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In This Issue
Spring Conference news
Keeping history alive: Marcia Wazny and Bayview Cemetery
No Money for a Funeral?
Stay ahead of the curve!
Avoid Liability in Cremation Procedures
Cemeteries: It's all about first impressions
Assorted Useful Links
Suppliers: Interested in advertising?
Bulletin Board: Now Hiring!

Vol. II, Issue II

Spring Title Block

There's still time to register for the 20th Annual College of Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Studies! We have assembled an amazing group of speakers with very timely topics covering the whole spectrum of death-care. There's something for everyone from the grounds up!


Start figuring out now how to clone yourself because you won't want to miss a single session. If you can't clone yourself, be sure to bring several people with you!


Here's a breakdown of what you can expect.


The Plight of the Cemetery: a roundtable discussion about the plight of the traditional cemetery in light of the cultural move toward cremation and scattering, as well as the effects of the economy on cemeteries - in particular how it pertains to endowed care maintenance. Marcia Wazny, Superintendent at Bayview Cemetery, Bellingham, will facilitate this round table discussion and brainstorm session on new challenges to both public and private cemeteries. Bring your ideas, experiences, and questions to share, as we explore this important topic.
Legal Practices for Employment Screening, including a review of pre-employment legal issues such as discrimination risks; Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance; mandatory screening - industry laws, contract or common-law duty; criminal records, EEOC guidance; will discuss components of an effective employer policy for pre-employment inquiries, and suggestions to help you design your own employer action plan. Speaker David Bowman is Staff Counsel for Washington Employers, negotiating labor contracts, addressing employment and labor law issues, reviewing HR documents to ensure state and Federal compliance.

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Great New Products, or: Great! New Products! Now how do we deal with them in the cemetery? Any forward-thinking cemetery manager is always looking for new products and services to sell to customers - and sell they do. Suddenly all this new stuff is appearing on the Operations plate - what do you do with it? Dennis Boser will give you a heads-up on new things coming your way and the most effective and efficient ways you, the superintendent and cemetery grounds staff, can best prepare for and present them to the public you serve.


To Catch a Thief - Security in the Cemetery. Sunset Hills Memorial Park Superintendent J.C. Naig and security specialists from Security One will share practical and affordable methods and equipment to help you tailor a security system for your park. With the huge uptick in theft from cemeteries it's time to re-think your security strategy, and these are just the people to show you how.


Cemetery Efficiency: managing time, equipment and resources to get the most bang for your bucks. Bob Morris of The Brickman Group will lead this discussion, and you'll go back to your park bristling with new ideas just in time for Memorial Day!


The Games People Play: You want a copy of what? Just who are you? Prove it! How many times has someone walked into your cemetery office presenting himself or herself as THE only person with legal rights to you-name-it. How do you negotiate the maze of rules, regulations and laws in determining who can do what with graves, niches or crypts; prepaid goods and services and more. Cemetery-savant Paul Elvig will both educate and amuse.


How can you do sincere good in your community, and help your bottom line at the same time? Craig Nelson, funeral director with Beck's Funeral Home, has considerable experience at this and will share the whos, hows, whats and whys of public involvement for the death-care professional.


Dealing with the Media in Difficult Situations - cemeteries can seem like magnets for bad publicity. People tend to see them as public domain where they can do pretty much whatever they want, whenever they want. Next thing you know some local reporter is waving a microphone in your face while his camera crew records everything you say and do. How can you head off these situations? What do you do when they happen? Scott Sheehan has been through this wringer a few times over the years and will share tried and tested techniques for getting through it unscathed.


The Two-Up System: Family Service and Funeral Directors. Combination cemetery/funeral homes have the challenge of their staff presenting what can seem like an overwhelming amount of information to a grieving family. How do you juxtapose funeral directors and family service advisers? How do you avoid tag-teaming the family? How do you weave a seamless experience to comfort and guide the family? Experienced professionals John Krake, location manager and Ken Friday, a family service adviser, from Acacia Memorial Park and Funeral Home will share their experiences and practiced teamwork approach to calmly, efficiently and kindly serving families on the worst day of their lives. Be ready for a little role-playing adventure.


How we can actively help mold the next generation of death-care professionals

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln

Life-long funeral professional and instructor Jack Norvell will discuss how Mortuary schools are sharpening the axes! If the blade is not sharpened look no closer than the mirror to see why. We read many articles which are negative and some positive about our colleges of mortuary science. Many ask why is THIS course taught and why isn't THAT course taught? Or "Where do we find good graduates? I'm not able to find good people." The answer to these and many other hollick article questions will be discussed along with a few thoughts on Pat Hollick's recent Director's Line (link) in the December Insider. We'll also discuss whether the license is worth the effort. This is the beginning of a discussion which will certainly become even more important tomorrow. The funeral profession is ever-changing and if we do not change, if we do not keep up, it will cease to exist. Don't become obsolete!


Engaging the SightLife Experience: Explore the donation experience in this inspirational and interactive session. This is your chance to see the whole process from a new perspective. Using material that allows all the people involved to share a role in the process, the presenters will engage you in the whole experience of donation interactively.
Sherry Anderson, SightLife, and Jack St. Hilaire, embalming supervisor for the Seattle Care Center, will share all the details - and there may be cookies involved.


In addition to all these terrific break-out sessions, there will be two general sessions presented, both of which will get you thinking and talking - and hopefully, doing!


Total Customer Service From the Grounds Up: Dennis Boser, a passionate advocate for serving families in absolutely the best ways possible, will lead a lively discussion on little and big things you might never think about doing. He has grown up in the cemetery profession and over the years observed the good, the bad and the ugly in customer service. Let's share some stories!


How Strategic Marketing Can Enhance the Image of Death-Care: advertising guru Mike Pursel, owner of Mike Pursel Advrtising, has worked with death-care professionals for fifteen years (and has been in advertising in general for over twenty). He will discuss effective advertising for cemeteries and funeral homes. You'll watch some commercials, listen to a few radio ads, and talk about the new media, leading into a discussion of why we need to paint a positive picture to the Washington state consumer of our services. How, and should, we as an association band together to do this? You'll want to take a LOT of notes!

Now, about that cloning...

* * * * * *

Download a registration form here.

Bayview Cemetery manager Marcia Wazny's fascination with cemetery includes walking tours
Name: Marcia Wazny
Age: 56
Hometown: Bellingham
Curious about headstones: Wazny, the manager of Bayview Cemetery since 2002, surprised herself by becoming an enthusiastic local historian as part of her 26-year career with Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department.
"I'm not really a historian. I'm not interested in genealogy or family history," she says. "But I couldn't help become aware of the cemetery's age, since it was founded in 1888, with more than 24,000 people here. I started noticing these names on headstones are familiar because they are street names in Bellingham. I couldn't help asking, 'Who are these people?'"
New idea: "What really caused cemetery tours to come to fruition was the hit we took in 2009 during the recession," Wazny says. "It's no secret; we lost $100,000 that year in retail sales because we became a discretionary expense as part of the death care industry. We cut $100,000 our of our budget for 2010 and had to lay off staff. So I asked myself, 'What else can I do?'
"The cemetery is museum, arboretum and nature reserve, as well as a resting place. The answer was tours of the cemetery, talking about the historic people who stood here, who are buried here."
Lively tours: "I get really animated, passionate and fairly theatrical during a tour," Wazny says. "I've received heart-felt feedback. I was inspired by 'Looking Back' by Dorothy Koert and Galen Biery. I would see a headstone, then I would look up their accomplishments.
Pontem new 9-2012  
"Over the past three years I have led several tours. I'll always remember how we had 54 people sign up for the first tour, more than twice what we expected."
Cemetery favorities: Space doesn't allow for all of Wazny's historical favorites in Bayview, including the more than 200 Civil War veterans: "Mother of Bellingham" Teresa Eldridge, the first female settler in 1853; and John Kastner, whose blacksmith-shop horse-shoes can still be seen in front of The Bagelry, on Railroad Avenue.
Bus since Wazny enjoys poetry, she can't help but be fascinated by the graves of Washington poets Ella Higginson and Elizabeth Watts Henley.
"This gentleman asked me the location (of Henley's grave) and he turned out to be an Oregon book expert, John Henley, her son," Wazny says. "He sent me a book of her poetry."
sourced from Whatcom Magazine, written by Michelle Nolan with photo by Russ Kendall

Have you renewed your WCCFA membership for 2013?


Renewal forms were mailed at the end of Decemer, and reminders went out recently. However, if you can't find your form but know you need to renew, click on the appropriate link below. 


VOTING member: cemetery, funeral home, municipal/cemetery district

VOTING COMBINATON cemetery/funeral home member

NON-VOTING municipal or cemetery district



VA to provide caskets/urns

and identify "industry standards" for them


In the closing hours of the 112th Congress, the House approved S. 3202, the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2012, which the president is expected to sign into law. This new law authorizes the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to "furnish a casket or urn, of such quality as the secretary considers appropriate for a dignified burial...in a national cemetery of a deceased veteran in any case in which the secretary...isunable to identify the veteran's next of kin, if any; and...determines that sufficient resources for the furnishing of a casket or urn for the burial of a veteran in a national cemetery are not otherwise available."


In other words, when a veteran dies as an indigent and next of kin can't be located, the VA will furnish either a casket or an urn as appropriate. Except for military funerals, this legislation marks the first time that the VA provides the actual casket or urn in lieu of a monetary benefit. In effect, the VA will become a third-party casket provider. This new benefit will become effective one year after enactment, i.e., 2014, and will apply to deaths occurring one year after enactment.


In the meantime, the VA must submit a report within the next six months to both the House and Senate VA Committees demonstrating that the VA has complied with "industry standards" for its furnishing of caskets and urns "for a dignified burial." The report must include a description of the industry standards, but it is unclear where and how these standards will be determined.


The   new law also requires medical examiners, funeral directors and other entities having responsibility for a deceased veteran's remains for interment in a national cemetery to notify the VA whether the deceased was cremated, and what steps were taken to ensure that the deceased veteran has no next of kin. The VA also will determine whether the deceased veteran has sufficient resources for a casket or urn. Oddly, this provision takes effect 180 days after enactment, though the casket/urn benefit itself is not effective until one year after enactment.


Qualifying for the funeral allowance also has been expanded by the new law to cover deceased veterans where no next of kin is known or where the veteran's remains have not been claimed. This provision becomes effective one year after enactment. During this time, the VA presumably will develop regulations establishing the mechanics of applying for these new benefits.


Until now, VA funeral and burial benefits were distinguished by the fact the funeral-related benefits were provided via monetary allowances, while burial-related benefits were mainly provided via actual burial spaces, i.e., the national cemeteries, as well as headstones, and more recently outer burials containers. The Dignified Burial Act for the first time provides actual funeral merchandise - the casket or urn - in a benefit of admittedly limited application that may be expanded in future legislation. The ICCFA has discussed with VA staff the question of obtaining industry standards for caskets and urns and has offered the association's assistance.

Koppenberg 1/4 page  

Sourced from the ICCFA Magazine for February 2013. Author Robert M. Fells, Esq. is ICCFA General Counsel and executive director, responsible for maintaining and improving relationships with federal and state government agencies, the news media, consumer organizations and related trade associations. He will participate in the government & legal panel session at the 2013 ICCFA Convention & Expo, as well as presenting a breakout session called "The 60 Minutes syndrome: How to make news exposés work to help your business," at the convention.


For details about the convention, April 10-13 in Tampa Bay, Florida, go to www.iccfa.com or call 800-645-7700.
What to Do When There's No Money for a Funeral

By Geoff Williams | U.S.News & World Report LP - Wed, Feb 20, 2013


If you've been struggling with money your entire life, and you're advanced in years or gravely ill, death must seem like a cosmic prank. Who wants to consider that after a lifetime of scrounging, you (or your loved ones) can't afford to pay your final bill?


It's a serious problem that seems to have grown worse over the years and one that spiked during the recession. There is no organization that tracks unclaimed bodies, but coroners throughout the country, in local news stories, have reported that the numbers are climbing. In 2011, Oregon cremated 30 percent more unclaimed corpses than the year before. In 2012, in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the coroner asked the county to create a special cemetery for unclaimed bodies due to a lack of dignified space to put the remains.

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So what does one do if there is no money for a funeral? After all, death, like taxes, is a sure thing, and if you have a great aunt drawing her last breath, you can't very well ask her to hang around for a few months while you raise funds for a proper send-off. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, in 2012, the average cost for an adult funeral was $7,775, which doesn't include cemetery costs.


If you lack the funding for a funeral, here's what some experts say your options are.


If there's time, prepay the funeral expenses. This isn't an option if death occurs unexpectedly, but if you know the inevitable is coming, prepaying can help you find more time to gather the money, and get the financial stress out of the way now.


After all, "planning a funeral is not something you want to do at the spur of the moment, in your height of grief," says Lacy Robinson, senior professional development trainer at Aurora Casket Company, based out of Aurora, Ind., and one of the nation's largest casket manufacturers.


Consumers can usually pay in installments or all at once, but they ideally want to time it a year or two before a death rather than, say, 10 years. Despite the many honest and ethical funeral homes, there are cases where people have been billed for expenses after the funeral. Costs also rise, and not all prepayment plans keep prices locked in. Funeral homes can be bought by a company that won't honor prepaid commitments.


Also, prepaying can be advantageous for low-income individuals facing late-life health issues by reducing their assets and allowing them to become eligible for Medicaid.


When her mother's health problems landed her in a nursing home last summer, Sandra Beckwith, 58, a freelance writer and author in Fairport, N.Y., prepaid the funeral with her mother's income. "If I hadn't done that, I would have had to pass the hat among siblings when the time came to pay," Beckwith says, "and we didn't want to do that if we didn't have to."


Beckwith, whose 84-year-old mother is still fortunately among the living, prepaid $8,000 to the funeral home, most of which came from her mother's meager assets, as well as $1,500 that Medicaid kicked in. Medicaid will allow as much as $1,500 (approximately; amount varies state to state) to be counted toward a funeral instead of as assets.


For a funeral, $1,500 "is not nearly enough," says Beckwith. But it's better than what Social Security offers. A surviving spouse or child who is eligible for benefits receives $255 to go toward burial costs.


Have a budget, no-frills funeral. Many of your costs can drop with a little forethought. That can be hard if you're in the throes of grief, but you should try to remember:


link to rest of article

10 Tips

to stay ahead of the curve


  1. Subscribe. There are so many free electronic and, to a lesser extent, hard copy newsletters and magazines available. Sign up for all of them. If you don't find any use in them after awhile, unsubscribe. No money is wasted, so no harm, no foul.
  2. Diversify your information sources. Sign up to receive information from as many outlets as you can from outside the [death-care] industry. No one profession has a brain trust on ideas, and other industries have likely experienced similar challenges. Learning about issues from a different perspective and seeing a different course taken to find a solution can sometimes be invaluable.
  3. Education, education, education. You know that in real estate, it's all about location, location, location. But in every profession, knowledge equals power. Attend as many relevant conferences and webinars as possible. LINK HERE FOR WCCFA "COLLEGE" REGISTRATION!
  4. Talk to your children or grandchildren. Statistics prove that most fashion, technological and social trends catch fire with teens and tweens first, then filter up through the generations in some variations. Find out what they're excited about. It's likely going to be a facet of pop culture soon.
  5. Diversify your staff. Diversity at the workplace is essential. It allows for a wide choice of solutions and, given the global market we work in nowadays, you are selling to a broad range of cultures. You need to understand your customers before you can effectively serve their needs.
  6. Brainstorm like crazy. Don't limit what comes out of your head. You may be limiting your success.
  7. Be humble. It is the humble that believe that there is always more room for improvement.
  8. Make small bets. Those who attended ICCFA's 2012 Fall Management Conference will recognize this tip. Keynote speaker Jason Jennings shared examples of this, most notably pertaining to Starbucks. A customer at one store in the Pacific Northwest asked why it didn't serve oatmeal. The one store tried it, and it worked. It's now sold at stores worldwide and is one of Starbucks' top-selling products.
  9. Stay hungry. The company whose goal is to loft along just to make more money will eventually sink. Always work toward a goal, whether it be improving your products or services or broadening your scope. Benjamin Franklin said, "When you finish changing, you're finished."
  10. Give credit where credit is due. Leaders with an eye to the future hand out praise, but back it up with real rewards: promotions, raises, bonuses or other tangible tokens of appreciation. It motivates your people, not only to apply themselves with enthusiasm toward building the company's future but to stick around longer than they might otherwise.


Author Rob Treadway is ICCFA's director of communications and membership services. Article sourced fromAmerican Cemetery Magazine for February 2013.

Premier New Jan-13

Liability-safe cremation procedures are necessary

from receiving to final return


Policies and procedures that cover recordkeeping and guarantee an appropriate standard of care to ensure liability-safe cremation don't end once the deceased is cremated.


Similar to the necessity to establish procedures to verify the correct human remains are cremated, every firm should implement policies and procedures during the final stages when cremated human remains are returned to the authorized representative to avoid potential mistakes.


Notably, procedures regarding returning cremated human remains protect both the family of the deceased and the firm. Practicing correct identification procedures when returning cremated human remains is critical; and if not done correctly it could cost your firm profits, legal liability and unwanted press.

Wilbert 4-2012  

Accordingly, policies regarding cremation must cover procedures from before the time the deceased is released to the crematory until the time the cremated human remains are released to the authorized representative at the funeral home.


Treat cremated human remains with the same level of dignity and respect as a deceased to be embalmed.


Liability-safe cremation requires not only a systematic approach but a respectful one. A factor many funeral home owners don't consider when developing cremation procedures is the manner in which the cremated human remains are handled.


Both funeral homes and crematories most identify and address the risks involved with providing cremation survices to ensure their business's financial future and reputation. If staff members consider cremation cases less important than burial cases that attitude is reflected in their actions, from the way the cremated human remains are handled to how they are stored prior to delivery to the family.


If the staff does not make the extra effort to assure the process is carried out with dignity, it increases the opportunity for careless handling, which leads to lawsuits. The level of reverence given to cremation cases is also broadcast in interactions with family members, such as when making arrangements or delivering cremated human remains. This can greatly impact overall customer satisfaction and may be the difference between lost or gained revenue opportunities.


Once the cremated remains are back in control of the funeral home's employees, everyone must continue to remember that the remains were someone's mother, father, sibling or child. On the way back to the funeral home, the cremated remains should never be carried like a football or placed in the trunk of the auto. Transportation must be made with dignity and respect.


This standard of care continues once the cremated human remains arrive back at the funeral home until they are claimed by the authorized representative or taken to the cemetery for burial. For example, storing cremated human remains on hallway shelves, an arranger's desk or behind the office manager's desk is unacceptable as those are not secured locations.


Remember, cremated human remains cannot be replaced if lost. To prevent loss, every funeral home should store cremated human remains in a secured location with limited access until they are ready for release or transfer to a cemetery.


And while cremated human remains are temporarily stored in a secured location, they must never be stacked on top of each other. Just like you would not stack human remains on top of each other, cremated human remains must not be stacked.


Locked closets or locked file cabinets are acceptable storage areas. However, many funeral homes don't have an available area that can safely hold cremated human remains.


In such cases, a Gladiator cabinet, which comes with shelving and a lockable door, is a good solution. Gladiator cabinets made by Whirlpool cost about $300 and are available at big box home improvement stores. Using such containers allows funeral homes to place the cabinet somewhere that works in the funeral home instead of carving out an area that is needed for another purpose.


Part 2 will deal with documents and extended services.


Author Jim Starks, CFuE, CCrE, adds: Whenever I write an article on cremation, I attempt to upgrade the cremation procedures that many of the death care providers are currently following. These procedures may take more time or may add cost to your firm. If they do, you may want to research what you are charging and adjust to reflect the dignity and respect that everyone needs to have when dealing with the consumers that chose cremation.


Grounds Maintenance Roundtable


For cemeteries, it's all about the first impression. A well-maintained property sends a clear message to families - we care. But green grass, properly pruned trees and pothole-free roads don't happen by accident. To find out why grounds maintenance needs to be an integral part of any cemetery operation, we talked with Anthony Desmond, vice president of field operations for Cypress Hills Cemetery and Canarsie Cemetery, both in New York City, and arborist Neil Hendrickson, Ph.D., of Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories.


What are the biggest grounds maintenance issues cemeteries are facing?


Desmond: Generally speaking, grounds maintenance can be a daunting task, especially for larger or older cemeteries. I believe the most difficult challenge cemeteries face is time management. Beyond the daily routine of grass cutting, perpetual care maintenance, handling service requests and cleaning recent burials, many more items tend to pop up constantly. This includes resetting stones, tree removal, managing immediate complaints and a host of other projects and responsibilities. It is imperative to have an efficient but flexible schedule to handle everything that may come up in a particular day or week. If items start to fall through the cracks, you will find yourself playing catch-up and you won't be able to address immediate issues effectively. This can become extremely distressful when natural disasters, such as our recent Superstorm Sandy, impair the operations of the cemetery and sets in motion restoration projects which could take many, many months to complete.

matthews 3-2-12   

Hendrickson: From a strictly arboricultural point of view, our experience has been that funding for tree work and plant health care is often minimal or absent. Preventive care can prevent or reduce some tree and shrub damage or loss in storms and in insect and disease outbreaks.


Cemeteries with mostly mature tree populations that haven't been proactively planting new plants can suffer large losses among those mature trees in storms like Sandy - or in any severe storm, ice or snow event.


This proved to be a big problem with all the mature tree loss after the recent storms. If younger generations of trees are already in place, the impact of mature losses is somewhat mitigated.


When determining a cemetery's annual budget, what are the must-have items that need to be included?


Desmond: Cemeteries need to account for many different types of items in regard to grounds maintenance. The most important budget allocation in my mind is payroll. It goes without saying, that if you don't have the men or women to take care of the job, then the job will never get done.


Additionally, it is important to allocate funds for equipment purchases such as grass machines, snow blowers and chainsaws, as well as the fuel you need to run those machines and any other trucks or vehicles used in the field. Seed and fertilizer are needed for the maintenance of all the graves and must always be on hand. For cemeteries constantly striving to improve their appearance, an allocation for cement and road work is necessary to restore older roads, create new curbing and repair sidewalks and pathways.


Hendrickson: From our perspective, assuming the cemetery has a tree and/or shrub population, money for their care is critical. This includes pruning - at least for risk reduction - and basic health care to prevent insect and disease outbreaks.


Many cemeteries are now outsourcing some grounds maintenance tasks. Is this a good financial decision?


Desmond: I believe outsourcing grounds maintenance can be a very good decision financially depending on the size of your grounds and the amount of activity you have. For example, a 200-acre cemetery that has hundreds of daily visitors in all parts of the cemetery may need upwards of 15 to 20 employees just to maintain the grounds. some costs that may be associated with each employee include salary, health insurance, equipment and fuel. This cost spread over 20 employees ends up being a significant amount of money, and with health care premiums continually rising, the cost is constantly increasing. By contracting out grounds maintenance, you can avoid the burden of salaries, health insurance and liability in some cases.


Additionally, maintenance contractors tend to be specialized, highly-trained individuals, who will provide a higher quality product because they can focus solely on that task.


Hendrickson: This is a good decision, and not only from our perspective. Having in-house grounds crews doing tree work is both difficult and risky: They usually don't have adequate safety training, nor have they been taught the standards for proper pruning and plant health care. They might lack proper equipment, or the time it takes to maintain it.


In the long run, the benefits of outsourcing exceed its costs because properly trained, insured professionals are going to work safer, quicker and perform care of more consistently high quality.


How does the weather impact grounds maintenance?


Desmond: Major weather anomalies can severely hamper grounds maintenance. Our most recent example is Superstorm Sandy. Some cemeteries are still struggling to deal with restoring property back to its original appearance. The storm toppled many trees, which in turn took out fencing, monuments, lot enclosures and buildings in some cases.


Beyond major storms, periods of heavy rain, no rain, extreme heat or cold will always create challenges for grounds maintenance. This could also affect the bottom line if the cemetery does not anticipate certain seasonal weather conditions and plants sod or applies fertilizer only to see it burn out. Weather factors will always be there and extreme weather will always hurt, but cemeteries can protect themselves by being aware of the dangers and being as prepared as possible to combat them.


Hendrickson: Weather in the form of flooding, wind, snow and ice loading, plus thunderstorms and lightning all impact tree care and maintenance. Wind is the greatest risk trees experience in their lifetimes. As we saw in Sandy, high winds can cause large losses.


If salt is used on cemetery roads in winter, it can easily damage trees and shrubs. Proper tree care can help offset or remediate this impact.


Pruning and removal is sometimes weather-dependent. In winter, frozen ground can allow vehicles access to places they might not otherwise be able to go.


Winter work for tree pruning or removal is usually not only cost-effective, but prompt, as leaves are off the trees, and business often slows somewhat.


Sourced from American Cemetery magazine for February 2013.



Cremation is considerably cheaper than an open funeral. The average cost, according to the Cremation Association of North America, is $1,650, which includes a memorial service. Without the memorial service, an average cremation is $725.


If you're cremating, the service could be held in a place other than a funeral home to bring costs down, says Barbara Newman Mannix, president of A Dignified Life, which specializes in planning end-of-the-life issues, like estate planning and enrolling in a nursing home, for people in New York City and surrounding areas. "You could have the service at a park, a church, or another no- or low-cost venue, so you don't have to pay for a service or funeral venue," says Mannix.


It's also a good idea to be upfront with the funeral director about your finances. "Every funeral home sees a variety of families, some who have just a little bit of money or virtually nothing," Robinson says.


In other words, if you're low on funds, funeral directors get it, and the best of them will steer you to inexpensive alternatives. Marty Strohofer, vice president of marketing at Aurora Casket Company, says there are cheaper caskets than the many that go for $2,000 or $3,000 and higher. He says you can opt for a 20-gauge steel casket, which is priced closer to $1,000, or a cloth-covered casket, which can be found in the $500 range.


The elements of a funeral service don't have to be expensive, Robinson says. You could bring in your own flowers rather than buying them through the funeral home, for example.


Donate the body to science. Like pre-planning a funeral, this is a decision best made before death. It may sound creepy to some, but there's no question that people who leave their body to medical science are doing a service, and most medical research facilities that accept bodies handle all of the transportation and burial costs. In fact, many research facilities offer an annual memorial service for those who have donated their body to medical science, and if you prefer not to receive an urn of ashes, many will put the body in a repository for bones or bodies of the dead.


But do your research first. For starters, donating your body to science is different than donating organs (since the organs are taken but the body sticks around for the funeral), and if you donate your body, you can't also be an organ donor (researchers don't want your body without the organs).

Family members may get your remains fairly quickly. MedCure, based in Portland, Ore., will send the cremated ashes to family members four to six weeks after death. Science Care, based in Phoenix, returns them three to five weeks later. But many facilities won't return the remains for two or three years, which may bother some family members who are looking for the closure of scattering ashes.


You could [just] not claim the body. Nobody is suggesting you don't claim a loved one. But if you're low on funds and you can't see any other option for a distant relative or acquaintance, unclaimed bodies are taken care of by the local or state government.


If you go that route, "you'll never know what happened to them," says a pained-sounding Mannix.


Often, unclaimed bodies are cremated by the local government and the remains are held until something can be done with them. Every year, Los Angeles holds a mass funeral for unclaimed bodies; last December, mourners, chaplains, and county officials said goodbye to 1,656 people, most of whom died in 2009. It's also common for an unclaimed body to be offered to a medical school for research or perhaps sent to a body farm, where human decomposition is studied.


In which case, you may be better off not knowing what happened.

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 



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Combination memorial park, funeral home, on-site crematory and reception center offering an opportunity for a self-motivated, competent team-worker to assist us with our before-need and aftercare programs. We offer an excellent opportunity for follow-up, file uploads and a staff that believes in pre-funding options. Aggressive commission schedule for funeral and cemetery. Email resumes to kirk@hawthornefh.com or call 360-424-1154 to schedule a time to visit.


Kirk S. Duffy, Funeral Director/President

Hawthorne Funeral Home, On-Site Crematory and Memorial Park - Mount Vernon, Washington

Gilbertson Funeral Home - Stanwood, Washington

Stanwood Cemetery Association, Inc. - Stanwood, Washington

Hawthorne Pet Loss Service and Crematory - Mount Vernon, Washington



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.
16212 Bothell-Everett Highway, F183, Mill Creek, WA 98012 
P: 360-668-2120 or 888-522-7637 F: 360-282-6535 

The WCCFA Insider is published ten times per year by and for the members of the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association. Portions of the information in this publication are taken from other sources which we believe to be reliable and which are not necessarily complete statements of all the available data.

The services of an attorney or an accountant should be sought in connection with any legal

or tax matter covered. Conclusions are based solely upon our best judgment

and analysis of technical and industry information sources.

MAIL ONLY 16212 Bothell-Everett Highway, F183, Mill Creek, WA 98012-Phone 360.668.2120 or 888.522.7637.Fax 360-282-6535. News articles, editorials, press releases, commentary are all welcomed.

For information about membership, advertising or editorial policy contact Judy Faaberg, Executive Director.

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