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News for Death Care Professionals
Vol. III
 Issue X

Wreaths help honor our fallen veterans:

Evergreen Memorial Gardens participates in

"Wreaths Across America"


Christmas is a difficult time for anyone grieving for a lost loved one. It is especially painful for America's military families whose son, daughter, spouse or parent was killed in action this year.

Wreaths Across America at

Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Vancouver

Normally, the fallen are remembered on Memorial Day in late May, but thanks to a Maine family and thousands of donors and volunteers, nearly half a million wreaths are laid on the tombstones of our fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen during the Christmas holidays.


The panoramic view of Arlington National Cemetery's rolling hills, with the white grave markers perfectly aligned and wreaths perfectly placed, is breathtaking.


Here is how it started.


When Morrill Worcester was a 12-year-old paperboy for the Bangor Daily News, he won a trip to Washington D.C. His visit to the Arlington National Cemetery made an indelible impression that stayed with him throughout his life.

Will Fisher, son of Lindsay (Carlson) Fisher, helps lay wreaths


Years later, Worcester realized that he could use his family business to honor the hundreds of thousands of veterans laid to rest in Arlington.


Morrill and his wife Karen owned the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine. founded in 1971, Worcester is a family-owned company that is now run by second-generation family members. The company, which grows balsam fir in its forests, has become one of the largest wholesalers of holiday balsam products, providing fresh Maine wreaths, trees and centerpieces.


Wreaths Across America sprang from a gesture in 1992 when Morrill and Karen Worcester shipped their surplus wreaths to Washington, D.C., where, with the help of Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, they were placed on headstones in an older section of the Arlington National Cemetery.


After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, interest in the project grew. In fact, the Pentagon, which was struck by a jetliner on that day, is within eyesight of Arlington. In 2005, when Wreaths Across America appeared on the Internet with a panoramic photo of thousands of snow-covered wreaths on Arlington headstones, interest and donations skyrocketed.


Wreaths Across America is a privately funded charity that accepts no government money. As part of the project, truckers volunteer to haul the wreaths, and veterans and other volunteers place them on the tombstones at Arlington and more than 800 national, state and local cemeteries and 24 veterans' cemeteries overseas. Each one is carefully placed and secured to the grave marker, often with family members assisting. 

Jack Fisher, Will's big brother,

also helps


In Washington, for example, Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Vancouver collects funds for the program and volunteers placed the wreaths on veterans' graves on Saturday. Brad Carlson, whose family owns and operates Evergreen, says it is a very solemn and emotional event. "We see moms, dads, spouses and children really suffering from their loved one's loss and this helps them know that others care and remember. It is very moving and something you don't forget."


More than half of the charity's wreaths are placed at Arlington National Cemetery, forming a rolling sea of crisp, dark green fir branches with red bows.


This year, the wreaths help highlight the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery. It was dedicated in 1864 on the 624-acre estate of General Robert E. Lee, who resigned his U.S. Army commission to lead the Confederate Army in the Civil War. Today, more than 400,000 veterans are buried there.


Morrill Worcester said his first trip to Arlington National Cemetery helped him remember those who gave everything to keep America free. Today, Wreaths Across America program helps us remember, as well. The wreaths provide some comfort to family and friends of those who lost their lives because they know their loved ones have not been forgotten.


Article sourced from the Columbian newspaper, 12/16/2014 by Don Brunell.


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2015 is here and it's time

to renew your WCCFA membership!


Membership renewal forms have been mailed, but if you want to get the jump on it you can select your form below and take care of it right away!



You will also find information about the ICCFA/WCCFA 2015 Music License Coalition offer:


Stop, thief! Steps to help you prevent,

spot & react to theft

in the deathcare profession  


Cemeteries, crematories and funeral homes all can become victims of theft, the financial damage of which is often compounded by bad publicity. As always, it's better to be prepared and proactive than to just hope it doesn't happen to you.

"Did you happen to see the person who stole your money, ma'am?" "No," the victim says. "In fact, I don't even know when they stole my money." The officer, quite matter of factly says, "This is pretty common, and most likely we are not going to be able to find out anything. But we'll let you know if something turns up."

The author,Poul LeMasters, Esq.

If you have ever been robbed or lost anything, this dialogue may seem quite normal. But what if we're talking about not a stolen wallet or car but the theft of a bronze vase, or of preneed funeral funds or even an urn, perhaps containing the remains of a loved one? Now the story really hits home to cemetery, cremation and funeral professionals as well as the victims.

And today, you not only have to deal with the aftermath of the crime itself but also with the publicity that's likely to ensue, especially now that the internet makes it easy for anything out-of-the-ordinary (because, let's face it, the theft of bronze doors from a mausoleum is a lot more unusual than purse-snatching) to spread all over the country - and the world.

Sadly, these stories are happening too often in the deathcare profession. What's worse is that whether your organization is directly affected, these types of stories and problems affect all providers.

While theft can take many forms, this article attempts to identify three common areas of theft in three deathcare sectors: cemeteries, funeral homes and crematories. Keep in mind that these are just examples, and none of these scenarios are unique to just one sector. For example, preneed theft can happen anywhere that sells preneed, not just at funeral homes.

This article is meant as a general overview to identify three areas of theft and how a business can take steps to identify the problem, react to the issue, and then prevent the problem from happening again - or at least reduce the chance of it recurring.

Cemeteries: Bronze thefts

There have been stories circulating for years now about people stealing bronze vases, bronze doors, copper fixtures and anything else they can take from cemeteries to resell. Sad to say, this theft is a growing concern for cemeteries. What's even sadder is that the negative publicity is sometimes directed at the cemeteries, despite the cemeteries as well as the families involved being victims.

Identifying this issue is not difficult, but many times it comes too late. A typical case involves numerous thefts, such as of bronze vases, over a period of time. It's not just one family affected, it's 10, 20, or 100.

Do routine inventory checks. To spot this problem immediately, your cemetery must have routine inventory checks in place. Have your grounds crew do consistent random checks on property throughout the cemetery.


Maintain a complete inventory. Make sure your cemetery is among those that keep an inventory of various products within your boundaries. It is surprising how many cemeteries do not have an actual count of what is in their parks - including markers and vases actually owned by families. Take the time to document everything and periodically confirm and update this inventory log.

Sold for scrap?


Do a thorough investigation. If a theft occurs, reacting properly is crucial. First, any business that is a victim of theft should investigate. You do not want to react to one theft that happened to be reported by a family when in fact there have been hundreds. Your business needs to know the extent of the problem to decide how far you need to go with a resolution.

If a single theft is noted, the resolution might be as simple as talking with the owner and, depending on the value of what was stolen, perhaps having their homeowner's policy cover the replacement. Of course, anytime you are going down this road,  it is important to make sure your rules and regulations clearly define who is responsible for what damage.

If it is a larger problem - perhaps numerous thefts or the theft of something large such as bronze doors - your reaction needs to be proportional. Again, you need to investigate internally to see the extent of the problem, and I'm sad to say, to find out if any of your employees were involved.

Contact the police. The police need to be brought in. If there are going to be any insurance claims, either from you or the families involved, typically an incident report will be needed for the claim.

Be ready for the media. Lastly, be aware that the press may become involved. It is possible the families you serve and/or the press could try to blame the cemetery for the problem.

Your reaction needs to be quick and concise so that you can control the direction of the story. After all, the cemetery is a victim as well, and your business needs to be on the offensive, not having to react defensively, and on the side of fixing the problem, not causing it.

Focus on prevention. As Benjamin Franklin said so perfectly, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It still applies today. The key is preventing theft, not trying to solve the problem after it occurs. Prevention comes in many forms and includes security, notices and awareness.

Security on cemetery grounds is becoming more and more common, and the cost can be minimal, especially compared with the potential loss. Cemetery security can range from cameras to security personnel. While personnel may seem expensive, many local security agencies can arrange drive-throughs of the grounds on a nightly basis for a minimal fee. Sometimes, cemeteries can arrange with local enforcement to do regular drive-bys of the grounds.

Some of the simplest measures help a lot, such as locking the gates and doors of your facility after hours. There are countless stories about cemeteries having been robbed when they were closed but the doors and gates had been left wide open. Nothing like making it easy for the thief!

Prevention, even at its best, cannot guarantee that a theft will not occur. But some prevention needs to be in place to handle problems that might occur. This includes proper rules and regulations so that the families are aware of their responsibilities for monuments and other items, and proper insurance to cover cases in which your cemetery is responsible.

Many times families who report a theft say they had no idea they were responsible for insurance - they thought it was the cemetery's responsibility, since the items are in the cemetery. When the theft involves an older memorial, any living descendants (assuming they can be located) may be grandchildren who do not have coverage for such thefts. Decisions about what to do in such cases may need to be made on a case-by-case basis, but you should be aware of the possibility.

Cemeteries typically don't have coverage on markers/monuments because they are not the cemetery's property. However, a business can have theft insurance to cover claims where it might have responsibility. An example of this would be theft by an employee. By having a crime policy and/or fidelity bond, your business may be able to get coverage for such a loss.

While these riders are common, they typically are underfunded. It is common to see a $5,000 crime policy that, in the grand scheme of things, provides little coverage. For little difference in premiums, a business can have much more coverage.

Read about Funeral Home and Crematory issues in the rest of Poul's article here.

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For many years I have been on a one-woman crusade to change our designation from "industry" to "profession" (even standing up at national conventions and offering my unsolicited opinion) and it seems some headway may be being made, but there is still a long way to go. Note in this month's articles some writers refer to us as an "industry" while other choose "profession."


The following definitions are from the online Oxford Dictionary.


Industry: Economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods in factories.


Profession: A paid occupation especially one that involves prolonged training or qualification: A quality or accomplishment that makes someone suitable for a particular job or activity.


Which do you prefer? Death-care industry or Death-care profession?


How to keep your calm

when other people don't

Van Beck
The author, Todd Van Beck, CFuE


"Civility costs nothing and buys everything." - Lady Mary Wortley Montague

I have been so blessed in my career. I have been privileged to have hobnobbed with some excellent funeral professionals over the years.

Without exception one of the finest I have crossed paths with was a wonderful professional from France. He is the owner of one of the largest funeral companies in the world. This humble man once relayed the following story: One day he made a surprise visit to one of his many locations. He overheard a client complaining to the funeral home location manager about the quality of service, and her annoyance with some little courtesies of service that she felt had been overlooked. The owner overheard the entire conversation.

The manager of the funeral home was totally unaware that the owner had heard this, and was surprised to learn that he was even in the building. The manager acted as normal as ever, behaving as if nothing had happened.

Finally, the owner of this outstanding funeral operation began questioning the location manager about the annoyed client. The location manager seemed stunned that the owner had any knowledge of this incident, and started stammering, muttering something about the annoyed woman being ill-mannered, a crank, someone absolutely no one in the funeral home could please. She was a kook!

The owner of this marvelous organization told me he just hit the roof and exclaimed, "Of course she is! But it is our business to please cranks. Anybody can please a client who doesn't complain!"

  In my career, I long ago discovered that every day we come into contact with people of all types, and many of them are truly hard to please. Some are cranky and ill-mannered, and they seem to harshly judge what we say and do. These days, it appears this group is actually growing instead of getting smaller; I guess it is just a sign of the times.

However, no matter how cranky, grumpy or fussy anyone is, a professional funeral or cemetery person, a funeral home or a cemetery, does not develop a following through any feats of "rabbit-out-of-the-hat" magic.

I still firmly believe that clients are won through the time-honored barometer of excellent service, personal attentiveness, sympathetic courtesies and just simple common-sense kindness. I have found no computer hardware, software or website that can accomplish this; it is a distinctly human quality.

How attractive are we to our public? How attractive are we in our service to others? In fact, as tough as these questions are, I believe the toughest question that anybody is our profession can be asked is this: "Tell me why I should call your funeral home or cemetery, or both?"

That's honestly a tough one, because so many are quick to the trigger and answer "Because we are the best!" In our highly questioning, cynical society, many people will fire right back with "Prove it!"

As old-fashioned as this all sounds, it is worth pondering that observing the rules of good conduct - being courteous, thoughtful and patient - is as essential in a profession as it is socially. You really cannot separate the three. Nearly every successful funeral home and cemetery can trace its success to the thoughtful service of the men and women who work there.

Book smarts vs. people smarts

Some years back - well, many years back - I was the president of a mortuary college. I had a student who excelled in her work - 4.0. She was academically brilliant. She literally never missed an examination question. She knew the textbooks from cover to cover, and she was the first person to tell you directly how intelligent she was and how utterly stupid the rest of the human race was.

This student aced every paper she ever wrote, and in her written words she was kind, gentle and highly sensitive to the human condition of grief, but when she attempted to convey these same thoughts verbally, she became an arrogant, self-righteous, self-centered and totally self-absorbed person. I ended up disliking her tremendously, even though she aced the National Board Examination.

She graduated with every cum laude you could think up. She graduated class valedictorian, and in her valedictory address, she lost no opportunity to tell everyone present just how smart, wonderful, beautiful and accomplished she was.

She was devoid of human courtesies and manners, and over the next calendar year she experienced one failed employment opportunity after another.

One fateful afternoon, I looked up from my desk and there she stood in the doorway to my office. I invited her in, and as she sat down she started to weep.

I asked her what the trouble was, and in a New York second she began blasting everyone from every funeral home that had tried to employ her, to give her a chance to complete her internship and work with her. It was all their fault, all their doing, and she concluded that these "buffoons" she worked for just were too stupid to see how gifted and intelligent she was.

I have made many mistakes in my life, and what happened next was one of them. I decided to be straight with her, to explain how her arrogance was translating into an ill-mannered, haughty, conceited persona, and that she needed to confront this character disorder or else this situation would simply repeat itself time and again.

When I finally stopped and took a breath, she launched on a diatribe against me. Truth is, my faults as she enumerated them were mostly legitimate, but she really went for the jugular, and finally marched out of my office in a rage. I have never seen or heard about her since.

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More on the saga of
Beacon Hill's Comet Lodge Cemetery

(More articles from Paul Elvig's archive)


Seattle Times - September 25, 1985 

New Life For an Old Cemetery

 by Frederick Case, Times staff reporter


On a steep bluff overlooking Boeing Field is a historic pioneer cemetery that looks more like virgin forest. Only a few moss-covered fallen tombstones are visible amid matted underbrush and huge ivy-clad maples.


Here, in the Comet Lodge No. 139 Oddfellows Cemetery, have been buried such notables as Emma Rigby, one of the Seattle area's first female doctors, and Jacob and Samuel Maple, pioneers who arrived in Seattle a few months before even the Dennys.


The pioneers are gone - and forgotten. So are the once well-groomed plots of their graveyard, on Beacon Hill at 23rd Avenue South and South Graham Street.


Today, nobody knows who owns the cemetery, nobody knows the exact boundaries and nobody is certain where the bodies are situated because the detailed map has been mislaid and most gravestones have disappeared.


premier 2013-2014 for web The unanswered questions have complicated a plan to reincarnate the cemetery as about 2 acres of parklike urban horticultural oasis producing food for the South End's poorer residents.


Project organizer Don Kipper, a member of the Beacon Hill Community Association, points out that the Comet Lodge Cemetery is one of the very few Beacon Hill spots potentially available as public parks. "What we've been considering is to clean up the cemetery and make it into a neighborhood arboretum," says the home-health aide. "Since this is a low-income neighborhood, we'd grow fruit trees and bushes instead of ornamentals. Then the people doing the maintenance work will be able to collect the produce and either sell it locally or distribute it through the Seattle co-op network."


Kipper cites the precedent of the Good Shepherd Agricultural Center in Wallingford, where the Seattle Tilth Association grows vegetables organically and donates them to the Fremont Food Bank.


Paul Elvig of Bellingham, executive secretary of the Washington State Cemetery Board, says state law forbids desecration of a graveyard by removal of tombstones, but there is no prohibition against horticulture in a cemetery.


Ownership of the 90-year-old Comet cemetery is buried in mystery. A possible contributing factor is its confusing variety of colloquial names: Georgetown Cemetery, Graham Street Cemetery, Oddfellows Georgetown Cemetery, Woodmen of the World Cemetery and South Beacon Hill Cemetery.


However, according the Carolyn Farnum, president of the Seattle Genealogical Society and an expert on King County graveyards, the land was deeded in 1895 to Comet Lodge by Diana Borst Collins Woodridge Sour.  Apparently, Sour was an Oddfellow widow.


Several years later the Comet Lodge sold the cemetery for $1 to a Georgetown undertaker, H.F. Noice. Both the lodge and Noice sold burial lots until 1912. That year, Noice sold the cemetery for $10 to a lodge member, Dr. H.R. Corson. Corson sold part of the unused land for building sites, kept the cemetery part - but apparently never left instructions on what should happen to the cemetery after his death.


The abandoned graveyard is a good example of what can happen to an unendowed cemetery. Because cemeteries are tax-exempt, they cannot be attached by the city. So they can deteriorate indefinitely, with nobody taking responsibility. No private funds exist for care of the Comet Lodge Cemetery.


The city and country have steered clear of becoming involved in the complexities of administering land, which still is legally dedicated to cemetery use.



Don Kipper


Ray Morris, 70, the Vice Grand of the Oddfellows Temple at 915 E. Pine St., says that about 40 years ago the state's Grand Lodge decided to push for some action on the cemetery, but that apparently nothing resulted. The Oddfellows are one of the largest fraternal and benevolent orders in the United States, claiming about 1.2 million members. However, the Comet Lodge was discontinued years ago.




Relatives have moved some bodies to other better-maintained cemeteries. Real-estate developers have been thwarted by the monumental task of finding surviving relatives and getting their permission to remove other bodies.


Ed Reitan, who was the Oddfellows' state cemetery-committee chairman before he died last year, believed that at least 100 bodies remain in the Comet cemetery.


In one interview, Reitan had expressed the same view as Kipper - that the cemetery should be cleaned up and turned into a community park. "It could be handled with dignity," Reitan said. "The bodies would not be disturbed and the community would have use of the land."


Although the deadlock over the cemetery's legal future could continue until Doomsday, the first step in recycling the land has been taken. Kipper says the board of the South East Seattle Community Organization has approved the idea of turning the cemetery into a community horticultural park.


"Together we are drawing up a formal plan, and we are trying to assemble the people and tools to do the job," he says. "It would be a wonderful neighborhood activity.


He is asking work-party volunteers to contact him at 723-3055.


Would-be restorer of cemetery on Beacon Hill

told to stay out

By Dee Norton, Times staff reporter 5/4/1989


A man who wants to restore a pioneer cemetery on Beacon Hill has been ordered once again to stay off the property.


Don Kipper, who has announced intentions of restoring the old Comet Lodge Cemetery, was ordered yesterday to keep off the land by Paul Elvig, executive secretary of the state Cemetery Board.


"I'm ordering you to stay out of this cemetery," Elvig told Kipper yesterday at the cemetery. "I will follow this up with a letter to you. Do you understand me?"


Milne 2013 Kipper, seated on a gravestone, acknowledged Elvig's order. "You can do what you want," he said. "I am dismayed by the whole thing."


Elvig's order and a stop-work order issued by King County were triggered by Kipper's plan last week to have fill dirt dumped in the middle of the cemetery.


The overgrown cemetery at 23rd Avenue South and South Graham Street was dedicated in 1895 and is believed to contain about 200 graves. Among them are buried, some of Seattle's earliest settlers.


In late 1987, Kipper arranged to have a sewer construction company working nearby to bulldoze the graveyard to bare earth. Gravestones, and markers were moved to the south end of the cemetery.


That action brought the first cease-and-desist order by Elvig against Kipper and the Elysian Fields Cemetery Association he had formed. At the time, Elvig said, "I have never seen anything like it. It was devastation."


The first order was temporary. Yesterday, Elvig said he may have to ask King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng to seek a permanent restraining order against Kipper.


I have been in 1,000 cemeteries in this state, and this gives me the most sinking feeling," Elvig told Kipper.


Kipper refused to discuss his intentions. In the past few months he has sought financial and volunteer help from area labor unions in his stated effort to restore the cemetery.


Asked where he got the fill dirt, Kipper told Elvig he saw an ad in a newspaper. Asked what he was going to do with it. Kipper told Elvig. "I was going to fill in that gully."


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Wilbert Precast 1/4 page

Greening the Funeral Industry:

Green Funerals for the Minimalists 


Could minimalism be the next influence in greener funerals?


At first glance, you might think you've heard about minimalism before. The phrase "Less is More" was the motto of German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 to 1969). Regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture, Meis along with post WWI contemporaries including Frank Lloyd

Frank Lloyd Wright "Prairie Style"

Wright, helped define a trend in design and architecture wherein their subjects were reduced to their necessary elements. Post WWII America experienced a wave of minimalism, especially in the music and art of the 1960s and 1970s, reinforcing the appeal of pared down design elements. London and New York witnessed another revival of minimalist architecture in the late 1980s where architects and fashion designers collaborated on boutiques to achieve simplicity using white elements, cold lighting, and large spaces with minimum objects and furniture.


There's another revival of minimalism in this new millennium. As described by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus and their two million followers (, Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. It is a matter of living a more meaningful life with less stuff. While each one of us embraces minimalism differently, our paths lead to the same place: a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life.

Before we apply minimalist thinking to greener funerals, let us explore more deeply some examples of minimalism and how it might affect our choices. My journey into minimalism began last summer. After reading a few articles on Joshua and Ryan's blog, I quickly realized that "the clutter" in my life was a liability. Not only did these things fail to bring joy into my life, many of these things were actually the cause of anxiety in my life. The clutter in my life included clothing that hadn't fit in years, unfinished projects, spare parts, leftover building materials, books, papers, furniture, and a plethora of other things I had acquired, inherited, or purchased. As a family, we began paring down. More than ten truckloads left our home destined for garage sales, friends & family, and Goodwill where these things went to good use. Even my 1978 BMW motorcycle, in boxes of parts, near and dear to me more than fifteen years ago and yet untouched for as many years went to a new home freeing up both storage space and my conscience. It felt great.

Minimalism isn't a matter of living more cheaply or making painful sacrifices. In fact, let us illustrate with a pair of shoes. A minimalist might choose to keep just one pair of shoes... instead of 14 pairs like so many of us probably have right now. One very nice pair of lace-up wingtips made by Allen Edmonds might cost more than $300. However, these fine shoes will work for almost any occasion casual or formal, will last several years (even if worn daily so long as they are cared for), and be truly comfortable to wear. For the person who keeps 14 different pairs of shoes, wearing just one very nice carefully selected pair of shoes might bring more joy into his/her life. We might actually spend less money on shoes overall if we choose a pair of shoes that we will enjoy more thoroughly and for longer. If we're only buying one pair of shoes, we can afford to pay a premium price for a pair that meets all of our needs.

Minimalist thinking can be applied to all of the choices in our lives. Are we making choices that add to the joy in our lives? Or are we making choices that add to the clutter and anxiety in our lives? To live a more meaningful life, it helps to clear the clutter from our life's path. That path is different for each and every one of us. While possessions are the easiest place to start clearing away the clutter, the same thinking can improve the quality of our lives when applied to our health, relationships, the company we keep, in our careers, and yes, even funerals.

Polyguard 7-12 As funeral service professionals let's ask ourselves, are we minimalists? Are we helping our families make meaningful choices in funeral service? Do the choices we present our families and the guidance we give them truly bring more meaning into their lives? Do we propose a feature, aspect, or element of funeral service because that's just what we do?...or because this element will bring meaning to the family? While every family embraces the end-of-life sacrament differently, as professionals in funeral service we can lead our families to the same place: a meaningful funeral service.

Could a minimalist funeral be a greener funeral? That depends on the family, but I'll bet more often than not that a carefully planned and meaningful funeral is greener than the "standard package" funeral. Like the wingtip shoes, I'll also bet that many families are willing to spend more on carefully selected elements that are truly meaningful. Many funeral directors tell me about a trend wherein families are choosing to spend less money on a casket and monument, but significantly more money on food and refreshments for a celebration. Perhaps these families are asking themselves if their choices are bringing more meaning into the funeral service. If we help our families ask exactly that, we could not only bring more meaning into funeral service, but we might also notice that many of these "meaningful choices" are also greener.


Jonas A. 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

Article sourced from Funeral Home and Cemetery News for March 2014 with permission.  


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Protecting your families and business:

Many businesses fail to establish safeguards

mitigating cremation risks


Cremation is part of the death care profession, but many professionals do not examine the degree of risk involved compared to burials. While in most business environments cost of services increases with the degree of risk, this does not hold true with aspects of cremation in most of the country.

The author Jim Starks

For example, the fee for the actual cremation process rarely equals the cost of opening and closing a grave in a local cemetery. But the price of the cremator and necessary equipment costs more than the equipment used to open a grave.

To determine the level of risk taken, one must first understand the risks. And once the risks are examined, one has the ability to decrease them by changing procedures to protect the firm, staff and consumer served.

Cremation's biggest risk is that it is an irreversible process. Once the cremator starts with the human remains in the chamber, there is no way to go back. And if the cremated human remains are lost, in whole or part, there is no place to purchase more.

Click here for the author's ten point identification verification form, which is recommended by the ICCFA and available on the ICCFA web site.

Cremation Risks Start at Removal to the Funeral Home

Every firm needs procedures to ensure that identification/tracking is taking place from the place of death until the cremated human remains are returned to the authorizing agent or final disposition occurs. Some of these procedures may seem awkward to the funeral caregiver. But the director must remember that the authorizing agent has requested cremation; times have changed, and we must protect ourselves and the consumer served.

From the time of removal after the first call, steps must be taken to make sure the deceased is who it should be. What form of identification was used to identify the deceased: name on the door, paper on the door to the hospital refrigeration unit or an identification band? Every firm should require that their own identification is correct before the human remains are transported back to the funeral home.

Even though an identification band should correctly identify the human remains, every provider should also have positive identification by the authorizing agent before cremation. It is best that this identification is done with the selected container for two reasons: It is one less move, which increases the chance of placing the wrong deceased in the container; and it demonstrates to the authorizing agent that the container they selected is being used. It is always imperative to verify the name on the identification band when placing the deceased in the container before the identification takes place.

The authorization to cremate is a very important document that is often overlooked. The authorization used must contain all disclosures that the death care profession recommends.

It's important to make sure the following steps are completed on the authorization:

  • By not having the authorizing agent read the authorization, the agent can come back to your firm saying that they did not know that something was going to be done. Are you having them read it, or are you just highlighting or placing and "X" next to areas to sign or initial?
  • Require all authorizing lineage to sign the authorization. Some states do not require all to sign. Even firms in those states should establish the most stringent requirements for their firm and require all signatures.
  • The only thing that should come back from the crematory is cremated human remains, and firms should have a policy that only clothing the deceased is wearing and combustible items should be placed in the container going to the crematory. Some firms allow non-combustible or valuable items in the container with the deceased to go to the crematory. If the authorizing agent has an item they would like with the cremated human remains, it should be placed in the urn in the presence of the authorizing agent after cremation.
  • To ensure that the cremated human remains are only released to intended persons, it should be documented with the authorizing agent during the arrangements exactly who may accept the cremated human remains when they are returned from the crematory.

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Bringing professional standards to "The Family Business"


Many of us were grandfathered into the death care industry. Growing up, we watched our funeral director fathers and mothers give compassionate counsel to grieving families. We couldn't imagine a different profession for ourselves other than "the family business."


Passing the funeral business from one generation to the next meant mortuary employees receive on the job training. This is also the case for crematory operators who work behind the scenes.


But standards have changed. The growing demand for cremation means the value of certified cremation professionals has never been greater. The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) believes the industry has the public responsibility to ensure operators are prepared for the ethical and legal demands of their role.


CANA developed the Crematory Operators certification Program (TM) (COCP (TM)) more than 30 years ago to bring better risk management to an industry where regulation is constantly increasing. CAMA recognized that cremation is more than simply operating a machine; it requires a wide range of professional skills and knowledge of best policies, practices and procedures for dealing with the families of the deceased.


Beyond providing a professional standard, "Certification elevates the role of crematory operator to its proper place," says Sheri Stahl, CANA board president-elect and fellow second-generation funeral director. Like her father's, Sheri's operators are a vital part of the team that provides solace and service to families when they  need it most.


CANA has certified more than 5000 death care professionals, and registration rates continue to rise as more state boards require crematory operator certification. In response to cremation's rising popularity, CANA recently revamped its COCP (TM) curriculum. Association leaders partnered with crematory manufacturers, practicing industry experts, and subject matter specialists to design a one-day certification course that is no longer just for operators. The program provides professionals of all backgrounds - owners, managers, funeral directors, and even support staff - and levels of experience a thorough knowledge of the practice, risks and proactive measures to take for a prosperous cremation practice.


Whether the death care industry is your "family business" or you found a different path here, formal certification is an integral part of training your staff, keeping up to date on industry trends and protecting your business from the unexpected.


Robert M. Boetticher, Jr., CANA President

Carriage Services, Inc.

Boise, Ida.

TheftStop, Thief! - continued


Funeral homes: Preneed thefts

Preneed is not the sole product or problem of funeral homes, but it has been as issue. In fact, there are many states that are in the process of or having discussion about making changes in regulation to better protect and react to the theft of preneed funds.

The stories that continue to be reported by the media are disturbing, and a black eye on the deathcare profession. One of the worst parts about preneed theft is that it is a direct harm to the consumer from our profession. There is no one else to blame, so the results are harsh.

Identification of preneed theft is typically done when family members arrive to make arrangements on an at-need basis and they say, "We are so glad that this was all taken care of."

The funeral home then looks for a file and discovers either that there is no file at all or the file has only information - no funding. The typical response from the funeral home is, "Well, are you sure it was with our facility? Perhaps you can find the paperwork and bring it in."

The family brings in the paperwork, and then the funeral home knows: This preneed was funded, but we took the money. It's important to say "we," because it doesn't matter which individual stole it. The funeral home is on the contract, so it will be responsible.

What then happens is never good. While a funeral home may take every step to make this family whole and perhaps avoid the press, the state board, and the state attorney general's office, this is just the beginning. Rarely does one unfunded preneed - one theft - occur as an isolated incident. The discovery of one is typically the beginning of uncovering a much bigger problem.

Investigation is critical upon making the initial discovery. Unfunded preneeds are easy to hide because typically the funeral homes don't know what they don't know. In other words, the contracts that were never funded typically do not ever appear that way in the files, so going back and checking individual files will lead to little information. Confronting the individual who sold that first unfunded contract is critical, but you need to make three phone calls first.

First, call your attorney. (It doesn't need to be me.) You want to document and proceed properly on this issue, so having your attorney involved is crucial. Some states have laws specific to employee theft and what you can and cannot do, so making sure you go down the right path is important. Your attorney can also advise you in your initial investigation and help determine who should be involved, such as an accountant, for example.

Second, call your insurance agent. Your insurance may provide reimbursement and coverage for theft. You want to get your insurers involved early because if they are not involved, and not put on notice in a timely fashion, you may put your coverage in this case at risk.

Third, call the authorities. The authorities include the police and your state's regulatory agency. Keep in mind this call needs to be discussed and should come from your attorney.

There are some pros and cons of getting outside authorities involved, but overall the pros typically outweigh the cons. The pros include:

  • leverage to catch and punish the thief (keep in mind that the police typically do not help return money, but the fear of prosecution can motivate);
  • positioning for press (while your business may take a hit, it's better to be open and discuss the problem and present it as one bad employee/agent that has been dealt with than hide it and risk being seen as part of a cover-up); and
  • assistance with resolving the issue (this is especially true with state regulators, and if you go to them they are more likely to help resolve the issue than if they discover it on their own).

The main con of reporting is public notice. Once you call the police or the state board, the case typically becomes public record and you run the risk of media attention. As in the case of cemetery bronze thefts, keep in mind that these thefts are against you and your business as well as against the consumer.

Media attention on this is not usually positive, but it's usually something you can't avoid. Every case is different, but you should understand that not reporting these thefts can have consequences that may be more harmful than anything the press could ever do.

Focus on prevention. Prevention of preneed theft is the ultimate key. Most thefts, especially employee thefts of any kind, are due to ease of access. If your business removes the easy paths to it, it is quite possible to almost eliminate employee theft.

One of the easiest steps to take is to separate job duties so that no one person has the ability to collect, record and deposit money. For preneed sales, it means having someone else finalize insurance/trust

example of a pre-printed control numbered contract

applications with the money so that an employee/agent can collect money but not deposit it.

Another tool is numbered contracts. Imagine your exposure if your checks were not numbered - anyone could write a check and there would be no way of knowing it was out there. Unnumbered preneed contracts are blank checks.

Your business should number all of its contracts so that each employee/agent is accountable. Instead of being given 25 blank contracts, an employee would sign out contracts 201-225.

You also need to keep a log so that each contract is accounted for. If a contract is made in error, it must be voided and turned back in. By eliminating free access to contracts, you remove the possibility of blank contracts being used.

I also suggest printing on all contracts that "Checks must be made payable to (name your funeral home and/or the preneed company) and you must be given a receipt of this transaction." With this notice, consumers know what they should do to receive confirmation of the process.

Crematories: Urn thefts

It may seem crazy, unreal, or just impossible to imagine, but it happens more than you think. People steal urns. The urns may contain cremated remains or may be empty, but in both cases, people are stealing them.

There was a recent case in Cincinnati where a crematory with a mausoleum had thousands of urns housed. Their stolen urns (with the cremated remains left behind) included some more than 100 years old; the urns were sold for scrap. Sadly, because so many of the urns were so old, no owners could be contacted because there is no history of remaining family.

Keep in mind there are even cases where families have stolen their own urns and then cried wolf - or, rather, damages!

Identifying this problem can be difficult if the urns stolen are in niches, because niches are typically not difficult to open. The problem might be easier to spot in the case of glass-fronted niches, but then again, there are usually unused/unsold niches mixed in with ones containing urns.

Some of the worst cases are those that involve a disinterment where the urn is found to be missing when the niche is opened. While this can be an issue of a wrongful interment, it can also be an issue of theft, but without good documentation, the likelihood of it being proven as a theft is slim to none.

While any theft is horrible, the theft of cremated remains [is] especially devastating. While most thefts involve money or personal property, this is the theft of a loved one. The issue of emotions and emotional damages has now entered the equation.

This has a direct effect on how a business reacts. Reaction needs to be quick and decisive. While an investigation is still critical, the initial interaction and communication with the family is crucial. A resolution needs to be in the works from the beginning. Keep in mind that this may very well be beyond a business's comfort zone, so making a call to your attorney is always a suggested step.

Focus on prevention. Prevention is more difficult with this type of theft, but there are things you should do. One is not only to have an inventory of your urns, but also to make sure they are under lock and key, something that many crematories do not do. A simple holding area, such as a locked cabinet, with an inventory log with sign-in and sign-out sheets can help limit the opportunities for things to go missing.

It is common for crematories to have not only urns but also personal effects of the deceased, as well. Those personal effects are a huge potential liability, and without documentation - such as receipts and logs accounting for them - a business is leaving it to chance that there will be no issues.

Of course having the family understand the potential risks through proper notice included in contracts, such as notification that the crematory does not take responsibility for personal effects left with them, also can help. But remember that no release will protect a business from theft and give it a get-out-of-lawsuit-free card.


Overall, theft is a real problem that affects all businesses, even those in the deathcare profession. The examples above are just a sample of theft in this profession, but in no way cover all the potential issues out there.

However, the common element to any theft issue, whether discussed in this article or not, is that you need to protect your organization by going through the process of identifying, reacting and preventing. By reading this article, you've started identifying the problem. Know that your business is susceptible and take a look at what areas specifically could affect your organization.

Reaction depends on the specific problem, but know that it generally should involve more people than just you. Typically you need to reach out to others for help.

Last but most important, you should focus on prevention, to try to cut down on the need for reaction. So many times, it's after an organization has been damaged by theft that the managers learn all the if-I-hads that could have prevented the problem from occurring. "If I had locked the gates..." "If I had numbered the contracts..." "If I had reviewed and increased my insurance coverage..."

Make this article your wake-up call and do that review now, before you find yourself saying, "Stop, thief!"



Author Poul Lemasters, Esq. is principal of Lemasters Consulting, Cincinnati. He is an attorney and funeral director, licensed as a funeral director and embalmer in Ohio and West Virginia and admitted to practice law in Ohio and Kentucky. He is ICCFA's special cremation legal counsel, and members in good standing may call him to discuss cremation-related issues for up to 20 minutes at no charge to the member (ICCFA pays for this service via an exclusive retainer). He also provides to members in good standing free GPL reviews to check for FTC compliance. You can reach Poul at 513-407-8114 or


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Courtesy"Calm" continued

Give clients every consideration

Good manners are the art of doing the correct thing at the right time, and showing consideration for the other person. That is basically it. Simple, isn't it?

The power of this simple old-fashioned idea is shown in the fact that with just such a creed, countless men and women in funeral and cemetery service have climbed from handling the day-to-day routine to being in positions of leadership in this profession.

Certainly there are people who do not have good manners and yet appear to be successful, but, in reality, they have failed at a key component of life. Certainly my former student was a failure in being a well-mannered human being, and, in her case, paid the consequences for such unbridled rudeness and insensitivity.

This key component, this truth about funeral and cemetery manners, is this: The client has a right to every possible consideration. And this applies to everyone, from the gravediggers to the owner of the company.

If we adopt this simple rule of always exhibiting good, old-fashioned manners, we will usually be on safe ground and positioned to make friends, draw clients, and build relationships, which is essential to keep our companies successful.

You can't operate a funeral home or cemetery unless people like you.

I have a good friend who is a top-notch funeral director. He ignores the sharp tongues and hasty actions of ill-mannered clients and always focuses on finding solutions to the problems that have led to their nasty looks and sour remarks. This friend is no Pollyanna; he is simply devoted to winning people over and making friends. It's that simple.

A funeral director in Iowa tells this story: "Recently, I was standing in the foyer of the funeral home. Suddenly a woman rushed up to me and said, 'I have never seen such a place as this. I want some more acknowledgement cards and I can't get anyone to give me any attention.'"

This was right in the middle of a conversation this funeral director was having with another family. He apologized and quickly decided he would have to do something special, something beyond just getting her a box of cards, something to soothe her. This funeral director was devoted to ensuring her goodwill and future patronage.

This Iowa funeral director followed up on his apology by showering her with extra attention. She was taken to his private office (which was neat and orderly). She was relieved of the bundles she had been carrying and she was brought a hot cup of tea and Danish.

Then the two sat down and proceeded to have a 10-minute conversation. Finally this courteous funeral professional asked if she needed a ride home. She said yes, and one of the funeral home associates transported the former ly irate woman back home.

The last things this sensitive funeral director did was to get her the box of cards she had been so annoyed about just 15 minutes earlier. Later the funeral home associate who drove her home reported that she was all smiles as she left.

One week later, this funeral director received a thank-you note from her.

Of course, our efforts don't always bring forth these results, but in the end what are our other options? Are they any better than what this Iowa funeral professional did? I would suggest that they are not.

If this funeral director had not gone the extra mile, we all know the results could have been mighty unpleasant, including losing this person's business - and possibly that of the entire family - to another firm. That risk is an ever-present possibility in our profession simply because of the number of funeral homes and cemeteries most people can choose from these days.

Try a 'courtesy week'

Good manners are so essential in the funeral and cemetery service profession that one thing I suggest to managers is having a 'courtesy week'.

This may sound strange at first (most new ideas do), but the courtesy week concept simply involves the members of the funeral home and/or cemetery staff keeping a log of every courteous act they perform in a week's time. At the end of the week, everyone compares notes and learns additional ideas for ways to show courtesy.

This is a powerful concept. When we cultivate good people from top to bottom on a consistent basis, families are attracted to us and we will enjoy the satisfaction that comes from an ever-growing personal following. Have you ever wondered why some funeral directors have an impressive following and some don't? Much of it can be linked to old-fashioned courtesy.

The opposite of love and liking is indifference. It is a cancer in society, the attitude of "I'm doing you a favor just by waiting on you," or "You are mighty lucky to have me as your funeral director/cemeterian!"

One funeral director ran into an interesting situation several years ago when confronted with a family that was personally visiting funeral homes and comparing prices. When the family came into the funeral home, they were most candid about their mission.

The funeral director took them into the arrangement office and gave them a general price list and said he had to leave for a minute. He went to the employee lounge to announce that he "had a bunch of shoppers" and then gossiped for a few minutes with the other employees.

A minute turned into five, five minutes turned into 10, and after 15 minutes, the funeral director still did not want to leave, because he wanted to find out which contestant on "The Price Is Right" was going to win the showcase prize from Bob Barker.

When the funeral director returned to the office, the shopping family was gone.

That afternoon, the manager of the funeral home heard about the "shopping" incident and the people involved. The manager cornered the offending funeral director. "What on earth is the matter with you, Jim?"

"Oh," said Jim, "they were just a bunch of shoppers. Lord, we get a ton of those people. They weren't going to buy anything from us, anyway, I could tell."

"SHOPPERS!" the manager thundered, "Why, 'those people' you are talking about have used this funeral home for years. You fumbled this terribly. You should have flooded them with courtesies and attention!"

That fumbling funeral director was also "shopping" the next day - for a job!

To be indifferent or condescending, to be short and curt with clients or to indicate by our manners or lack thereof or tone of voice that we think our clients are too hard to please is simply bad manners and has no place in our noble profession.

Simple isn't it? To be helpful, pleasant, patient, accommodating and considerate in our contact with our valued clients and our work associates is the cornerstone of funeral and cemetery work. It enables us to build enduring relationships and our own professional future by elevating the great funeral home or cemetery we represent.

Author Todd Van Beck is one of the most sought-after speakers and educators in funeral service. He is the general manager of Forest Hills Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Memphis, Tenn. He is also director of education for StoneMor Partners. Todd is Dean of ICCFA University's College of Funeral Home Management and is on the faculty of ICCFAU's new College of Embalming and  Restorative Arts. Contact him at or "like" him on Facebook.

Todd's article is sourced from the ICCFA Magazine for March-April 2014 in its entirety with permission.


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CometComet Lodge continued

Don Kipper, right, is Cemetery Board executive secretary Paul Elvig to halt his cemetery-restoration efforts. photo by Peter Liddell/Seattle Times




"Aren't there graves over there?" Elvig asked Kipper. "Yeah, I guess there were," Kipper replied. "If there were graves there then, there are graves there now," Elvig said.



Kipper ended the confrontation by telling Elvig, "You can do what you want. It's your space."


Dan Leen, a nearby resident, said that last month when some descendants of people buried at the cemetery paid a visit there, Kipper tried to kick them off the property.


Another area resident, W. J. Lathrop, Kipper's former landlord and a longtime friend of Kipper's family, said Kipper has talked about moving a surplus building onto the cemetery and living in it.


Elvig said he would investigate reports that either the city or the county may own the cemetery because of a tax foreclosure years ago. Ownership by a local government might help to preserve the property.


Elvig said he would also provide Leen with some state help in forming a group to take over cleanup and restoration of the cemetery. That group would include descendants of those buried there.


* * * * * *

In a later (undated) clipping Elvig provided:


Resident sorry for marring cemetery

Headstones damaged in bid to remove weeds

By Peyton Whitely, Times staff reporter


A man who had an overgrown cemetery on Beacon Hill bulldozed in an effort to spruce it up has apologized for his actions, saying it's time to stop bickering and move forward with plans to restore the property.


"I am sorry," Don Kipper said in a formal apology for the 1987 bulldozing of the Elysian Fields Cemetery. "I apologize for, maybe, some improper actions I took."


The two-acre pioneer cemetery overlooking the Duwamish River Valley had gone largely untematthews 3-1-12nded for more than 40 years until Kipper, a neighbor, became interested in removing weeds and vegetation. But when he used a bulldozer to do that, he chipped and moved the cemetery's headstones, sparking cries of outrage.


"I have never seen anything like it. It was devastation," said the executive director of the state Cemetery Board, Paul Elvig, who toured the cemetery after the bulldozing. Kipper said later he didn't mean to disturb any headstones but there was no other way to get at the underbrush.


Some 200 early settlers are believed to be buried at the cemetery, which was dedicated in 1895 at 23rd Avenue South and South Graham Street and formerly was known as the Comet Lodge Cemetery. The most recent burial took place in the 1930s.


Kipper apologized at a meeting last week of the Elysian Fields Cemetery Board, a group of people including Kipper, other neighbors and descendants of people buried at the cemetery who intend to raise money and develop restoration plans. But their aim has been slowed to some extent by infighting and differences of opinion. Kipper acknowledged that at this point, the board has no money.


The board is planning a community meeting March 9 at a still undecided location to solicit support for the restoration. On April 15, in honor of Arbor Day, festivities, including a tree-planting ceremony and speeches, are planned to boost the effort.


The Rev. Dr. William Cate, executive director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle and a cemetery board member, said he'd known Kipper and became involved in the effort to restore the property partly because of an interest in history. Kipper's apology came after Cate said it is time to put animosities aside and move forward.


A few interesting links from the dozens to be found by Googling "Comet Lodge Cemetery"


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Risk"Protecting your families and business" continued

Part 2:

Risk Doesn't Pause During Transportation

Some firms depend on the crematory to transport the deceased to the crematory. But having the crematory perform the transportation means the firm loses custody during a critical time. Several factors can affect this loss of custody, including the crematory's van breaking down, whether the crematory adheres to the same standards of dignity and respect, and that the authorizing agent has authorized the firm with the care of the deceased.

Several factors also influence which crematory was selected. Sometimes they include personal or business relationships, convenience and cost.

But the most important factor in choosing a crematory is finding the one that returns the largest amount of cremated human remains that can be achieved and keeps comingling to the lowest possible level.

If that last factor isn't considered, or the crematory chosen doesn't do well on that factor, if could create issues in time. Due diligence is imperative when selecting a crematory. Many associations proved crematory inspection forms and those can be valuable if one knows what to look for. The problem is that many people do not and do not know what is acceptable on the form.

One last consideration is whether the crematory will add the firm as an additional insured and have their insurance company issue an Accord Certificate annually.

Your Firm is Still Responsible for Remains at the Crematory

Once a crematory is chosen and used, what happens at the crematory may have great effects on the firms using it.

For example, if a crematory is not secure, if the facility is not locked when the operator is not present, than anyone could access the equipment, human remains and cremated human remains. This would also give people access to take photos and post them on public digital sites.

Storage of human remains and cremated human remains must be respectful and secure at the crematory. When the human remains arrive to be cremated, if they are not placed immediately into the cremation chamber, they should be placed in a locked refrigeration unit rather than a container in the open area.

When the cremation chamber is cleaned, all measures should be taken to remove as much of the cremated human remains as possible. If there is visible residue remaining, the crematorium is not doing their job correctly, plus they are increasing the amount of co-mingling on each case they perform.

Firms should also know what happens to implanted medical metal that remains after cremation. There are three main ways to handle if after it has been cleaned of all removable cremated human remains: trash, recycle or bury in a cemetery. Whatever one used must be noted on the cremation authorization. The firms that recycle and receive money must inform the consumer that they will be receiving money.

Further, only one cremated human remains should be processed at a time. When the crematory processes more than one at a time, it creates an opportunity for the paperwork and labeling to be mixed.

Another issue of security at the crematory is where the cremated human remains are stored. Often, they are left sitting on a desk or shelf. But these are not secure locations. To compound the situation, if the crematory itself isn't secure then the cremated human remains are at an even higher risk of being lost or misplaced.

The Final Return of CHR is One Last Opportunity for Loss

When cremated human remains are released from the crematory to the funeral home or to the authorized agent, documentation should be retained. If the cremated human remains are released to the incorrect person, the damage could affect all parties.

The importance of documenting to whom the cremated human remains may be released has already been established, but it follows to make sure that the person is actually the correct person and to document that. A way to accomplish that is to retain a copy of the person's identification and a signed release. Without asking for and attaching a copy of their identification to a signed release, a firm cannot prove to whom the cremated human remains were released.

But cremated human remains are not always picked up promptly, creating another opportunity for loss. When the cremated human remains arrive back at the funeral home, they should be logged and retained in a secured location with limited access.

Again, the biggest risk with cremation is that cremated human remains are irreplaceable. If they are lost or released to the wrong person and disposed of, they can never be replaced.

Lastly, every firm should establish and periodically review cremation policies and procedures. In fact, most death care businesses that deal with cremation do not have written policies and procedures. Most of these businesses are simply doing what they have done for years without realizing the amount of risk involved when a consumer requests cremation.

Every firm should establish and review current procedures and attempt to lower the possibility of loss. Even the minimum standards are not protective enough when dealing with cremation.

The author says: When 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 when dealing with the consumers that chose cremation.


Author Jim Starks, CFuE, CCrE is president of J. Starks Consulting in Lutz, Fla., and a nationally-recognized trainer on funeral home and crematory risk management. He used his experience in both funeral home and crematory operations and risk management, combined with his involvement with funeral homes of all sizes and geographies, to become an authority at controlling risk and loss in the death care industry, providing lectures and presentations to private firms, as well as regional, state and national associations. He also conducts private audits and risk assessments to independent funeral homes and crematories in the US and Canada, often identifying ways to save or generate thousands of dollars of profit. Contact Jim at 813-765-9844 or


This article sourced from Funeral & Cemetery News September and October 2014 with permission.


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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 

Sumner City Cemetery is seeking

a full-time Cemetery Administrative Manager

offering a generous salary and benefits.


Click here for the application information.




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 




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 425-345-6186

News articles, editorials, press releases, commentary are all welcomed.

For information about membership, advertising or editorial policy,

contact Judy Faaberg, Executive Director.


Branding 28

The Northwest's only association serving the full spectrum of the death care profession. 

In This Issue
What to do when a low-price competitor enters your market
Abandoned cemetery remains a buried mystery
As cremation grows, churches accommodate
New VA Cemetery benefits bulletin
Hepatitis C vaccine shows promise
Protecting your families and business: Cremation Safeguards
Bulletin Board: Hiring Fair Nov. 15