mother and father at Holy Trinity Cemetery. They visited the cemetery at least annually for 40 years. His in-laws' graves were not among those damaged, but Robinson was still saddened by the vandalism. "I never saw anything like this before," he said.
Getting Older Every Year At least 50% of children born since 2000 have a good chance of being alive in 2100. A recent Danish study concludes if current health trends continue, more than half of all babies born in industrialized nations will live to the age of 100. In the United States, life expectancy for kids born today is likely to rise to 104. Since the early 20th century, life expectancy rose mostly due to a reduction in infant mortality rates. Since then, and especially since the 1970s, the boost has come from medical advancements in treating the elderly. People are living longer, and with fewer disabilities, than ever before. In coming decades, medical advances such as stem-cell therapy are likely to postpone deaths from heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. The bad news is that societies with tens of millions of people in their 80s and 90s will face unprecedented demands on their health-care and retirement systems.
All readers are encouraged to contribute articles, statements, stories and opinions of interest to Keynews. However, the articles, statements, stories and opinions printed or reprinted in the Keynews do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Association or its membership.
Wal-Mart Selling Caskets Online Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has started selling caskets on-line at prices typically much less than many funeral homes. The move follows a similar one by discount rival Costco, which has been selling caskets on-line for several years. Without any fanfare, Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., quietly put up about 15 caskets and dozens of urns on its Web site. Caskets ship within 48 hours. Federal law requires funeral homes to accept third-party caskets. The caskets are supplied from Star Legacy Funeral Network Inc., a company based in McHenry, Ill., that sells the same caskets for about the same price on its site, along with many others. Star Legacy CEO Rick Obadiah said the response has been better than the company or Wal-Mart expected, though he declined to give specifics. A spokesman for Walmart.com also declined to release sales figures and downplayed the venture. "Several online retailers offer this category on their sites," spokesman Ravi Jariwala wrote in an e-mail. "We are simply conducting a limited beta test to understand customer response." But Obadiah said it is not simply a test. He said more than 200 Star Legacy products, including pet urns and memorial jewelry, and eventually about two dozen caskets, will be sold at walmart.com. The company also supplies similar types of products to online retailer Overstock.com and urns to Costco's Web site. Other parts of the WalMart empire also sell funeral wares. The company's samsclub.com site sells casket floral arrangements for about $300. Part of the business model is to get people to plan ahead: Walmart.com is allowing people to pay for the caskets over a period of 12 months for no interest. The industry is not too concerned about Wal-Mart entering the market, said Pat Lynch, president-elect of the National Funeral Home Directors Association. Consumers have been able to buy caskets online and from other sources for years, with minimal effect on the business, he said.
On the Jay Leno Show “Hey, did you hear that Wal-Mart has begun selling caskets? Hmm. At least it’s not IKEA. You’d have to put it together yourself! Eeee.” - Jay Leno
ICCFA files Supreme Court Brief In September, the ICCFA filed an Amicus Curiae or "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Brown v. Hovatter. This litigation seeks to have the Maryland State Morticians' Act declared unconstitutional because it prohibits corporations from owning funeral homes. The Institute for Justice represented the plaintiffs, individuals who are seeking ownership of Maryland funeral homes through the corporate structure, which is routine in about 48 states. The ICCFA had filed an Amicus brief two years ago with the lower U.S. District Court and the court referred to portions of the association's brief in determining that the state law did violate the dormant Commerce Clause of the Constitution by adversely affecting the flow of interstate commerce. However, on appeal, the U.S. Court for the Fourth Circuit reversed the district court in March of this year by holding that funeral homes provide basically local services and neither those services nor the state law prohibiting corporate ownership affect interstate commerce and, therefore, do not violate the Commerce Clause. The ICCFA is concerned that the holding of the Fourth Circuit is so seriously flawed as applied to the issues in Brown, that it could be applied to federal law that relies on the existence of interstate commerce to have jurisdiction over funeral homes. In particular, the Court's ruling could render the FTC Funeral Rule unenforceable in the states making up the Fourth Circuit (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia). The ICCFA explained to the Supreme Court that although Congress "has long recognized its right under the Commerce Clause to regulate the funeral industry" through a variety of statutes and regulations, following the Fourth Circuit's flawed analysis, the areas of funeral services regulated by the Funeral Rule "could be interpreted as local and not interstate in nature." The ICCFA respectfully urged the Supreme Court to review and reverse the Brown decision. As a practical matter, the Supreme Court accepts only about five percent of the cases submitted to it under these circumstances (technically called a petition for a writ of certiorari). The ICCFA in adhering to its mission to promote consumer choices, prearrangement, and open competition finds itself in the unique position of defending the constitutionality of the Funeral Rule.