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In This Issue
From the Ground Up: 2012 Maintenance Survey
Best Practices for Facebook
Quiring wins MBNA's Aspire Award
Funeral home mourns therapy dog Oliver
Pie-making as a metaphor for life
A walking club in your cemetery?
Mortuaries vs. Cemeteries
Death stats for 2009 & 2010
Paul Elvig Student Convention Scholarship
Time to renew membership
Assorted Useful Links
Suppliers: Interested in advertising?
Bulletin Board

Vol. I, Issue III

This is the third issue of our new, online-only Insider. It will continue to evolve, of course, but we're curious what you think about this method of delivery and content vs. our old printed newsletters. Please click here: Insider Survey  to anonymously answer a few quick questions to let us know how we're doing.


2012 Convention


The convention committee is hard at work assembling a second-to-none slate of guest speakers, which will be announced very soon. In the meantime get your hotel room reserved today! Currently the hotel is full except for our room block so it's important to get your room now.


The basic schedule for the convention follows:


  • Wednesday, Aug. 8: WSFDA board meeting
  • Thursday, Aug. 9: WCCFA board meeting; exhibit setup, golf tournament, and supplier-sponsored dinner cruise of Lake Coeur d'Alene
  • Friday, Aug. 10: Convention program, dinner on your own
  • Saturday, Aug. 11: Convention program, annual awards banquet and costume party
  • Sunday, Aug. 12: Check out

room block

room rates


From the Ground Up

American Cemetery Magazine's 2012 Grounds Maintenance Survey Results


Looking at some cemeteries you might get the impression that grounds maintenance consists of throwing down some grass seed and praying that it grows. But make no mistake about it: Cemeteries that thrive make it a priority to maintain and beautify their properties.


Grounds maintenance consists of everything a cemetery must do to be inviting. Equipment budgets, outsourcing and a myriad of other variables must be taken into consideration when coming up with an overall grounds maintenance strategy.


"Without proper maintenance, the cemetery will quickly fall into disrepair," according to Dennis Werner, general manager of St. Michael's Cemetery in East Elmhurst, N.Y. It's important to pay attention to it because it ensures peace of mind for families that choose to use your cemetery, he said.


The topic is so important that American Cemetery conducted a grounds maintenance survey so cemeterians could share tips, strategies and equipment and staffing preferences. Eighty-two people responded to the survey, and 64.2 percent said that well-kept grass is the most important aspect of a cemetery's grounds maintenance. Accordingly, 62.7 percent of respondents plan on buying fertilizer this year, and 36.5 percent will buy lawnmowers. Cemeterians seem to want to keep their grounds natural, with only 4.1 percent of respondents planning to buy artificial grass.

Premier 2-29-2012  

"When you fail to pay attention to your grounds, trouble comes quickly," Werner warned. "Cutting and trimming the grass around monuments is a labor intensive job. Within two to three weeks, a cemetery can look unkempt if it is not receiving routine mowing and trimming," he said.

David Shipper, president and CEO of companies that own and operate 42 cemeteries and funeral homes serving 11,000 families a year, believes that cemetery maintenance is a reflection of the managers responsible for operating the property.


"When you know what you're doing, it contributes to the success of the cemetery," he said.


To read the entire article, click here



Best Practices for

Funeral Directors to use Facebook 



When I was young and visiting my Grandparents at the family funeral home-EganFuneralHome.com in Bolton, Ontario-I would spend a lot of time with my grandfather walking into town, going to the post office and running other errands. I was always amazed about how many people knew him and that he knew them. His success-just like other past generation funeral directors-could be attributed to being a helpful member of community, whether professionally or in other activities. They knew him, they liked him, and when they needed his services, they could trust him.


Since life is different nowadays and there are a lot less people in the "social hubs" than there were 50 years ago, it doesn't mean that you have to go to the same places where Gramps hung out-he was where the people were. You should apply the same philosophy-Go To Where The People in Your Community Are!

Wilbert 4-2012  

Now, I'm not saying quit all of the groups that you are currently involved with-but you should take some quick inventory on your time invested vs. the exposure and reach that you get.


If you think that I am just pushing this Facebook stuff on you because I am a bit of a techie-you're wrong. I'm trying to tell you that it is probably one of the biggest networks in your town and you need to be in there!


Do you know how many people in your market are on Facebook? Would you be surprised that I could tell you exactly how many down to the individual, gender, age? It's easy to find out-and also you can advertise so directly it would blow you away!


But before we get into my Funeral-Facebook Formula, you have to make sure that you have the basic foundation of Facebook Profiles and Pages. So we are going to build off of the Seven Mistakes Funeral Directors make with Facebook article. I want to outline what the Best Practices are for funeral directors using Facebook.


The purpose of this "Best Practices" is to cut through all of the noise and give you the straight goods and short-cut the learning process for you as I teach you to nurture your online relationships to build your community, increase your credibility and visibility because people want to do business with people that they know, like and trust-Facebook can help you achieve that!


I don't want Facebook to be a new time-waster although I must warn you: if you are new to Facebook, it is easy to get sucked in, connecting with old friends, checking photos, playing games, taking quizzes, etc. Anyway, after the initial rush wears off, it will be back to business-relationship-building business, that is!


This Best Practices is really going to get you up and running, but when you want to kick it into high-gear, you should check out my Funeral-Facebook Formula seminar coming to a computer near you in July.


Before we get into the Nuts & Bolts, we need to know the difference between Profiles and Pages. Link here for the entire article.




Quiring Monuments wins

Monument Builders of North America's Aspire to Success Contest


San Diego, CA, March 6, 2012 - Quiring Monuments was one of two winners in the MNA's 2011 Aspire to Success Contest at its recent Joint Annual Meeting held in conjunction with the California Monument Association (CMA) and the Pacific Northwest Monument Builders Association (PNMBA) held February 24-26, 2012 at the Bahia Resort and Hotel in San Diego, California.


New stories about QR codes keep popping up everywhere, and they feature Quiring Monuments, Inc. much of the time. For years, their company tried to find ways to link technology like personal web pages to granite memorials. Previous attempts included attaching video recorders and RFID chips to headstones, but each of these previous attempts fell short.


As Quick Read barcodes (QR Codes) gradually became more popular in the U.S., they adopted the technology and created Living Headstones®-Internet Connected Memorials along with a short three-minute video that explained the process. then, they contacted a reporter from a radio station in Seattle who was happy to come over that very day and do a story on the memorial innovation. That story caught the attention of another reporter, which caught the attention of the blogging community and it continued to snowball from there.



They were contacted by the local ABC affiliate and the story went national. It continued to bounce around the globe to The Canadian Broadcasting Network and even in the India Times.


Jon Reece, AICA receives the Aspire Award from Kay Stilson, chair of MBNA's Marketing Committee

When National Public Radio did an article titled Technology Brings Digital Memories to Grave Sites on Memorial Day, it was promptly re-published and re-aired over public radio in Georgia, Vermont, Toronto, Houston, Chicago, Boston, New Zealand and BBC radio in London, England.


It all started with a three-minute You-Tube video titled "Living Headstone" Memorials by Quiring Monuments which was viewed over 13,000 times in four months. The sheer volume of press received by Quiring Monuments has been nothing but a boon to the monument industry.


MBNA's Aspire Awards were created to recognize monument builder companies that have drawn favorable attention to their companies, and in turn, to the industry through their specialized marketing and/or public relations campaigns. Any publicity received during the contest year (November 1, 2010 through November 1, 2011) was eligible. This included coverage by newspapers, magazines, television, new acquisitions, celebrated anniversaries or testimonial letters.



Congratulations to Quiring Monuments!




Funeral home mourns therapy dog Oliver 


WCCFA members who have met Mark Krause, owner of Krause Funeral Homes in Milwaukee, Wis., will remember Oliver, the Krause family's Portugese Water Dog. Mark spoke about Oliver at a recent WCCFA convention. We were saddened to learn that Oliver passed away the day after Christmas 2011 at the age of ten.


Oliver's photo still hangs at the Krause Funeral Homes, but he is no longer available to help grieving families.


First a Krause family pet, Oliver ended up working most of his life as a therapy dog.


"I remember one little boy, maybe about eight years old, who wouldn't talk after a sibling died," funeral director Mark Krause said. "But he talked and talked to Oliver.


"Oliver worked maybe a thousand funerals in his day, maybe more," he said. "What he did was really magical. People in their suits and dresses would get down on the floor to pet him."

 Oliver and Mark

Oliver died Dec. 26, just a week after being diagnosed with lung cancer.


"The vet came to the house and we were all around him," Krause said. "I think that's what he would have wanted. He was with everyone who loved him."


Krause never planned to have a dog work at the funeral homes. Instead, the story began with his daughter and wife lobbying for a family dog.


"Then 9-11 happened," he said of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. "The whole world was going to hell, and I was arguing about a dog; shame on me."


They quickly settled on the Portugese water dog breed - the same breed since chosen by President Barack Obama's family - and soon Oliver was part of the Krause family.


Born on Memorial Day 2001, he was still very much a pup. Krause's wife, Joan, took responsibility for training Oliver, taking him to classes where he became a star pupil.


"I get all the credit,Oliver & Joan but she did all the hard work," Krause said.


Oliver's formal education included training and certification as a therapy dog with Pets Helping People in New Berlin. When his wife began talking about taking Oliver to schools and nursing homes, Krause had a different idea.


"I think we could really use him at the funeral home," he said.



And so Oliver went to work.


Sometimes he would be there when families came in to make funeral arrangements. Sometimes people would ask about the dog with his portrait on the wall and then want Oliver to attend their gatherings.


When more than one funeral gathering was happening at the same time, families would ask if Oliver could visit theirs, too.

Pontem 4-2012  

Oliver dressed for work - a service dog vest with the words "Ask to Pet Me, I'm Friendly" - when on duty.


"You would put on his vest and he'd put his game face on," Krause said. "He had this radar for who meeded him. He'd scan the room and zero in on someone, walk up and say hello. Then he'd kind of lean against you."


His signature move was to sit on people's feet.


"It was his way of hugging people," Krause said. "When he was done working, he was a regular old dog, getting into trouble and everything."


Oliver also visited nursing homes and schools. Kids especially liked reading to him, and he was always a good listener.


"Oliver, although a canine, has always been considered a colleague of ours," wrote funeral director Elaine Litzau in an email to the Journal Sentinel. "He provided a lot of comfort to grieving families over the years."


But Oliver was not about all work and no play. One favoriate trick included walking the dog - himself - at a simple "Come" command. People liked to see Oliver pick up his leash and happily escort himself back to Krause.


"We can't be sad for what we lost, but we're trying to be happy for what we had," Krause said. "We're getting to the point we're telling Oliver stories, not talking about how he died, so we're going to have a funeral for him."


Friends were invited to gather on January 29 at the Krause Funeral Home.


"If any dog deserves a funeral, it's Oliver," Krause said. "He was a good boy."





Turning pie-making

into a metaphor for life


Beth M. Howard meant to write a memoir about baking pie, but the book that brings her to town this week, "Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie," isn't at all what she had planned.
matthews 3-2-12  

The former Seattleite worked on Microsoft's CEO summits, then moved on to another technology job and later talked her way into a pie-making job at a Malibu, Calif., bakery, selling "more than one pie to Robert Downey, Jr." and baking strawberry-rhubarb creations for Dick Van Dyke. The kitchen work was grounding, healthy, a tangible skill. And it was a return to her roots-her own parents got engaged over a slice of her mom's banana-cream pie-in a modern world that lacked personal connections.

Her agent read the book halfway through, and felt the story lacked conflict and tension.

If only, for Howard's sake, it had stayed that way.

Shortly after, Howard's husband, Marcus Iken, died suddenly of a ruptured aorta. Stricken by grief and guilt, Howard went on a cross-country mission to share pies with the nation and "give something back to the world," handing out generous slices on National Pie Day, teaching 8-year-olds to bake, judging contests at the Iowa State Fair.

Then, when revisiting the town where she had lived as a child in Iowa, she wound up unexpectedly renting the house that inspired the famed "American Gothic" painting, and opening-what could be more iconic? - her own luscious "Pitchfork Pie Stand" on the site.

She recently packed up her husband's RV with mixing bowls and rolling pins and sacks of flour and sugar, embarking on a cross-country tour for her book. She will be here for appearances tonight and tomorrow. We caught up with Howard from her home in Iowa before she headed West. Here are some edited excerpts from our conversation (link here):

Why not start a walking club
in your cemetery? Michigan Memorial Park invites the public to keep on walking


The one thing all cemeteries - religious and secular, private and public, historic and new - have in common is that they're nice places for a walk. So why not start a walking club?


Drawing the community into your cemetery generally involves a lot of planning, organizing and follow-through: a Memorial Day program, a Christmas program, a Day of the Dead celebration. Michigan Memorial Park in Flat Rock certainly holds those types of events, but recently President Kelly Dwyer tried something more low-key and informal, a walking club she started almost on a whim and now enthusiastically promotes.


ICCFA Magazine talked to Dwyer about the MM Walking Club and why she thinks other cemeterians should consider starting one.


Where did you get the idea to start a club?


I was attending a professional seminar, and Gary Buss, a good friend who runs a cemetery in Philadelphia, mentioned a cool website called mapmyrun.com. You can go there and map your run or walk route and it tells you how many miles you ran or walked. I thought that was really interesting, because I like to walk.

Walking Club
Some of the members of the 2011 Michigan Memorial Club with family members at the year-end celebration recognizing the top three walkers. The 2012 club started April 1.

When I got back from the conference, I got on mapmyrun.com and did the mapping around the cemetery. They emailed me a challenge: "We bet that you can't walk 30 miles in 30 days in January."


I love challenges, so I started walking, in January. I loved it so much that while I was walking I started wondering if other people would like to do it, if people would join a walking club.


I came up with some prizes and decided it would start April 1. I didn't really market it. I put a banner out on the board in front of the cemetery saying "New walking club, April 1 to October 31. See details inside."


I had people sign up on a form that my attorney reviewed. He included a "hold harmless" paragraph in case anyone is injured while walking.


We asked people to sign up and then let us know the miles they walked. Some people signed up but never reported any miles, and other just reported miles once or twice. But in signing up, they gave us their contact information, and they're on my email list, so I keep in touch with them.


I send an email out each week and we talk and encourage each other; it's a wonderful little networking thing.


To read the rest of this inspiring article, click here.



Mortuaries vs. Cemeteries:

Tighter and Tougher Relationships


Thank goodness we don't have such adversarial and hostile relationships between cemeteries and funeral homes in Washington state. - editor


"Families more often now tell us they must use pre-arrangement funds identified for a funeral to cover all related expenses involved in the funeral. For example, when it is determined that opening and closing costs at the cemetery have not been considered, requests to adjust original choices are considered to eliminate some of them to cover cemetery charges. They can delete the flowers or select a less-expensive casket. They may arrange for a gravesite [sic] service only, or eliminate the evening visitation."


"We have families change their arrangements to cremation, eliminating their originally chosen casket, and burial of the urn in their grave. Then they discover the cemetery will charge a full opening and closing fee for the urn if a lawn crypt  vault has been pre-installed. Cemeteries all seem to be inflexible with charges and adaptations."


"It can be difficult, when we as funeral directors offer a discounted, guaranteed prepaid amount, to cover the requests of the initial arrangements only to renegotiate and reduce services to recover charges to spend elsewhere - namely unexpected charges at a cemetery."


The above are examples recently shared with us as a more common experience with at-need arrangements. Here's another: "Fortunately, when we realize this problem is occurring at the time of at-need arrangements, we are able to suggest conversion to suitable cremation-oriented casket, or a 'rental casket,' with all appearances as an attractive full casket typically made of wood - and fully functional for visitation, procession to and from church or elsewhere for formalities - to return to the funeral home for removal of the casket inner liner and the decedent. The body is then transported for cremation privately, or witness presence if preferred. This eliminates everything at a cemetery.PCM 1/2 page 


We don't even have to hand them an interment permit, giving them access to the family information for further promotion for sales of markers, floral vases, and potential grave sales for family members. This activity, in our experience, has been win-win for the families we serve, amid the potential impositions and surprise charges from cemeteries."


Also, cemeteries offering caskets and other typically mortuary-related items might be inconvenient, restrictive or more costly to families as compared to package arrangements offered by most funeral providers, and unknown to the client family.


We can only conclude that cemeteries will, in the long run, be the losers. There are only so many, usually predictable, deaths and potential interments per any region within a cemetery. When present circumstances, considering families that become transient when children become adults and relocate out of the region of a long-past family commitment to a cemetery, are fractured - trouble begins. Present information is surfacing relative to cemeteries recognizing insolvency is near or potentially anticipated.


It may be time for a reevaluation of standards and staunch principles of the past.


Article from a March 6, 2012 Mortuary Management Magazine electronic bulletin by Ron Hast, publisher of the magazine.


Death statistics available for 2009 and 2010
The Washington State Department of Health has provided 2009 and 2010 death statistics. They include:
  • Autopsy and Burial Occurrence
  • Autopsy and Burial Residence
  • Death Occurrence Counts by Funeral Home

2009 statistics can be viewed here


2010 statistics can be viewed here 




WCCFA offers The PAUL ELVIG Student

Convention Scholarship 

for current mortuary college students


For the last three years, the board of the WCCFA has presentedElvig an all-expenses-paid scholarship to our annual convention to a WCCFA member who has not attended one.


At its November 2011 meeting, the board voted to rename the scholarship The Paul Elvig Student Convention Scholarship in honor of the man who has had such huge impact on so many people in our profession from here in Washington state to Washington, D.C. 

Batesville ad    

The scholarship will henceforth be awarded based on entries submitted by those who are current mortuary college students and have never attended a WCCFA convention.


The Seattle area is fortunate to have two excellent mortuary colleges, including Pima Medical Institute School of Mortuary Sciences and the Lake Washington Tech School of Funeral Service.


This year's convention will be held at the Coeur d'Alene Resort August 9-11.


Students can click here for the scholarship application.


Time to renew your membership!


RenewalsIn case you have misplaced your membership renewal form, you can find it here:  


Cemetery or Funeral Home Voting Member


Combination Cemetery/Funeral Home


Supplier Member


Municipal Member


Associate Member


When you print them out you will note there is a membership directory form included. Please be sure to complete and return it with your renewal form.



We are partnering again this year with the ICCFA's Music License Coalition. Information is here: ICCFA Music License Agreement


Same low cost for the fourth straight year-just $248! Applications received by the ICCFA after 1/25/2012 will cost $255. 

Assorted Useful Links


Washington state Funeral and Cemetery Board


WSFDA: Washington State Funeral Directors Association


ICCFA: International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association


CANA: Cremation Association of North America


NFDA: National Funeral Directors Association


CAO: Cemetery Association of Oregon


OFDA: Oregon Funeral Directors Association


MBNA: Monument Builders of North America


PNMBA: Pacific Northwest Monument Builders Association 



Interesting in advertising in the Insider?


We have a far-flung readership of over 350 and our list is constantly growing.


Advertising is available only to WCCFA Supplier members. Link here for a membership application form. It's only $275 annually!


Link here for all you need to know about advertising with us. If you don't see what you need, send us an email here


Bulletin Board

Do you have a job opening you need to fill? A piece of equipment to sell? Text advertisements are FREE in the Insider. Just click on the Bulletin Board logo to email your ad to the WCCFA and watch for it in our next Insider.

THE WCCFA INSIDERis published by and for the members of the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association. News articles and press releases are welcome and are published on a space-available and suitability basis.


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