Branding 28
topThe Insider
News for Death Care Professionals
Vol. III
 Issue I
Update on WCCFA Web site
Our Web site is now actively undergoing a complete re-design and re-branding using our new logos and colors. It will also be written in newer more user-friendly code that will make it much more
dynamic. We are exploring the best way to list members for ease of contact by the public, and are investigating offering a supplier-of-the-month ad marquee program that could bring in a little more revenue.
If any of you are technically inclined and would like to volunteer as a "Web master" for the WCCFA please contact us at

Spring Conference:

21st Annual College of

Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Studies


We're putting the final touches on the program for the March 19 College of Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Studies. Our 21st annual College is going to feature some terrific speakers and topics, with three "tracks" of study: Cemetery Operations, Deathcare Profession and General Management.


Speakers and topics include (but are not limited to, because we're still finalizing a couple things):

  • Cemetery Curb Appeal: the Proper Ergonomics for your Hallowed Ground (John Zyck)
  • The WOW Factor (Dennis Boser, Jr.)
  • Customer Relations Management Revisited (Chris Rose)
  • Paul Elvig (TBA)
  • Cemetery Operations: Trials and Tribulations in Changing Times - round table with Marcia Wazny
  • Workplace Leadership (Dennis Boser, Jr.)
  • Internal Customer Service (Jack Norvell)
  • Jon Reece (TBA)
  • Deathcare Trends (Kirk Duffy/panel)
  • True Aftercare
  • Safety Programs, L & I Updates

There probably will be just a single general session this year, meaning there will be up to 15 different break out sessions. What if you can't be in two - or three - places at once? Easy: send several people and compare notes after the conference! Though our costs have risen this year we are holding the line at $99 registration ($94 discount for multiple attendees).


Mark March 19 on your calendar, and be watching for your registration form.

Washington State Funeral & Cemetery Board meets February 4: 

Our regulatory fees are on the agenda!


Link here for the meeting agenda.

WCCFA members are strongly encouraged to attend this meeting. We need to be aware of what our regulators are considering and doing. It is in our own best interest to be proactive in affairs that directly affect our bottom line. FOR EXAMPLE: item 3.4 on the agenda: "Funeral and cemetery fee discussion." What do you think this might mean? Attend the meeting and find out.


Funeral directors can earn continuing education credits by attending.

February 4, 2014

9:00 a.m.

405 Black Lake Blvd. SW

Room 2209

Olympia, WA 98502

Time to throw a few rocks? Pat says "Yes." 


Guest Editorial by Pat Hollick

Richland Cemetery Association and Einan's Funeral Home, Richland


Greetings and welcome to the New Year. It would appear that we've been here before struggling with our own version of Ground Hog day or as Yogi Berra once said it "It's Deja vu all over again". I do not say this out of disrespect or malice but rather from a desperate hope that we can better understand each other as an association and grow younger in our thoughts and ideas instead of disconnected and withdrawn from one another.


What am I talking about? I'm talking about our responsibilities to each other as members of this association and what we can and should be doing at such a critical time in this profession's history. In 2013 the WCCFA Board set out to produce an ad campaign that would start to combat the negative media that this profession has been beaten over the head with for years, and take control of the narrative with a positive massage. Not a new idea for sure but one that's been a long time coming. Thinking there was initial buy in, a survey was sent to all of you regarding this subject via e-mail but only twelve responses came back from the entire membership. Twelve responses! I would have preferred 100 came back and told us to all go to hell than twelve trickle in like some drippy faucet you can't turn off.


Although I was a Board member at the time and felt, as I still do, that an ad campaign would help this association immensely, that is not the point of my message to you. We can disagree on this idea and move on to other issues we are faced with as an association but what we cannot  afford to do is become disengaged and disinterested. Too often we replace a warm hello and friendly voice with a cold keyboard and emotionless e-mail. We text, fax and scan one another so much we've forgotten how to really communicate. I mean I don't know about you, but I'd at least like to be kissed first before you delete me. Maybe as a Board and membership this is where some of our apathy and disinterest comes from?  


Years ago the Board created a liaison committee in which each Board member was given a list of members to call and say hello to. These conversations I believe were effective in getting buy-in from the members and let them know the Board was listening to them and inviting their participation. The current Board has decided it's time to revisit this idea and reconnect with one another. So expect to be hearing from a Board member soon. You can run, but you cannot hide.


Big ideas start with conversations and ripple outward from member to member. Big ideas are hard work and take an engaged membership throwing rocks at its leaders once in a while to make them understand the issues. We as an association cannot create the future without each other.


This new year should be one full of wonder and possibility. These are exciting times; yes, they're a little scary, but if we don't feel a little uncomfortable when experimenting with some of our business practices how will we ever evolve ourselves from caterpillars to butterflies?


Less than three months from now (March 19) is the Spring Conference, our 21st Annual College of Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Studies. I'd like to challenge each of you to reach out and call-no texting or e-mail allowed-at least one death care professional and reconnect at the grass-roots level. Better yet call someone you don't know and make a new friend. Find out what excites them about this business then invite them to the Spring Conference. Over the next few months leading up to the March conference follow-up articles could be written on how this campaign of phone calls is progressing. Who knows? They could drive new membership and help create and inspire the big ideas that will move us to the future culminating with an active and recharged membership meeting in March.


Action begets progress. This should be more than just a New Year's Eve resolution that gets forgotten somewhere in mid-February, left to ride lonely atop last year's exercise equipment. I ask that all of us resolve to get involved in 2014 and get as many people as possible to do the same. This is your association! Where is it going and what is it going to look like when it gets there? It's up to you, and all of us.


So with that I'd like to leave you with a quote from Peter Drucker, "Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work."


-yours in progress,



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The Title 40 Time Bomb: Post-Cremation Metal, the EPA and Your Business

Welcome to one of WCCFA's newest members, Progressive Environmental Services! The author will be a guest speaker at our annual convention in August. 


By Sheldon Goldner

author Sheldon Goldner


Cremationists take great care in the proper and dignified handling and disposition of cremated remains. They are familiar with and follow local, state and federal laws that may apply to the burial or scattering of cremains.


But not all cremationists are as knowledgeable or careful about the handling of other byproducts of cremation, especially heavy metals. Nor are they fully aware of the potential liabilities involved. As cremation becomes increasingly popular and the amount of post-cremation metal increases, it's an issue that every crematory must carefully consider.

The EPA and Title 40


The Environmental Protection Agency was created by Congress in 1970 to protect human health and safeguard the environment. One way in which the EPA fulfills its mission is by regulating the management and disposal of hazardous wastes per Title 40 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations.


Title 40 contains the laws that pertain to the protection of the environment. Part 266 of Title 40 describes standards for the management of specific hazardous wastes, including post-cremation "heavy metals." This section has a direct impact on owners and operators of crematories and other funeral businesses that handle cremated remains.


Heavy metals - most often found in the precious metals of post-cremation dental scrap - are metals that when improperly buried or dumped have the potential to leach into the ground, pollute the ground water, damage the environment and harm people's health. These metals include gold, silver, platinum, palladium and iridium. They are found in dental fillings and medical implants which survive cremation because they have a melting point much higher than the typical retort temperature of 1600 degrees Fahrenheit.


According to the CANA annual statistics report, there were approximately 1 million cremations in the United States in 2011. These yielded approximately 200 tons of post-cremation metal. Only a percentage of it was recycled; the bulk of crematories are still burying this metal.

Cradle-to-grave liability


The EPA views post-cremation heavy metals as hazardous waste. Under the EPA's "cradle-to-grave" concept (their words, not mine) the crematory owner is now liable for the safe, legal and environmentally-responsible disposal of such waste. It is an individual and a corporate liability that can pass to the operator's heirs, even if he sells the crematory or closes it.


The first requirement is that all materials that contain precious metals, and in particular heavy metals, must be sent to an EPA-licensed facility for recycling and refining. The facility must maintain a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest certifying that all EPA laws concerning collection, shipment and refining of such materials were followed properly.


The manifest follows the waste from the crematory to the disposal site, creating a paper trail that will reveal and record any problems during shipment. Information in the manifest includes the type and amount of waste being shipped, as well as the identity of the transporter and the shipment's destination. When the waste reaches the end of its journey, the owner of the destination facility must retain a signed copy of the manifest to the crematory, indicating that the waste shipment was successfully completed.


A proper EPA manifest will end the crematory's cradle to grave liability. Merely presenting a letter stating that a facility is recycling in an EPA-compliant manner is not sufficient proof.

If the EPA Comes to Visit


If the EPA suspects that a crematory is disposing of precious metals from dental remains in an improper manner, it may inspect the crematory as well as the scrap metal broker and the recycling company. If a violation is discovered during an inspection from either EPA or an authorized state authority may pursue enforcement action, ranging from an informal letter of notification to shutdown of the facility to civil and criminal penalties that may include fines and/or imprisonment. Fines for the worst recurrent transgressions can exceed $27,500 per day for each uncorrected violation. 


Link here for the rest of this article


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Best Practices:

Well-maintained cemetery grounds are key


Well-maintained grounds are a key component to any cemetery's success. Whether your cemetery is two acres or 200, making sure every inch of it remains eye appealing is key to getting people through the gates and coming back regularly. It's a job that never ends, but if you can develop some good grounds maintenance habits, you'll reap the benefits for years to come.


Jerry Wantz, vice president of operations for Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati, believes that the overall appearance of a cemetery is what the cemetery is judged on. Therefore, it's a good idea to think of what a visitor would look at when he or she visits your grounds. "That's neatness, cleanliness of the grounds, as well as the appearance of your grounds and your employees," Wantz said. "If we can offer the finest in appearance and service, everything else can fall in line."


And just because something might not bother you - like a broken tree limb off to the side of the road - that doesn't mean that some of your visitors won't be put off by it. "Remove your blinders and look at the whole picture," Wantz said.


Having your grounds maintained gives your cemetery a sense of order and care, said Scott Jamieson, vice president of corporate partnerships and national recruiting with Bartlett Tree Experts, headquartered in Connecticut. "I've been in many cemeteries where they don't have that (sense), and others that are kept up nicely," he said. "If something is maintained, it feels better being in that space."


Brad Kraft, general manager of Floral Haven Crematory, Funeral Home and Cemetery in Broken Arrow, Okla., said the condition of a cemetery's grounds and facilities represent the level of service and care its employees provide. "The subconscious mind is much more powerful than the conscious mind, and whether they know it or not, visitors are sizing up the level of service you provide by the condition of your property - both facilities and grounds," he said.


And obviously, having an attractive, well cared for landscape can help drive sales. "This is the same with any landscape, whether it is a restaurant, a resort or a shopping mall, but it can be even more important for cemeteries," said Lane Ledbetter, an associate with the Cemetery Planning Resource Alliance in Denver. "Because families may visit often, and are grieving and remembering their loved ones while on the property, they tend to want to feel good about their family members' final resting place, and feel that they are being respected. An attractive, well cared for cemetery landscape can do this for families being served, but can also project an attractive, competent appearance to those driving by who may need to select cemetery services in the future."

Sightlife 6-2013  

Right on schedule

Making sure a comprehensive maintenance schedule is in place is one of the best ways to make sure everything gets done - and gets done right. Having a well-documented, year-round maintenance schedule is essential, Ledbetter said. "Regardless of what part of the country one might be in, landscape maintenance is a four season proposition," he said. "Everyone can benefit by understanding when the various maintenance tasks need to be accomplished." A good landscape maintenance schedule, Ledbetter said, should be comprehensive enough to propose and track tasks on an annual basis but also be specific enough to manage month-to-month duties.


Maintenance schedules, according to Ledbetter, typically include task projections for turf care, tree and shrub care, ornamental plant care, product applications, soil management, irrigation system maintenance, and seasonally-specific tasks and activities. Staff training, equipment maintenance and periodic maintenance reviews should also be worked into the schedule, as well as the compilation of actual costs and performances on a yearly basis for additional analysis and comparison. "The better your grounds maintenance workers understand what needs to happen when, the more continuity they can maintain," he added.


Link here for the rest of the article


Featuring new member Century Plastics, Ltd. 

Welcome to another of WCCFA's newest members: Century Plastics, Ltd.! You can see their products at our Spring College on March 19. 


Medallion Cremation Urn Vaults are designed and manufactured by Century Plastics, a rotational molding plastic manufacturer founded in 1975. With over 38 years of applying technical expertise to create molded plastic products for demanding applications, it was a natural extension to design and manufacture the most comprehensive line of urn vaults and infant/child casket liners available; thus inspired Medallion Cremation Urn Vaults and Casket Liners. These innovative vaults and liners are designed to last.


Working closely with cemeterians and funeral homes to learn what styles and sizes would best suit the needs of the industry, we created cremation urn vaults that feature the classic look of cut granite; a great comfort to bereaved families and preferred to industrial-looking containers. The design and sizing of the vaults allows bereaved family and friends to place photographs, favorite items, letters, and beloved articles alongside the urn for interment.


Pleased with our new, dignified, durable and attractive urn vaults, local cemeteries then requested two additional, larger sizes of this innovative and unique product. This marked the formal entry of Century Plastics into the funeral services industry with the design now known as the Heritage vaults, currently available in three sizes.


Soon, two other local cemeterians requested a new design for their specific needs: 

  • A larger urn vault that would accommodate two 7 " diameter urns

  • A cylindrical vault that would permit at 18" auger to be used to "dig" the hole for the vault. 

Within a short time, these two new styles of urn vaults were introduced to the Medallion family, launching our Companion and Silhouette urn vaults.


lees ad 2012-13 for web Why cremation vaults?

Many bylaws in Canada and the United States require the use of cremation urn vaults to protect cremation urns from the weight of the soil, subsoil elements and the effects of ongoing grounds maintenance and the occasional need for disinterment. Vaults prevent uneven settling on the ground surface, maintaining the beauty of the cemetery lawns while ensuring they are easy to maintain.


The difference between Medallion Cremation Urn Vaults and other interment containers is our ability to provide our clients with affordable, lightweight and durable urn vaults and liner products that are available in several different styles and sizes. Additionally, all Medallion products are reassuringly dignified in Black Granite or Sandstone colors. They feature a unique design for additional strength and functionality.


Medallion Cremation Urn Vaults are only available through funeral homes and cemeteries. If you are a funeral director or cemeterian and wish to provide our cremation urn vaults to the families you serve, contact us.   


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Returning to the extremely popular Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, the ICCFA Annual Convention & Expo offers the best programming, the best trade show and the best overall experience of any of the national death care conventions!


Link here for the complete event information and registration form. 


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Greening the Funeral Industry:

Funerals, Fiber and Fabric


Much of our discourse on green and natural burial is focused on the biodegradability and toxicity of casketed remains in a cemetery burial. The five standards published by the Green Burial Council (GBC) in 2011 for shrouds, urns, and burial containers extend our thinking on green burial to also include local-sourcing of organic or sustainable materials. Let us explore the fibers and fabrics that are used in caskets and burial shrouds and how they measure up to our talking points on green and natural burial.


In previous installments of this column we've used five key talking points to measure how green a funeral product or service might be: biodegradability, toxicity, local-sourcing, sustainability, and carbon life cycle assessment. Each of these points is evident of the GBC standards for burial containers, but not all five of these are necessarily in alignment all the time. There are compromises to be made. If we view each of these points through a lens of a harmonious and healthy environment for all living things, the compromises are easier to discuss.


Milne 2013 World-wide fabric production consumes 1,074 billion kWh of electricity or 140 million tons of coal and 2 trillion gallons of water annually. Here in the US the textile industry accounts for 1 ton, or 5%, of every individual's annual carbon footprint. So when it comes to maintaining a healthy environment for living things, fiber and fabric matter.


The impact of fabric production can be broken into two components. First, the production of fiber to make thread and second, the energy required to weave thread or yarn into fabric. The energy required to operate a fabric mill is about the same for both synthetic and natural fibers. The differentiation is on the production side. Natural fibers like hemp and cotton are cultivated and harvested. Animal fibers like wool also require land and water resources to raise and harvest. The good news is that agri-fibers are renewable and sustainable. While synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon do not have an agricultural impact, synthetics are produced from petroleum or other chemicals which have significant toxicity and carbon emissions.


Overall, the heaviest polluters and carbon producers are synthetic fabrics. Polyester generates 21 lbs of CO2 emissions per ton of fabric produced. Acrylics produce more than 25 lbs of CO2 and nylon is worse yet. Domestic cotton by comparison, emits 13 lbs of CO2 per ton of fabric. Organic cotton does not use nitrogen fertilizer. Just 1 ton of nitrogen fertilizer emits more than 7 tons of CO2! Domestic organic cotton weighs in at just over 5 lbs of CO2 per ton of fabric produced. Organic cotton emits less than 1/4th of the CO2 that is emitted by the same amount of polyester. In short, synthetics are bad, natural fibers are good, and organic fibers are better yet.


Descriptions for conventional casket interiors include words like taffeta, velvet, crepe, pebble, chalet, and chiffon, but nearly all conventional casket interiors are made from polyester. Polyester fabric is available in various different weave patters and textures that are durable, wrinkle-resistant, and easy to work with for making casket interiors. Polyester is less than half the cost of cotton and far less than the cost of organic cotton. So from a manufacturer's perspective, polyester is a logical choice for making casket interiors.


If we revisit the talking points on greening the funeral industry, any natural fiber-based fabric is biodegradable and organic fabrics have a smaller carbon footprint. Local-sourcing, however, limits our choices in the US. The GBC standards limit material sourcing to within 3000 miles making domestic organic cotton a good choice. While some Egyptian, Indian, and Romanian organic fabrics may have a smaller carbon footprint than even domestic organic cotton, these materials compromise on the local-sourcing standard.


Matthews 7-1-13 On a side note, there is a growing variety of green burial caskets made from natural fiber plants including wicker, willow, cane, seagrass, bamboo, and banana leaves. While all of these are 100% biodegradable, few meet the local-sourcing guideline for distribution in the US. European willow caskets and Indonesian seagrass caskets must be imported racking up carbon emissions from transportation. Some of these natural fiber materials also fall under scrutiny in their production practices. For example, the bamboo industry, while touting the sustainability of bamboo as a renewable resource has become subject of criticism for cultivating in marginal waters, displacing local fishing industries, polluting waters, and unfair labor practices.


The textile industry has organized the new Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) to address the many issues in world textile production. This new standard is a tool for an international common understanding of environmentally friendly production systems and social accountability in the textile sector. The standard is promoting the use of certified organic fibers, prohibition of all GMOs and their derivatives; and prohibition of a long list of synthetic chemicals (for example: formaldehyde and aromatic solvents are prohibited; dyestuffs must meet strict requirements such as threshold limits for heavy metals, no AZO colorants or aromatic amines and PVC cannot be used for packaging).


So what is the Green Verdict for fabrics in caskets and burial shrouds? We should look for fabrics made from natural fibers for their biodegradability. Organic fibers are slightly better in terms of carbon life cycle assessment. On local-sourcing, domestic cotton is widely available. Organic cotton is better from a toxicity perspective. Interesting alternatives not as easily available as cotton include lyocell, a wood-pulp fabric produced with low energy, fewer emissions, less water, and no bleach. There are also eco-friendly fabrics made from plants including hemp, soy, and linen (from flax). These, too, are great green alternatives to the conventional polyester. Animal-based fabrics including cashmere (from goat hair) and alpaca wool would be green alternatives, but are expensive and long-lasting, and thus may be better suited to clothing than casket interiors. Domestic organic cotton might be the greenest and most readily available option for natural burial caskets and shrouds distributed in the US.


Article by Jonas A. Zahn sourced from Funeral Home & Cemetery News Dec. 2013 with permission. Zahn is the president and founder of Northwoods Casket Co., a manufacturer of environmentally friendly caskets made in Wisconsin. He has been involved in casket-making since building a casket for his Grandfather in 2004 and now distributes sustainable caskets to funeral homes throughout the United States. Jonas has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Jonas can be reached by email at Visit Northwoods Casket online at


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OM Ad 6-2013


Floragraph Honorees "Light Up the World"

at the 125th Rose Parade 


When Hank Kerns, general manager of the West Seattle Group heard about this year's opportunity to sponsor an organ donor through Dignity Memorial and Donate Life at the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., the perfect candidate instantly came to mind-Joshua Walerysak.


Joshua's father, Tom, was a frequent visitor to the mausoleum and the first client Hank met as the new general manager of the West Seattle Group in July 2012. Each day, he visited his late son's resting place near closing time.


Joshua passed away at 12 years old and now lives on in three others through his donated kidneys and liver. To honor his gift of life, a floragraph, or a portrait constructed entirely from natural materials such as seeds, spices and crushed flowers was featured on the Donate Life float in this year's Rose Parade. Sponsorship from the Seattle market made the memorialization possible.


While planning for the events in Pasadena, Tom suddenly passed. He, too, chose to donate his organs to those in desperate need. The opportunity to join the festivities allowed his wife, Judy, to heal from the recent loss of her husband, while also paying tribute to her son.


Igniting Friendship and Mending Hearts
To families, the Dignity Memorial sponsorship is much more than an opportunity to recognize their loved ones. Events throughout the trip allow families of organ donors and recipients to bond over shared experiences. "Judy met so many people who were connected to her by loss and selfless sacrifice. It truly lifted her spirits," says Hank.


Sean Lapersonerie, who was an Iraq war veteran and sponsored by the Long Island market, was also memorialized on the Donate Life float. His mother, Marie, attended the events and experienced a similar situation.


"It meant a lot to me to share my story with others who knew exactly how I felt. I'm so grateful to have met people who received lifesaving organs from individuals just like my son. From the breakfasts, to lunches, to the Gala and the parade, every detail was perfectly executed and made us feel so special and loved," she says.


Illuminating Enduring Relationships
Equally enriching for associates, the opportunity puts the spotlight on our commitment to community and building enduring relationships. For David Holt, location manager at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas, participating in the Donate Life float is an experience he "will never forget."


"Families greeted us with hugs and expressed their gratitude for our sponsorship numerous times. This is a great way to promote the Dignity Memorial brand and the importance of organ donation," he says.


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Wilbert Precast PNG


New WCCFA Member/Director Liaison List 

 premier 2013-2014 for web

As mentioned in Pat Hollick's article above, the WCCFA Board has put together its 2014 Liaison Committee. You can link to it here. Member properties are listed alphabetically in the yellow-highlighted column. Your Liaison on the board is listed in the far-left column.


The purpose of the Liaison Committee is to link every voting member of the association directly to a board member, someone you can call when you have a question, an idea, a problem or, yes, even a complaint. More active members already know many of the board members, but those who can only attend conferences and conventions occasionally may feel somewhat isolated.


For the board's part, they can come to you with questions when the board is seeking member input, or let you know when something is going on you should know about right away.


Your Liaison contact will be in touch with you soon - but don't wait. You can contact your Liaison anytime you like. Link here for the list, including how to contact your own Liaison.


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Acquisition News: Top Three Stories of 2013 


In an industry that's changing every day, it's no surprise that there have been plenty of major developments when it comes to death care. Here are three stories we think made a splash in 2013, and will continue to be in the forefront of our minds as we enter the new year.


#1. StoneMor Partners Team Up with Archdiocese of Philadelphia

In September, the Levittown, Pa.-based Stonemor Partners announced in a news release it executed a lease and a management agreement with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Under this arrangement, StoneMor will operate archdiocesan cemeteries located throughout the five-county Philadelphia region for 60 years.


StoneMor will pay an initial $5.3 million lease payment, and beginning in the sixth year, it will begin to made additional payments. All told, it will pay the archdiocese $89 million over 35 years.


"We would love this to be an open door toward working with other archdioceses around the nation, because we think that there's a huge opportunity for us," John McNamara, director of investor relations for StoneMor, told Funeral Service Insider.


The 13 cemeteries included in the deal are: All Souls Cemetery, Coatsville; Calvary Cemetery, est Conshohocken; Cathedral Cemetery, Philadelphia; New Cathedral Cemetery, Philadelphia; Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon; Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham; Immaculate Heart of Mary Cemetery, Linwood; Resurrection Cemetery, Bensalem; Saint John Neumann Cemetery, Chalfont; Saint Michael Cemetery, Chester; Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery, Springfield; All Saints Cemetery, Newtown; and Holy Savior Cemetery, Penn Township. Altogether, the cemeteries cover 2,375 acres, according to McManara.


The deal will help solve some financial problems the archdiocese fenced, including an underfunded pension fund for priests and church employees, and a depleted trust and loan fund. The move comes on the heels of other cost-saving measures, including discontinuing the Catholic Standard and Times, the archdiocesan newspaper that had been published for 117 years, and laying off 45 employees.


Funeral Service Insider reported that StoneMor negotiated an important perk into the lease management deal: Proceeds from any future land sales to third parties will be shared among the parties - with 49 percent going to StoneMor. Depending on the cemetery, the archdiocese cannot withhold permission to sell a parcel up to 100 to 150, McNamara said, and there will likely be opportunities to sell parcels from Holy Savior, All Saints and All Souls cemeteries.


StoneMor has offered all full-time, year-round Catholic cemetery employees jobs through StoneMor, and those jobs will be protected for two years at their current base pay. Employees will also get health benefits through StoneMor, and vacation time will be at least partially based on seniority. "Our intent is to keep these employees whole, and we have a very strong track record of doing so in integrations like this," Larry Miller, president and CEO of StoneMor Partners, and in a news release.


#2. SCI Acquires Stewart

Death-care professionals throughout the country were buzzing when Service Corporation International announced in May that it would be buying Stewart Enterprises in a deal worth more than $1 billion.


Steward Enterprises, which operates 141 cemeteries and 217 funeral homes throughout the country, is certainly a big fish - one SCI had been trying to reel in for years. So when the deal was finally announced, there were a lot of questions on people's minds, and a lot of discussion and debating about what it would mean for the deathcare profession.

In a news release, Tom Ryan, president and CEO of SCI, said, "Throughout its 100-year history and for the last five decades of Frank Stewart's (chairman of the board of Stewart Enterprises) tremendous leadership, Stewart Enterprises has compiled an impressive portfolio of high-quality funeral homes and cemeteries across North America. This network of funeral homes and cemeteries, led by Stewart's outstanding 4,800 associates, enjoys a tremendous leadership position in their communities with a reputation of providing families with superior and compassionate service." He added that SCI was excited by the prospect of working alongside the Stewart associates and continuing to build on their success.


One of the major hurdles SCI faced in its attempts to acquire Stewart Enterprises was Frank Stewart Jr., who held about 30 percent of the voting shares needed for approval. But this time, Stewart is behind the deal, although he admitted in a news release that the decision to sell to SCI was not an easy one. "Over the generations, my family has worked tirelessly to build this firm. I care deeply about our people and the presence we have in the New Orleans area. I understand from SCI management that SCI intends to maintain an infrastructure presence in the city. The reason they want to acquire Stewart is because they know we have great talent and very committed people," he said. "They also want to enlarge their organization and geographic footprint through the acquisition of Stewart's premier businesses which enjoy an outstanding reputation of service. I am confident that our employees will have an even greater opportunity to build their careers working with SCI."


"I think this story was written more than 10 years ago," Dan Isard, founder and president of The Foresight Companies in Phoenix, told Funeral Service Insider. "The only two things that were not filled in were the date of the story and the price of the purchase."


A number of locations will likely need to be divested; the number of combined operating locations is 2,168 - 515 cemeteries and 1,653 funeral homes.


NOTE: There was only one Stewart property in Washington that was part of the acquisition, and that's Butterworth Funeral Home - Arthur A. Wright Chapel in Seattle.


#3. Foundation Partners Group

The Florida-based Foundation Partners Group saw a number of changes in 2013, including the resignation of its three remaining founding partners. In May, co-founder Paul Haarer, the company's vice president of development, left to take a job with NewBridge Group as a managing director. In September, Jim Price and Steve Shaffer resigned their positions as executive vice presidents of the company they helped found in 2010.


Price and Shaffer resigned nearly a year after the company was restructured by its board of directors and the Chicago-based investment firm, Sterling Partners. Prior to the restructuring, which saw Brad Rex named president and CEO, Shaffer had served as president and CEO, and Price had served as chief operating officer.


  Both men will remain investors in the company, which owns and operates 34 funeral homes and six cemeteries in 13 states. "We both are committed to staying involved in funeral service," Funeral Service Insider reported Price had said in an email. "However, both of us are going to take the balance of the year off."


Neither has commented on the reasons for their resignations, but other industry leaders have, including Isard, who told Funeral Service insider that losing Price and Shaffer is a big deal. "The loss of these two great guys will not impair Foundation Partners Group from making acquisitions, but it will lessen their ability to comprehend them with the same clarity as they would have a year ago," he said. "Steve is a masterful accountant and finance guy who knows what an investor group can expect from operations. Jim is a great operator. As such, Jim could give insight to the trends of a possible acquisition that people looking at the same financials, that do not have his 40 years of business experience, cannot see." And Tom Johnson, founder of Johnson Consulting Group in Scottsdale, Ariz., said the loss would almost certainly hurt Foundation Partners Group. "I can guess that some of the goals that were set when the company was formed were not met and the owners feel that they can do a better job without Jim and Steve," he told Funeral Service Insider. "I believe they will find that this will not be the case. They were lucky to have these two gentlemen, and I give their odds of success without them as very low."


In an email to company employees, Rex wrote that, "We will continue to move forward with our current vision and strategic approach to create experiences that redefine the funeral experience through innovation and a holistic customer experience. In the interim, I will lead all acquisition efforts."


Article by Lauren Moore sourced from American Cemetery magazine December 2013 with permission


Creating a safe place for the bereaved

on Valentine's Day 


Which holidays are the hardest for someone still mourning the loss of a loved one? Thanksgiving? Christmas? Birthdays? If the loved one was your spouse, wedding anniversaries can be painful, but there's one day when suddenly finding yourself alone instead of part of a loving couple can be especially difficult: Valentine's Day. While you're still missing that person and getting used to being single, the whole world is focused on celebrating love and marriage.


Last year, Hoff Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Minnesota brought widows and widowers together on February 14 for an afternoon of food, fun and fellowship with people in the same situation.


Funeral director Ashley Hoff brought the idea to the family firm from her internship at Mattson Funeral Home in Forest Lake, Minnesota. "We already did a Christmas memorial service where we invite back all our families and give people an ornament and light candles," Hoff said. "But the funeral home where I did my internship before I came home to work had done a Valentine's party."


So Hoff decided to try something similar at her family's firm. It worked out so well that it will be repeated this year.


The event details

The event started with registration at 11 a.m. People signed in for door prizes and also to vote on which one of three movies they wanted to watch. The choices were "Second Hand Lions," a comedy; "On Golden Pond," a story about an aging couple; and "Marley and Me," a story about a family's life with a rambunctious dog. The comedy won.


Lunch was served shortly thereafter, followed by the movie. The whole event lasted no more than three hours.


Hoff Funeral and Cremation Service has five locations. The party was held at the Winona facility, Hoff Celebration of Life Center, which is fairly centrally located in terms of the firm's service area but also, and more importantly, newly renovated.


"We had just done a huge addition and remodeled, so we had a nice event room at this location," Hoff said. "A majority of the people who attended had used this location, but we did get a fair amount of people from our other locations as well."


About 30 people attended, Hoff said, and their reaction was very positive. "They all loved it. We got close to 10 thank-you cards from people who attended.


"Other people called and told us they loved it and that it was so nice to not be at home alone and be able to come here and visit with other people in the same situation, especially on a day that's all about love when your spouse or significant other is gone."


"Our tables are set up to seat four or five. A couple of groups put tables together and every table was full; there was no one just sitting by themselves. Being from smaller towns, a lot of people do know each other a little bit. People sat and talked throughout the whole thing."


Time and Money

"Any staff, including funeral directors, who were available that day were on hand," Hoff said. During the event, "we made an announcement at the beginning thanking them all for coming, and then we made sure we all made our rounds and sat down at different tables for a little while to visit with people." Staff members also walked around during the movies to serve popcorn.


"All we really spent money on was the lunch and door prizes. We did a basic build-your-own-sandwich and soup lunch, so that wasn't too expensive. Door prizes included a few bottles of wine and some boxed chocolates. Besides that, there was postage for mailing out the invitations. Overall it was a pretty inexpensive event."

Polyguard 7-12  

Advertising and publicity

The party was not necessarily limited to people who had used Hoff Funeral Home, but that's who the attendees turned out to be. "We have five different locations, and we went back three years for each of those locations," Hoff said about how they selected who should receive invitations.


"We sent out a hand-addressed, handmade invitation to each person who had lost a spouse or significant other. We put a blurb in the paper as well, but I think everyone who came was someone we had personally invited."


"We hand-cut all these hearts and other pieces to make the invitations, and when we got done making them, we thought, 'Oh, next year we'll do something computer-generated, more polished.'


"But afterward we got so many comments about how nice it was to get something in the mail that you could tell was handmade, and in a hand-addressed envelope instead of with a printed l able. It turned out that was huge to people, so that's something we definitely won't change.


"I don't know if there is anything we would change. Everything went really smoothly and was very relaxed."


Through the newspaper item did not attract additional attendees, it did draw media coverage of the event.


"One of the newspapers - the daily newspaper in Winona - actually came out on that day and took pictures and wrote a story, and we were on the front page," Hoff said.


After all, it's not every day that there's a party going on at the local funeral home.


Advice for holding a similar event

"I would say just do everything you can to make it personal, just like you do in working with families on a daily basis. Thank people for coming and let them know you recognize what they're going through and that it's a tough time for them."


Done in-house, not involving outside vendors or partners or locations, this is an event that can be put together quickly.


"I think we only got the invitations out a week and a half or two weeks beforehand, because we decided kind of at the last minute to do it," Hoff said of last year's Valentine's Day party.


"This year we're definitely starting a little earlier to give people more time to make room in their schedules for it."


The event itself was "very easy to put together," Hoff said. "You could start a month ahead of time and have it done without a problem. There wasn't a whole lot of planning that really had to go into it other than ordering the food and just making sure you got the invitations out and had the facility ready."



Article by Susan Loving, editor of the ICCFA Magazine, sourced from the January 2014 issue with permission.



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ICCFA Washington Report:

Favorable treatment granted

for funeral and cemetery trusts


The U.S. Department of the Treasury has published final regulations on a new Medicare tax on trust income. Among the trusts potentially affected by this 3.8 percent tax, which took effect on January 1, 2013, are Qualified Funeral trusts (QFTs) and cemetery perpetual [endowment] care fund trusts. In March, the ICCFA submitted comments urging Treasury to exempt cemetery care fund income from the new tax entirely, and if any tax were imposed on QFT income, that it be levied at the beneficiary rather than the trust level.


ICCFA tax counsel Les Schneider reported "ICCFA's efforts to modify the regulations with respect to the application of the 3.8 percent Medicare tax on net investment income has been successful. The final section 1411 regulations were issued and the IRS agreed to exempt perpetual care trust funds entirely from the Medicare tax. In addition, the final regulations confirm that the Medicare tax applies separately to each beneficiary of a preneed contract that elects QFT status, which has the effect of exempting income up to $9,500 per beneficiary per year from the Medicare tax. This level of exemption probably takes care of all of ICCFA members' concerns. I think this favorable outcome confirms ICCFA's decision to take an activist role with respect to issues that the IRS raises within the cemetery and funeral industry."


While a few other funeral service groups also submitted comments to Treasury on this issue, they were confined to the QFT issue and did not address cemetery perpetual care fund trusts. The ICCFA was the only trade association that represented the interests of cemetery owners and managers, successfully persuading Treasury to exempt cemetery care trusts from the tax entirely. A copy of the final 1411 regulations is available on the ICCFA web site,


Article by ICCFA General Counsel Robert M. Fells, Esq. sourced with permission from the ICCFA Magazine for January 2014. 

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They're getting married!


Announcement from WCCFA member and Director of Cemeteries

for the Archdiocese of Seattle: 

Elizabeth Giesbers & Carl Peterson


On Saturday, February 1 our son Carl is getting married to Elizabeth Giesbers at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Burien. Carl and Beth met in high scho

ol (John Kennedy Memorial High School, Burien) and have

been together for several years. Carl worked on the grounds of Gethsemane Cemetery as a seasonal employee while in college. Elizabeth is currently employed at Gethsemane Cemetery as the Office Administrative Assistant. Carl currently works in support services for Children's Medical Center, Seattle. Elizabeth's passion is opera. She is currently a member of chorus of the Seattle Opera.



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Title40 Title 40


While EPA inspection of crematories is rare, the risk remains. A number of factors that are not under the crematory's control could trigger an inspection. A disgruntled employee or a competitor could make a report of non-compliance to the EPA. A national media report of malfeasance at another crematory could trigger a local media investigation of a crematory. If the operator has not covered himself with respect to compliance of EPA regulations, at the least, he could lose time and money responding to the claims. In addition, if it can't be proven that the crematory is properly disposing of metals, it could even be suspected or alleged that the crematory operator is stealing the dental scrap and selling it to a pawnshop with the resultant negative publicity. It has happened!


There is a Silver Lining and a Solution

Fortunately, the crematory operator can satisfy these requirements by using an EPA-compliant refiner of precious metals to safely process all such post-cremation waste metal. However, it's up to the crematory to ask a refiner or recycler if they can provide an EPA-compliant manifest for all the material they've processed on their behalf.  At present there's no directory of such providers.

The best companies will also offer such additional services as:

* Environmental consulting
* Site audits
* Specialized waste transportation
* Environmental transportation insurance
* Continuous updates & notification of changes in applicable laws  


It won't cost more to use an EPA-permitted refiner or waste disposal service. There are even a few refiners will give the owner/operator back a significant portion of the value of the recycled precious metal. The operator can take the money, but most participating crematories prefer to donate the money to a local charity. It's a good deed that can promote additional goodwill among their clients and their community.

Increased Cremation Means Increased Risk

According to CANA, the cremation rate in the United States has increased from 3.56% in 1960 to 40.62% in 2010. The association projects a cremation rate of 55.65% by 2025. Obviously that's good news for crematories. But as the number of cremations increases, so will the amount of post-cremation metal that must be disposed of in an environmentally-safe and ethical manner. Otherwise, cremationists risk damaging the environment ... and their livelihood. 


Sheldon Goldner is an environmental law specialist and CEO of Progressive Environmental Services. For more information visit


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landscapeBest Practices


Michael Sweeney, president of the Connecticut-based Landserv, said he sticks to a regular maintenance schedule, no matter the growing season. Even in the winter months, Sweeney still makes it a point to do weekly maintenance. "I find that in many cemeteries, they're only scheduled to weed whack around headstones every other week, or mow every 10 days," he said. This can be a problem because cemeteries can have visitors at any time. "A cemetery has to be looking presentable and open for business at any time," he said. "That's where I think some cemeteries fall short - when a family entrusts the memory and remains of their family or friend in your cemetery, and you're not doing everything you can to maintain that relationship."


Little things, big impact

Some of the most important aspects of a cemetery's maintenance and aesthetics are the easiest things to deal with, Sweeney said. Simple tasks like quickly removing unsightly or decaying floral and holiday arrangements, getting new flags out for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, pruning trees and shrubs, and doing the "basics" such as mowing, line trimming, and trash and plant litter removal, all go a long way in making your grounds look well maintained. "It's so important to look for the little things; they're what's overlooked so many times," Wantz said.


Having flowers and other plants is another "little thing" that goes a long way. "I believe that you can't have too many flowers and plants," Wantz said. Before adding new plants, consider soil content and exposure to the elements. "It's very important to make sure you have the right ingredients for a healthy plant," he said. And when adding new plants to your cemetery, be sure to choose local plant materials. "If you bring in plants from other parts of the country, they may not grow as well," Jamieson shared.


Sweeney pointed out that, if you want to plant trees, you probably shouldn't plant deciduous trees with large root systems that sprawl out over a large area. Instead, plant trees with growing characteristics where roots grow down instead of out. "Long-term considerations like that make the management of the cemetery easier as the years go on," he said.


However, it's also crucial to make sure you have the budget to maintain any new plants, whether they're annual flowers or trees that will continue to grow for the next hundred years. While flowerbeds bursting with color might look nice when they're first planted, they can become an eyesore if they aren't cared for. "It is better not to have a flower bed than to present an unkempt one to the community," Kraft said. If you are looking to add some low maintenance flowers to your grounds, Kraft recommends knockout roses, which "provide beautiful color all summer long."


And making sure you have the money to maintain plant life isn't just important for your cemetery's ambiance; it's also imperative to making sure your cemetery safe for your families. "Most cemeteries are old and have a lot of big, old trees. It gives them beauty a lot of times, but the most important thing to do is to have trees inspected on a regular basis, structurally, so they don't drop limbs or fall," Jamieson said, adding that they should be checked by a qualified arborist.


The right equipment

Landscape maintenance equipment is always changing, and new products are coming into the market all the time. "A landscape manager needs to keep up on the latest products and see what may make the most sense for a respective property," Ledbetter said. In addition to having well-maintained riding and hand mowers and line trimmers, other equipment is needed for optimum maintenance. Sweeney believes it's important to have zero-turn riding mowers and backpack leaf blowers - and for bigger areas, he recommends attaching leaf blowers to the back of a medium sized lawn tractor. "It allows for maximum efficiency, and efficiency means you can save more money and keep bolstering your perpetual care funds," he said.


Ledbetter suggests considering power tool systems that can perform many different tasks using a single platform with a number of different attachments. "These should be considered not only for the work they can do but also for the reduced space they may take up in the shop," he said.


Dump trailers pulled with tractors can be easier on turf, and by using them, you'll experience less broken granite, Kraft said. He also recommends using golf carts for general duty grounds work, backpack blowers and sprayers and, if your grounds are not irrigated, water tanks for watering graves and flowerbeds. And Wantz points out that, no matter how great your equipment is, it's no good unless you have good, conscientious people operating it.


Budget concerns

In many cemeteries where money is tight, the first item to get knocked off the list of priorities is the maintenance budget. This, Kraft said, is one of the biggest mistakes people can make. "This will only be a short-term fix for locations in financial need," he warned. In the long term, the community will notice, and sales will be negatively impacted. "Once in the vortex, it is hard to get out," he said. If your cemetery is facing maintenance budget cuts, Kraft suggests preparing to fight a good fight and searching for unrealized revenue streams to support budgetary needs.


One way to make your dollars stretch is to have a good management team in place that evaluates every dollar spent and focuses on price versus benefits. "Is the expenditure necessary? Is the price we are paying fair?" Kraft suggests asking. Ledbetter also advocates, researching and making wise equipment selections, and staying up on the latest landscape maintenance equipment, products and techniques to do more and better jobs with less. He also emphasizes the importance of networking with peer cemeterians and other landscape maintenance professionals in your area to share experiences, successes and failures. "Learning from others can be a bargain, and consider what existing free or low-cost best landscape management practices may be available for your respective area," he said.


Getting volunteers in your cemetery to tidy things up is not only a good way to save money but can boost traffic and community involvement in your cemetery. Sweeney said one of the cemeteries he works with reaches out to teenagers and high school students who need to do community service projects, and organizes community service days in the cemetery. "They'll come in, work on projects, and we'll provide coffee, donuts and lunch," he shared. "It bolsters the community spirit, the presence of the cemetery in the community, and it allows a relatively modest cost to get a big group of energetic people to help spruce up the cemetery."


Article by Lauren Moore sourced from American Cemetery Magazine for September 2013.



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Get your 2014 music license now! 


We have again joined forces with the International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association's Music Coalition. We are pleased to inform you that your membership in the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association now entitles your company to music licensing with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for only $258 for the 2014 calendar year. If you have not already purchased or renewed your Music License for 2012, simply complete the 2014 Music License Application and return it to ICCFA with payment, and your music license requirement for 2014 will be covered. Please note that the $258 price will be in effect until January 25, 2014. After January 25, the price increases to $270 per location.  


Click here for application form.


Music licensing is the law, and failure to obtain a license where one is required can be costly: Copyright law provides for damages similar to fines of up to $30,000 for each song that is infringed. If your cemetery, regardless of size, hosts performances of copyrighted music - whether the music is performed live or played from recordings - music copyright owners say you are legally required to pay an annual licensing fee.


Click here for application form.


As a partner in the Music License Coalition, WCCFA now provides our member companies the opportunity to be in full compliance with the law and ensure you are covered for any music a client family might request. Licensing directly with the agencies this year would cost nearly $600 per location, so the Coalition price, which requires no additional membership fee, is still the lowest available in the funeral industry.


Click here for application form.


The Music License Coalition is a partnership of numerous associations representing the cemetery, cremation and funeral service industry and administered by the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. Its goal is simply to continue to attract more licensees, thereby increasing compliance within the profession and qualifying for even bigger volume discounts in the future - so your company can save even more money!


Click here for application form.


Please note that if you receive another 2014 Music License Coalition Renewal notice for $258 licensing from another Coalition organization, you only need to pay once and you can simply remit payment with whichever invoice you choose. Some cemeteries may be on more than one Music License Coalition partner membership list. As long as you pay the low $258 fee for each location where music is played, you can rest assured your company will be covered with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for 201 4.


Click here for application form.


If you have any questions, please call us at 360.668.2120. We look forward to your participation and support of the WCCFA/Music License Coalition program.


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Washington state Department of Health releases 2012 mortality statistics 


The 2012 mortality data for Washington State has been finalized.  Attached you will find three reports:  1) counts by funeral home, 2) counts by autopsy and disposition by county of residence, and 3) counts by autopsy and disposition by county of occurrence.


Please feel free to contact me if your e-mail address has changed or if you would like to have anyone else from your facility or department receive these reports.  Also let me know if there is anything else I can assist you with.



Amy J. Poel


Center for Health Statistics

PO Box 47814

Olympia, WA 98504

Phone:  (360) 236-4326

Fax:  (360) 753-4135

Physical Location:  101 Israel Road SE (Town Center 1) Tumwater, WA


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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 




Do you have a job position to fill?

Cemetery or funeral home equipment to sell?

Are you looking for a job?

Classified ads for WCCFA members are FREE.

Send your information to the WCCFA at 

SCI Seattle Market job postings


  • LOCATION MANAGER: Bauer Group Funeral Homes - Snohomish and Monroe, WA (link here for job description) 
  • LICENSED FUNERAL DIRECTOR or LICENSED INTERN: West Seattle Group (link here for job description)

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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In This Issue
College of Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Studies
Funeral/Cemetery Board 2/4/14
Well-Maintained Grounds are Key
Century Plastics: New Member!
ICCFA Convention 2014
Greening the Industry: Funeral, Fiber & Fabric
Seattle Stars in the Rose Parade: Floragraph Honorees
Liaison List Updated
Valentine's Day: Safe Place for the Bereaved
Cemetery and Funeral Trusts Granted Favorable Treatment
Get your 2014 music license now!
Bulletin Board
SCI Market Job Postings