Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Difference in Burial Costs in England

London is one of the most expensive places in England for a person to be buried, a study has revealed.

According to research by Avalon Funeral Plans, the cost of burying someone varies by more than £1,000 across the country.

Lewisham, in south London, is the third most costly area where it costs £1,082, followed by the City of London at £992 and Rushmoor in Hampshire at £968.

But Lichfield in Staffordshire is the most expensive place for an interment at £1,270, more than 25 times the £50 charged for a burial in Blaby, Leicestershire.

Elmbridge in Surrey is the second most expensive place in which to bury a loved one in a council-run cemetery at £1,138.

At the other end of the scale, it costs just £93 for an internment in Wyre, Lancashire, while burying someone costs £100 in South Bucks, £115 in Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire and £129 in Hambleton in North Yorkshire.

A Lewisham Council spokesman said: "These figures are not comparable. Some relate only to digging fees whilst others are based on differing lease periods for burial space."

The group said that with burial space running out, and councils looking to raise revenue, the cost of burying a loved one had increased. It added that, as well as paying for the internment, families also had to purchase the rights for a burial plot, further increasing the cost.

Mike Cooper, managing director at Avalon, said: "The top 10 list of internment fees is, unsurprisingly, dominated by boroughs in the South East and London. It just shows how a lack of space has squeezed fees to a premium." He said 72% of the 600,000 people who died in the UK each year were cremated, with only 28% buried.

He said: "As space dwindles and fees grow, the number of burials is expected to decrease rapidly. It seems that dying has become a very expensive business. Whilst the traditional funeral is still part of our cultural fabric, burials are now out of reach for many of the population. It's no surprise that cremation is by far the most popular choice for funerals."


Monday, November 29, 2010

Leslie Nielsen Dead at 84

Leslie Nielsen, whose longtime career as a square-jawed dramatic actor took a sudden turn into comedy with gut-busting spoofs like "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun," has died at age 84, his family said Sunday.

The Canadian-born Nielsen's career reached back into the early days of television, when he made frequent appearances on live drama series like "Goodyear Playhouse."

He played the earnest starship captain in the 1956 science-fiction classic "Forbidden Planet" and made regular appearances on a wide range of TV dramas into the 1970s, including "Hawaii Five-O."

He also played the captain of an overturned ocean liner in the 1972 disaster movie, "The Poseidon Adventure."

Much of that changed in 1980, when he was cast as a doctor aboard an endangered jetliner in the gag-a-minute disaster-movie parody "Airplane!"
Remembering Leslie Nielsen

Nielsen's deadpan response to the question "Surely, you can't be serious?" with "I am serious -- and don't call me Shirley" helped launch a second career.

The film's producers went on to cast him in their short-lived television series "Police Squad!"

He reprised that show's bumbling lead character, Lt. Frank Drebin, a decade later in three "Naked Gun" movies, in which he shared the screen with O.J. Simpson and Priscilla Presley.

Nielsen appeared in several similar but less-acclaimed spoofs following those films.

Nielsen was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2003. The medal is awarded to "Canadian citizens for outstanding achievement and service to the country or to humanity at large."

Nielsen died of complications of pneumonia in a hospital near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, surrounded by family and friends, a family statement said.

Doug Nielsen called his uncle's death a "great loss."

"He was extremely funny," the younger Nielsen said in an interview with CNN affiliate Global Network News in Vancouver.

"At all of our family get-togethers, he was always the life of the party and a great-natured guy," Nielsen said. "He was a very good friend to me."


Kim Kardashian is "Dead"

Kim Kardashian died on the Internet Monday.

At least that's what her new ad says.

The reality star and endorsement-loving star is taking part in a “Digital Life Sacrifice” campaign for World Aids Day, where she is quitting Facebook and Twitter until $1 million is raised for HIV/AIDS awareness.

Yes, that’s $1 million. An amount she probably could have just donated. We’re just saying.

But anyway, Kardashian poses in a coffin, in full hair, makeup and tight dress, all to send a message.

The event is organized by Alicia Keys’ “Keep a Child Alive” organization. Other celebs who opted to digitally die include Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Ryan Seacrest, Serena Williams and Katie Holmes.

"It's so important to shock you to the point of waking up," Keys said. "It's not that people don't care or it's not that people don't want to do something, it's that they never thought of it quite like that."

The campaign, she said, puts the disease in perspective.

"This is such a direct and instantly emotional way and a little sarcastic, you know, of a way to get people to pay attention," said Keys, who has more than 2.6 million followers on Twitter.

The foundation, which began in 2003, will accept donations through text messages and bar-code technology, which is featured in the charity's Buy Life campaign. Raised efforts support families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.

"It's about love and respect and human dignity," she added.

Keys said recruiting celebrities was difficult because of scheduling, but "once I got people on the phone and I was able to paint the concept for them, everybody was in."

Not one person said no, Keys recalled.

"I have a feeling that Gaga is going to raise it all by herself," Blake said. Lady Gaga has more than 7.2 million followers on Twitter, and nearly 24 million fans on Facebook.

Whatever happened to a good, old-fashioned telethon?


Funeral Directors Mostly Likely to Laugh at...

Christmas cracker jokes have long been suspected of being the death to any good family lunch. And now there is proof of their deadliness: the only ones to laugh are funeral directors.

A study has found that of ten major professions or trades funeral directors find Christmas cracker jokes the funniest. Vicars are the least likely to laugh at the sometimes terrible puns traditionally found on the slips of paper.

A total of 1000 people were involved in the study, undertaken by the Christmas cracker firm Robin Reed, with 100 from each job tested on their reactions to the jokes. Each person's reaction was rated and classified into three categories: an audible laugh, a smile or little or no reaction at all.

Funeral directors, followed by doctors and then accountants were found to be the most likely to laugh out loud. Vicars were the least likely to laugh, followed by police and then butchers.

The jokes used were firmly in the tradition of terrible puns and creaking word play. One was: Q, "Why did the scarecrow win so many awards?". A. "Because he was outstanding in his field."

Another was: Q. "What kind of pants do clouds wear?". A: "Thunderwear".

Chris Parker, a former president of The Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, said: "I'm not surprised by this at all. All funeral directors need to have a sense of humour, and a black one at that.

"It can be hard sometimes not to laugh in front of clients, but laughter really is the best medicine at times of grief.

The chief executive of Robin Reed, Julian Reed, said: “I’m not surprised that undertakers topped our chuckle chart – people often use humour to deal with difficult circumstances. We find that sillier jokes go down better in hard times."

Christmas crackers have been manufactured in Britain for more than 160 years. At its height after World War II, Thomas Smith, the original company to make them, was churning out 50 million products a year at two large factories, employing more than 500 people.

The cracker laughing league table:

1. Funeral directors

2. Doctors

3. Accountants

4. Librarians

5. Teachers

6. Hair dressers

7. Lawyers

8. Butchers

9. Police

10. Vicars


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Funeral Home Rents Reindeer

An Idaho funeral home is renting out reindeer for holiday events.

The reindeer available for rent at the Cloverdale Funeral Home in Boise all answer to “Prancer.”

Manager Robert Boetticher Jr. says the previous owner first brought reindeer to the funeral home grounds, where they have been rented out for years during the holidays.

The funeral home now has six reindeer, and a 12-year-old female named Prancer is the best-known, though she is now retired and no longer does events. The Idaho Statesman reports three other reindeer have been trained to help pick up the holiday slack.

Boetticher says the three weren’t given names, so he calls them all Prancer after their popular predecessor.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

How Technology is Changing Funeral Register Books

Today, families are looking for new ways to personalize their loved ones funeral and memorial services. Life is all about options, and families believe that even a funeral, in fact, especially for a funeral, they should have options to create a memorable and meaningful celebration.

Families are looking for unique funeral stationery including funeral register books, prayer cards and memorial folders, personalized funeral candles, dvd tribute videos and funeral webcasting.

Specifically, a unique funeral register book and other personalized stationery honors a loved one and speaks to mourners in a meaningful way. Creating custom-made funeral register books for client families help them tell their loved ones story. It reminds mourners, at a glance, what made their loved one special.

Whereas a generic funeral register book misses an opportunity to help survivors, a personalized register book can provide a real opportunity to celebrate life and cherish the unique and individual spirit of their loved one. Furthermore, funeral homes that are still creating generic, simple and standard register books are now completing with a fast growing sector of technology smart funeral homes that provide these personalization options.

As a funeral professional, you have encountered some of life's most challenging situations - from comforting a grieving widow to consoling the parents of a child who has passed away. Your ability to remain calm and collected is insurmountable. But yet, each of us has our Achilles heal. Is technology yours?

In order to be able to offer your client families the best options for funeral register books and other funeral stationery, change is inevitable. The good news is that new technologies exist today that are easy to use and very cost effective.

Being afraid of technology and change is a common problem amongst all people. Learning any new process or developing any new skill takes time. Just ask the five year old learning how to ride a bike without training wheels. But, those who overcome their fear of learning new skills and technologies advance in the world and are rewarded.

Don't be afraid of technology, your families will thank you.

Frazer Consultants primary products and services include interactive funeral home website design, funeral tribute video software, funeral webcasting, funeral candles, funeral keepsakes, funeral register books, personalized funeral stationery, and funeral holiday remembrance ornaments. For more information, please visit http://www.frazerconsultants.com or call 866-372-9372.

Thieves Steal from the Dead

Heartless thieves have broken into a funeral home and stolen treasured items and jewellery belonging to people who have passed away.

Today Humberside Police, the funeral home's owners and the newly-retired Rector of Grimsby, Canon Michael Hunter, made a united plea for the items to be returned for the sake of the deceased's families.

The raid at Steven Near funeral parlour, on Wellowgate, Grimsby, was branded as "distressing" and "tasteless".

A safe was removed, although a quantity of petty cash remained untouched.


No Mourners at Elvis Presley's Funeral

Millons of tearful fans tuned in to watch the funeral of rock and roll icon Elvis Presley more than 30 years ago.

But the contrast with his Midland namesake’s own send-off at West Bromwich Crematorium yesterday could not have been greater – or more poignant.

For Elvis Aaron Presley, believed to be from Sandwell, departed the world without a single mourner paying their respects at his funeral.
Neither was there a service or even any flowers.

A space reserved for floral tributes to Mr Presley stood empty next to wreaths and tributes to ‘mom’ – picked out in white blooms – left by mourners attending other funerals at the venue.

His death notice, carried in the Birmingham Mail, contained none of the usual touching tributes from family or friends, simply an acknowledgement that the 70-year-old died peacefully on November 3rd 2010.


Indiana Funeral Home Earns Green Certificate

Moore Funeral Home was the first Indiana funeral home to recently earn the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) Green Funeral Practices Certificate, which recognizes member funeral homes for being leading providers of green funeral services in their community and for integrating green practices into their business operations.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental issues such as energy conservation and the preservation of natural resources.

According to a poll by Harris Interactive, just more than half (53 percent) of Americans report that they have done something to make their lifestyle more green.

According to the Funeral Memorial Information Council's 2010 "Study of American Attitudes Toward Ritualization and Memorialization," 34 percent of consumers were very aware or somewhat aware of green funeral services. Regardless of their awareness, 43 percent of respondents indicated an interest in exploring green funeral services.

In response to these trends, funeral directors have begun exploring ways they can meet the service needs of these families and are offering green services, products and funeral packages.

To earn the exclusive NFDA Green Funeral Practices Certificates, funeral homes must fulfill specific criteria, including offering green funeral service and merchandise choices, including biodegradable caskets and urns.

Certificate holders must have implemented a green responsibility plan addressing the reduction of waste and energy use, water conservation and recycling practices, and the use of environmentally friendly products.

Firms must demonstrate participation in educational programs related to green practices, affirm their commitment to NFDA's Code of Professional Conduct and attest to their compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations governing the profession.

"Most folks would agree that things don't change much in funeral service. In fact, tradition and consistency are exactly what people want when they lose a loved one," Moore Funeral Home owner Rob Moore said. "Yet occasionally, something new comes to funeral service. We seek out those innovations and, when appropriate, we add them to our long list of services.

"And we are proud to once again be a leader in innovative funeral service practices."

NFDA is the world's leading funeral service association, serving 18,500 individual members who represent more than 9,000 funeral homes in the United States and internationally. From its headquarters in Brookfield, Wis., and its Advocacy Division office in Washington, D.C., NFDA informs, educates and advocates to help members enhance the quality of service they provide to families. For more information, log on to www.nfda.org.

Moore Funeral Home is a family owned business, celebrating its 125th year of service. It is the Wabash Valley's most honored funeral home, having been chosen for the 11th consecutive year in a row to receive the NFDA Pursuit of Excellence award and a two-time recipient of the Indiana Funeral Directors Association Award of Excellence.

Last year, the National Funeral Directors Association inducted Moore Funeral Home into its Hall of Excellence -- one of only 10 national funeral homes to receive the recognition last year.


Flexible Funeral Coverage

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Funeral policies for the unbanked can be a headache for so many reasons. If you don't have a bank account, a debit order is impossible; if you're a contract worker and you move around and have no fixed address, you can’t receive mail.

Because people do need funeral cover, however, Sanlam Developing Markets has come up with a product which it feels will make life easier for the unbanked. It's called "'icover" and it's really a do-it-yourself product because you can purchase it and pay premiums without having to liaise with a call centre or a bank. This means you don't pay any commission, which is already a saving that customers can appreciate.

According to Heinie Werth, the chief executive of SDM, joining is really as easy as purchasing an icover Funeral Starter Pack for R9,95 at your nearest Shoprite, Checkers and Checkers Hyper store, and registering at the Money Market counter using your ID and cash for your first premium.

The starter pack contains three icover products that cater for different needs, so you can choose the product that suits your needs and pocket.

The first, My Family Funeral Policy, covers individuals, their spouses and children up to the age of 21 for up to R20 000, for R64,95 a month. To pay your premium, you can go to a Money Market counter at the stores named above and simply top up the policy each month.

This is a recurring 10-year policy that covers any children you wish to include in the policy, be they yours, a sibling's, adopted or a neighbour's. Also, if your elderly mother takes out a policy but can't pay it regularly because she lives in a remote rural area, you can pay that cover on her behalf at your nearest store. So icover immediately offers you flexibility in terms of where you pay, as well as whom you can make payments for.

There is one exclusion, though, because of underwriting demands -- if someone covered by the policy dies of natural causes within six months, there will be no pay-out. So there is a six-month waiting period when it comes to natural death.

"Remember that no medical checks are required to take out this policy, so if someone is already ill this won’t be known to Sanlam," says Gillian Samuels, head of customer engagement at icover. "From the seventh month onwards, though, you are covered -- unless, of course, death is caused by suicide or reckless behaviour that leads to death. This is standard with funeral policies."

The second product on offer is My Own Funeral Policy, which covers an individual and his or her children for R20 000 at R44,95 a month. This product is ideal for a single parent because cover for a spouse is not priced in, but note that there's a slight reduction in cover (and not an increase in premium as with most other insurers) for those in the older age range of 60 to 69 years. The reason for this, once again, is that no medical tests are required and the risk of death is higher in the higher age groups.

"In designing the product, we preferred to adjust the cover slightly than increase the premium to a level that may be unaffordable to elderly customers," said Samuels.

Finally, icover offers My Journey and Personal Accident Policy, which offers accidental death cover of R30 000 for an individual for 30 days, and costs R19,95 a month. It works on a top-up basis, though, so you can use it when you need extra cover or are taking a trip, for example. You're not committed to paying the same premium each month, as you are with the other two products.

With My Family Funeral Policy and My Own Funeral Policy, you have a month's grace, so if you fail to pay one month you will have until the next month to remedy this. If you miss two payments, though, the policy will lapse. Getting cover again involves buying a new pack and registering a new policy.

Perhaps one of the best features of icover is that all notification is by SMS. If you don't have a fixed address, or mail delivery is particularly bad in your area, it doesn't matter as you'll receive all correspondence via SMS. You simply have to provide your cellphone number.

The simplicity and flexibility of the product may well encourage the cash-strapped lower-income market to buy into the scheme -- but whether they can continue to pay the premiums is, of course, a moot point.

Then again, as Samuels points out, "When you choose to take up a product -- and you don't feel you're being forced to buy something -- lapse rates are reasonably low. This product should empower people because, essentially, they're controlling the policies themselves."


Friday, November 26, 2010

Say Good-Bye to Generic Funeral Register Books

A unique funeral register book and other personalized stationery honors a loved one and speaks to mourners in a meaningful way.

Creating custom-made funeral register books for client families help them tell their loved ones story. It reminds mourners, at a glance, what made their loved one special.

Whereas a generic funeral register book misses an opportunity to help survivors, a personalized register book can provide a real opportunity to celebrate life and cherish the unique and individual spirit of their loved one. Furthermore, funeral homes that are still creating generic, simple and standard register books are now completing with a fast growing sector of technology smart funeral homes that provide these personalization options.

Why Partner with Frazer Consultants?
Unlike any other funeral stationery, Frazer Consultants' Life Journey Stationery funeral register books are of the industries highest quality, the largest variety and are the easiest, most cost effective register books to produce.

With over 450 professionally designed themes for every interest, hobby, occupation, and religious background, Life Journey register books aren't the tired funeral stationery of yester-year. Printing on-demand, from blank stock instead of pre-printed paper, Life Journey Stationery provides a truly personalized funeral register book at a low, fixed cost per page rate. Additionally, Frazer Consultants robust, world renowned software is integrated with leading funeral management software systems that allow for one time data entry.
Generic funerals are a thing of the past. No two lives are alike, and no two funeral register books should be either. Learn more about what Frazer Consultants can do for you and your client families.

Frazer Consultants primary products and services include interactive funeral home website design, funeral tribute video software, funeral webcasting, funeral candles, funeral keepsakes, funeral register books, personalized funeral stationery, and funeral holiday remembrance ornaments. For more information, please visit http://www.frazerconsultants.com or call 866-372-9372.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Funeral Professionals! Don't Be Afraid of Technology

As a funeral professional, you have encountered some of life's most challenging situations - from comforting a grieving widow to consoling the parents of a child who has passed away. Your ability to remain calm and collected is insurmountable. But yet, each of us has our Achilles heal. Is technology yours?

Fear. It can change your life if you let it. 

Being afraid of technology and change is a common problem amongst all people. Learning any new process or developing any new skill takes time. Just ask the five year old learning how to ride a bike without training wheels. But, those who overcome their fear of learning new skills and technologies advance in the world and are rewarded.

Thankfully, death care professionals have Frazer Consultants. Every step of the way, Frazer Consultants will be there to hold the seat of the bike as you navigate and embrace their new technology that is revolutionizing the funeral industry.

What Families Want

Today, families are looking for new ways to personalize their loved ones funeral and memorial services. Life is all about options, and families believe that even a funeral, in fact, especially for a funeral, they should have options to create a memorable and meaningful celebration. Families are looking for unique funeral stationery including funeral register books, prayer cards and memorial folders, personalized funeral candles, dvd tribute videos and funeral webcasting.

Providing these personalization options requires advanced technology, but what it doesn't require is a long, arduous learning curve. Having technology that is so advanced, with the ability to truly personalize a funeral or memorial service yet one that is truly easy to use, is what Frazer Consultants can deliver. With access to over 450 professionally designed themes and software that is so robust it's integrated with leading funeral home management software systems that allow for one time data entry -- it's the only solution that you'll ever need.

Taking Off the Training Wheels - 24/7 Support

Frazer Consultants can help you step into the future of funeral technology. No matter what your user level is, Frazer Consultants will be there to assist you every step of the way.

Don't be afraid of technology, your families will thank you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Body Cremated by Mistake Leads to Fines - Suspensions

Fines and suspensions have been levied against a Summer Avenue funeral home and a mortuary that last year cremated a man meant for burial and buried a woman meant for cremation.

The mistake and an alleged cover-up came to light earlier this year when the woman's daughter, acting on a tip from a former funeral home employee, got a court order to dig up the grave of John G. Hughes and found the body of her mother, Billie Sue Smith.

Hughes' body was mistakenly cremated, although his name was on the headstone of the burial plot where Smith's body was disinterred.

The Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers this month fined the High Point Funeral Chapel at 3788 Summer $15,000 for not properly identifying the remains of Smith and Hughes, and for allowing seven other cremations without a proper permit.

Also, the license of funeral director Herbert Shane McElveen was suspended for a year beginning in January.

Mid-South Mortuary Service at 3774 Summer, which stores bodies in a cooler before cremation by High Point, was fined $16,000 for failing to accurately identify the remains of Smith and Hughes and for failing to obtain required permits for several other cremations.

The license of the mortuary's manager, Margie Beasley White, was suspended for six months.

The funeral service's license to perform cremations has been suspended since March, but will be reinstated in January upon proof of establishing a proper identification system for remains.

McElveen and White agreed to the settlement with the state board, records show.

The mistake came to light when former High Point embalmer Oliver Ewing told the board that Hughes, 64, was mistakenly cremated instead of buried in June of last year.

He said the body of Smith, a 78-year-old nurse, then was stripped of all identification and buried in Hughes' plot at Forest Hill Cemetery instead of being cremated.

"I was the one who transported the body to the cemetery," declared Ewing, who said he was acting at that time on orders of his bosses at High Point. "The family of Billie Sue Smith has the ashes of John Hughes, and Billie Sue Smith is buried as John Hughes."

McElveen said there was no cover-up.


Frazer Consultants Enhances Funeral Register Books

Frazer Consultants offers the industries most enhanced funeral register books complete with one time data entry due to integration with leading funeral management software companies.

Waunakee, WI., November 24, 2010 - Frazer Consultants a personalization, technology, and consulting company for the death care profession recently announced several new enhancements of its Tribute Center Software suite part of which funeral homes use to create funeral register books.

Today, families and friends are looking for new ways to personalize their loved ones funeral and memorial services. A unique funeral register book, complete with professionally produced themes and the most advanced printing options, Frazer Consultants Life Journey Stationery offers total personalization to client families. More importantly, this technology is now so advanced, it is integrated with leading funeral home management software companies allowing for true one time data entry.

Due to recent technology developments and partnerships, any of Frazer Consultants 450 pre-formatted, personalized templates can be used to create a professional quality funeral register book at the click of a button. No duplicate entry of data is required. Once the data is housed in the funeral management software, at a click of a button the data can be imported into the Tribute Center and auto fills yours register book for a quick and easy method of creating the ultimate personalized register book. “No other company in the industry can offer this kind of ease” said Matt Frazer of Frazer Consultants.

"It’s our goal to help families and friends celebrate the life of their loved one, and to find comfort in a meaningful funeral register book,” said Frazer. “The Tribute Center Software makes it simple for funeral professionals to quickly and easily design a funeral register book because our software is integrated with the leading funeral management software systems."

When your trying to decide who you are going to partner with for your personalized register book options, the first question you should ask is “does your system integrate with my funeral home management software?”, if the answer is “no”, then keep looking!

Frazer Consultants
Frazer Consultants primary products and services include interactive funeral home website design, funeral tribute video software, funeral webcasting, funeral candles, funeral keepsakes, funeral register books, personalized funeral stationery, and funeral holiday remembrance ornaments. For more information, please visit http://www.frazerconsultants.com or call 866-372-9372.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Frazer Consultants Partners with Coats Funeral Home of Michigan

Coats Funeral Home of Waterford, Michigan joins Frazer Consultants family of death care customers to offer client families world renowned personalization products including tribute videos, personalized printing, and memorial webcasting.

Waunakee, WI., November 23, 2010 - Frazer Consultants a personalization, technology, and consulting company for the death care profession announces its recent partnership agreement with Coats Funeral Home of Waterford, Michigan. This new agreement enables Coats Funeral Home client families' access to the industries most exceptional personalization products.

Coats Funeral Home has been offering memorial webcasting for over two years to every single family that they serve. To increase the quality of their webcasts with reliable service, Coats was looking to find a superior solution. Frazer Consultants filled that need and exceeded expectations.

“Frazer Consultants has been great to work with! Their service and support is by far one of the best I have had the pleasure to work with,” said Pam Fagan from Coats Funeral Home. “Our funeral home has been committed to meeting the needs of families and thinking outside of the box. Frazer Consultants has helped us to stay on that cutting edge in our community.”

Frazer Consultants Tribute Center Software offers the most innovative, cutting-edge technology to honor the life of a loved one. Giving the funeral professional the ability to create high-end personalized funeral stationery, amazing DVD tribute videos and world class quality live or delayed funeral webcasting -- all in one suite.

“We are pleased that Coats Funeral Home entrusts Frazer Consultants as a personalization and technology partner," said Matt Frazer of Frazer Consultants. "It’s customers like them who are willing to adapt to an ever-so-changing market that will thrive and bring new value to their families and this industry as a whole.”

Frazer Consultants primary products and services include interactive funeral home website design, funeral tribute video software, funeral webcasting, funeral candles, funeral keepsakes, funeral register books, personalized funeral stationery, and funeral holiday remembrance ornaments. For more information, please visit http://www.frazerconsultants.com or call 866-372-9372.

Crime Boss Dead - Mafia Funeral in Montreal

It was, by all accounts, a relatively modest Mafia funeral.

For a man who enjoyed a three-decade reign in the underworld, Nicolo Rizzuto's was a simple ceremony that eschewed much of the ostentatious pomp of past mobster farewells.

A procession of black vehicles — three town cars, six limousines, and one hearse — filed their way past a crowd of curious onlookers, transporting heaping white floral arrangements.

What followed was a 90-minute ceremony led entirely by an Italian-speaking priest. None of Rizzuto's relatives spoke. One witness said there wasn't even a eulogy.

At the end, hundreds of mourners filed out. A few distant family friends agreed to speak with the media outside and shared a few fleeting memories of their encounters with the man.

Rizzuto was often considered the last of a generation, an old-style don who grew up on Sicilian farms and always wore a fedora in public.

But his funeral was a far cry from some of the others for men who shared his place in the underworld hierarchy.

Outside this same church, in 1978, 31 black Cadillacs reportedly lined up for the funeral of Paolo Violi, who was killed in the purge that saw the Rizzutos rise to prominence.

Neither of those affairs could compare with the 1931 spectacle for murdered New York Mob boss Salvatore Maranzano, with its reported 100 Cadillac limousines, two-dozen separate cars carrying flower bouquets, his silver casket, and thousands lining the streets in a mile-long funeral procession.

The biggest surprise at Monday's funeral came, perhaps, in the form of a little black box.

The dark package — about the size of a shoebox, with a white cross taped onto the top — was left on the front steps Notre-Dame-de-la-Defense Church early Monday morning.

It was said to contain a note. The package was seized by investigators for analysis.

"The contents of the note will be kept confidential until our investigators have had a chance to look at it," said police Const. Daniel Lacoursiere.

Lacoursiere said it was unclear whether the box left at the church door was part of any Italian tradition. He said the Italian-born priest had never heard of any such practice.

Rizzuto's gold-coloured coffin was pulled from the hearse and carried inside by pallbearers. It resembled the gold-coloured coffin used at the funeral for his grandson and namesake, who was also gunned down last year.

The service ended with the soothing sound of bells, followed by a quiet retreat for burial. The immediate Rizzuto family — Nicolo's wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and grandchildren — were present.

But his son Vito, the reputed head of the Mafia in Montreal now serving out a sentence in a Colorado prison, was not present.

His extradition and sentence in the U.S. touched off the violence that has seen the once-dominant clan all but decimated over the last few years. He isn't due out of jail until 2012.

Vito Rizzuto has now missed the funeral for his son, several close friends and, Monday, for his 86-year-old father who was shot last week by a marksman lurking outside the family home.

One family friend painted a picture of the deceased that contrasted sharply with his popular image as a battle-hardened mobster.

"I remember him as a very nice and gentle person," said Francesco Bennici, 71, who knew Rizzuto for about 40 years.

Bennici, who came from the same Sicilian province as Rizzuto but said they met in Montreal, described the funeral as a sad affair and said of the mourners inside: "Everybody's sorry, everybody's sad."

Bennici brushed aside reporters' questions about Rizzuto's documented Mafia ties.

"What you hear, I don't know, and I don't hear the same thing," he said.

Alberto Pizzi said it was important to pay his respects to a man he'd met not long after he arrived in Canada some 57 years ago.

"For me, he's not a criminal," said Pizzi, an accountant who had business dealings with the family. "Everyone knew everyone and there was a respect between us."

A few hundred members of the public gathered on the sidewalk, standing two- and three-deep in some places, mainly out of curiosity. One man, sipping coffee from a paper cup, expressed incredulity that someone would have targeted Rizzuto at his advanced age.

"At 86 years old, it doesn't make any sense," said Frank Santomassimo, a local resident standing on the sidewalk.

"My own opinion is, if he did something wrong, go get him somewhere else, not in the house with the family present."

Nicolo Rizzuto's slaying is the latest in a series of attacks against the family: his grandson and namesake Nick Jr. was shot dead last December; his son-in-law Paolo Renda was kidnapped in May and hasn't been heard from since; and another Mafia boss close to the family, Agostino Cuntrera, was assassinated in front of his food-distribution business this summer.

None of those crimes have been solved.

The heightened police presence wasn't just there to protect the Rizzutos. It was also there gathering intelligence.

Police detectives kept an eye on comings and goings, with some officers filming both the mourners and their licence plates after a weekend of similar surveillance at the Rizzuto-owned funeral parlour.

Police officers snapped away, blending into the rest of the photo-snapping public. News photographers set up perches on balconies across the street to get a better vantage point.

A number of reporters also attempted to enter the church to cover the funeral in person. Many were either blocked at the entrance or whisked out by a swarm of burly security guards.

Leopoldo Seccarecca, a long-time church volunteer, called the funeral a typical Catholic service.

He estimated that as many attended Monday's crowded service as the one for Nick Rizzuto Jr. in early January. The church seats about 800.

"It's a person that everyone knows and people come here from the curiosity," Seccarecca said.

"I don't know him personally. I see what everyone else sees. I sell fruits and I see these people because we are in a business."


Funeral Manager Retires After 47 Years

Hopewell native Wayne Hedgepeth has announced his retirement from the Hopewell Chapel of J.T. Morriss & Son Funeral Home & Cremation Service after 47 years of service, the last 39 of which he served as chapel manager.

Hedgepeth was only the third manager in the chapel's 51-year history. J.T. Morriss & Son opened the Hopewell chapel in December 1959, with John R. Langford as manager. He was succeeded by Everett M. Ellis in 1965, after which Hedgepeth became manager in 1971.

Under Hedgepeth's direction, the Hopewell chapel has experienced unprecedented growth, more than tripling the number of families served in the Hopewell/Prince George area since becoming manager, and has made the highest level of individualized, compassionate attention the chapel's top priority.

His retirement is effective December 31, 2010.

"Wayne's management philosophy is simple, but effective," said Tolleison Morriss VI, president of the 154-year-old J.T. Morriss & Son Funeral Home. "Don't meet expectations, exceed them." He added, "Whether Wayne or his staff are working with a family whose loved one unexpectedly passed away, or helping an individual pre-plan his own funeral, patience, compassion and a full explanation of what can be expected can always be counted on."

In his retirement, Hedgepeth will continue to have a presence at the Hopewell chapel, interacting and assisting families as he has always done. "The best part for me, is that I do not have to say farewell, because I am fortunate to be able to continue the things I enjoy most, helping people in times of need."

As a senior at Hopewell High School, Hedgepeth began his association with J.T. Morriss & Son in September of 1963 as a part-time employee after school and on weekends during the time when ambulance service was provided by the funeral home. Upon graduation from high school, he apprenticed with the funeral home while completing his associates degree at Richard Bland College. Having chosen to pursue a career in funeral service, he continued his education and graduated from the Indiana College of Mortuary Science in Indianapolis. He then received his funeral director's and embalming licenses in 1969. And finally, in 1971, he was appointed manager of the Hopewell chapel.

"I have had the pleasure of working for three generations of the Morriss family, starting with J. T Morriss, IV, J.T. Morriss, V (Jay) , and J. T. Morriss, VI (Tolleison)," Hedgepeth said. "There have been many changes and additions to the traditional funeral during my 47 years with J.T. Morriss & Son, allowing us to provide a more personalized, dignified funeral service than ever before."

When asked why he chose to pursue a career in the funeral business, Hedgepeth replied, "I enjoy assisting families at a time when they need guidance from a compassionate individual and to help them make dignified arrangements for their loved ones."

J.T. Morriss & Son funeral director and longtime Hopewell resident Jonathan Terry has been named Hedgepeth's successor.


Prepaid Funeral Business Officers Defrauded Customers

Officers at a prearranged funeral business defrauded customers, funeral homes and states out of as much as $600 million, according to a 50-count federal indictment announced Monday.

The U.S. attorney’s office in St. Louis announced indictment on fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and other charges against Randall Sutton, 65; Sharon Nekol Province, 66; Doug Cassity, 64; his son Brent Douglas Cassity, 43; Howard Wittner, 73; and David Wulf, 58.

All six defendants are from St. Louis County, and all were controlling officers for National Prearranged Services Inc., based in Clayton.

Brent Cassity is listed in the Missouri secretary of state’s office as the owner of Mount Washington Forever Funeral Home in Independence, which closed in July.

Among other things, the indictment alleges that National illegally removed money from prearranged funeral trusts, and that Doug Cassity used the funds to buy residential real estate and pay his personal expenses.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Been Shopping at the Morgue Lately?

The morgue is about the last place you would think of to go shopping, so it's perhaps unsurprising that sales at Los Angeles County's coroner gift store are next to dead.

Tucked as unobtrusively as possible in a closed-door room off the coroner's lobby, the store is jam-packed with mortality-mocking merchandise: Water bottles marked "bodily fluids," boxer shorts dubbed "undertakers," toe tags, crime-scene tape and beach towels bearing the county coroner's trademarked symbol of a body outline.

Trouble is, few people know about the tongue-in-cheek store and its related website, "Skeletons in a Closet." The shop's biggest customers? No shock here — homicide detectives.

"Most people know it through word-of-mouth," said Craig Harvey, the department's chief of operations. "But we are mentioned in guidebooks and we get tourists."

County auditors, however, say given the unique nature of the trinkets — the department is believed to be the nation's only coroner with a trademarked merchandise line — the 17-year-old business could be a robust moneymaker if infused with marketing lifeblood.

They recommend the coroner hire an outside firm with an eye to marketing the merchandise in high-traffic tourist areas, such as Hollywood Boulevard and Los Angeles International Airport.

Harvey is first to admit the merchandise has potential. It just hasn't been a priority for a department that prides itself as one of the top forensic science units in the country, as well as the busiest.

"There is a mystique about the LA County coroner, something people identify with. People want to know what we do and how we do it," Harvey said. "We can do government services very well, but business is another thing."

A management audit released earlier this year found the store's losses totaled $270,000 from 2003 to 2008, and was in effect being subsidized through surplus funds from a drunken driving educational program.

Noting that retailing is not part of a coroner's mission, Harvey said the department is open to expanding the operation but is awaiting a forthcoming fiscal review from the county controller-auditor to develop a plan.

At one point, the department contracted a company to market the items in Japan, but the project was dead soon after arrival — with little consumer interest, Harvey said. The department hasn't sought new ventures since.

Still, the marketing opportunity is clearly there, given the department's unrivaled profile in a largely unheralded field.

Over the decades, some of the world's most captivating morbid mysteries have played out under the prying scalpels of Los Angeles pathologists.

There are the deaths of the famous such as Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean; killings that led to charges against the famous such as O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake and Phil Spector; and the victims whose killers became famous such as the Menendez brothers, Charles Manson, and the victim herself, the Black Dahlia.

Numerous TV shows have added to the cachet, including the long-running 1976-83 drama "Quincy M.E.," in which Jack Klugman played a curmudgeonly crime-solving coroner, and the more recent documentary-style "North Mission Road," named for the department's street location.

"There's a definite interest in this," said Scott Michaels, who owns Dearly Departed Tours, which offers tours of LA's celebrated death landmarks. "Every other store along Hollywood Boulevard has LAPD and LAFD T-shirts. The LA coroner would be a natural."

The store has always been somewhat of a barebones operation. It evolved from a few coffee mugs and T-shirts the department had printed up to use as giveaways at conferences. Then people started requesting them and the department opened a small shop in a supply closet in 1993.

A following developed for the items that poke fun at death — there's nothing gory or bloody — and it landed in tourist guidebooks as a stop for unique souvenirs.

Tour buses stop there and tourists do seek it out. However, the shop's success has been limited by its location on the eastside of downtown Los Angeles amid a grimy strip of auto-glass businesses. The shop lacks a sign outside the coroner's office, a red-brick, century-old former hospital.

It makes for a lot of lonely hours for store manager Edna Pereyda, who had no customers during a recent visit.

The department has deliberately downplayed the store, mindful that most people who seek out the coroner's department are bereaved relatives. "They're really not in the mood for this stuff," Harvey said.

After a 2002 audit noted the store lost $100,000 in 2000-01, the department tightened up operations considerably with better inventory and cash controls, and limits on officials' using merchandise as gifts. The audit noted that officials gave away $2,600 worth of stuff over a four-month period.

In 2008, losses narrowed to about $55,000 on the $175,000 per year operation.

Marketing experts said the merchandise would likely be popular, although it could perhaps reinforce foreigners' perception of American cities as breeding-grounds for violence.

"It is part of the makeup of people's view of large cities in America," said Bill Baker, author of "Destination Branding for Small Cities." "But if this is more of a humorous thing, it could be a 'I survived it' sort of mentality. It'll possibly sell well."


18,800 Dead People Flown Out of Florida Last Year

Each day, about 15 dead people fly out of South Florida, taking a one-way trip in a cargo hold to their final resting place.

During the winter months, when snowbirds flock south, the number of decedents jetting home tends to increase.

In Palm Beach County, about 2,600 were flown home last year, more than any other county in the state. Broward was next with about 1,900 and then Miami-Dade, with about 1,250.

In all, about 18,800 dead people were flown out of Florida last year, with about a third taking off from one of South Florida's three major airports, according to Florida Department of Health records.

Grieving relatives, meanwhile, find last-minute airline tickets an expensive proposition. While some carriers still offer bereavement fares, overall, the airline industry has cut back on any kind of last-minute discounted seats.

"We tried everything, but we really had to pay to make an urgent flight," said Daniella Swanson, after her aunt died earlier this month. After checking with numerous airlines, Swanson and her brother paid a combined $535 to fly one way on Spirit from Chicago, their hometown, to Fort Lauderdale for the funeral. Her aunt, Susan Madori, a Broward School Board candidate this year, was cremated in South Florida and her ashes were to be shipped back to Chicago.

Bereavement fares tend to be steep because they usually allow flexibility in scheduling a return trip, and sometimes they far exceed full-price tickets.

For instance, to fly from Fort Lauderdale to New York on Delta Air Lines on a recent Tuesday, the bereavement fare was $829, which allowed for an open return trip within 60 days, with the provision that seats are available on the requested flight. Delta's regular fare on that day would have been $385 if purchased at the last minute. The same seat, purchased two weeks in advance, cost about $160.

"It's not meant to be a bargain," said Scott Nason, a Dallas-based aviation consultant, who added that most bereavement tickets cost about 35 percent less than full fare.

He said carriers can't afford to provide a "great deal" to the bereaved. "The airline has sold most of its inventory by then and is expecting to get top dollar for the remaining seats."

Most families make no attempt to fly on the same plane as their loved one, but rather seek the lowest price two or three days in advance of a flight. That means the relatives might arrive at the destination first, because a body must be prepared for shipment by a funeral home and then dropped off at an airline's cargo center.

Jewish people, whose religious customs call for burial within 48 hours, often find themselves scrambling to find an immediate flight. Their best options: Check online for the lowest available seats or plan to fly standby, travel experts say.

Most airlines require proof that someone has died before granting a bereavement fare, such as verification by a funeral home or even a death certificate.

But different airlines have different policies as to which family members are eligible. Some offer the fares only to immediate family; others, such as American, don't require a family connection.

"We're aren't real fussy about it being a specific type of family member," said Tim Smith, an American Airlines spokesman.

Aside from deaths, some carriers offer bereavement fares in emergency medical situations that require last-minute seats. Most low-fare airlines do not offer bereavement fares.

Because much of South Florida is transplanted from the Northeast or Midwest, the deceased most often fly to New York, Newark, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. With about 3.2 million residents over the age of 65, Florida is a popular place to die.

"Families want to be together in life, and there's no difference for them in death," said Keenan Knopke, president of the Florida Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, based in Tallahassee.

Sometimes, spouses will go to great lengths to make sure they remain near a departed partner, he said.

One woman moved from New York to Chicago and had her deceased husband's casket exhumed to be reburied near her new home. She later moved to Tampa and did the same thing. Then she moved to Los Angeles.

"She disinterred her husband for a third time and transported him to California," Knopke said. "She was in love with her husband and just wanted to be near him."

When it comes to flying the departed to their ultimate destination, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is one of the busiest in the world. Because of its central location and wide range of domestic flights, it handles most of those who die in South Florida.

Mark Telesca, funeral director in charge of Star of David Cemetery of the Palm Beaches, said the airlines generally charge $300 to $500, depending on the destination, to fly human remains in their cargo holds. The prices to Europe can be triple.

Most bodies are embalmed and placed in a casket, which is then placed in what's known as an air tray, or a special protective cover, required by the airlines.

If a casket isn't used, the remains can be placed in a "combination unit," a special container that acts like a casket. Or, in the case of Jewish people who opt not to be embalmed, bodies are placed in a pouch with a protective lining and gel packs, which act to keep the temperature down, Telesca said.

The airlines handle the remains as they would any other cargo, but are extremely discreet when placing them in cargo holds, said Mark Van Rees, funeral director for Fred Hunter's Funeral Homes. He said that most of the time people never even notice a casket being loaded onto a plane.

In most instances, funeral homes make the arrangements for a deceased person to be flown and then picked up at the destination airport by another funeral home.

Alan Nichamosf, 70, a Tamarac census worker, said that coordination made life easier when his father, Sidney, 95, died in Boston and had to be flown to New York in July.

"It was a very hectic time," Nichamosf said. "Dad flying to New York was the least of it.


Funeral Webcasting Goes International

A funeral home in a Brazilian city has begin to broadcast funerals live for the family members of the deceased who are living abroad, a media report said.

The Gonzaga funeral home, which is located in the interior of the state of Minas Gerais, now offers live transmission via the Internet of the Mass said for the deceased, the funeral procession and even the burial so that the 40,000 former residents of Governador Valadares who now live abroad can say their last goodbyes to their loved ones.

'We know that there exist funeral parlor chapels with cameras, but we're pioneers since we're offering a mobile service' covering events occurring outside the funeral home itself, funeral home director Eres Gonzaga told the daily O Globo.

Governador Valadares, which has 230,000 residents, is one of the cities in Brazil that has sent the greatest percentage of its residents to the US.


Historic Funeral Home Could be Demolished

A former funeral home in Lafayette known for a preserved corpse that was occasionally put on display could be demolished after a plan for apartments and condominiums fell through.

The 145-year-old Soller-Baker Funeral Home is in a National Register District but lacks a historic designation and is not protected from demolition.

Developer Harry Mohler obtained building permits for the project in 2005 but had to abandon the project because of financial problems.

The building has been vacant since 1996, and Soller-Baker Funeral Homes president Ron Diem says it's an eyesore.

"I'm sure there is mold inside. It is a health hazard and some of the windows are starting to fall out," Diem said.

Diem told the Journal & Courier he wants to save historic items from the funeral home.

The Queen Anne-style house has stood since 1865. The funeral home moved in in 1929.

Persus Newman of the Wabash Valley Trust for Historic Preservation board says the board hopes to come up with some options for the building.

"It is a travesty that this has happened," she said.

Trust member Gail Brock said the building lost its historical integrity when an addition was put on the side but says it's heartbreaking to think the building will be demolished.

"It could have been developed a different way," Brock said.

James Buell of Ameriana Bank, which owns the property, said no decision has been made about plans for the site.

City rules require a 60-day waiting period between approval of a demolition permit and the start of demolition to allow alternatives to be presented.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

War Hero Euthanized Accidentally

A county employee in Arizona has been fired after mistakenly euthanizing a dog that saved soldiers in Afghanistan and lived through explosions in the war-torn country, officials announced Friday.

The unidentified Pinal County animal control employee euthanized the female shepherd mix on Monday and was immediately placed on administrative leave.

The dog named Target had been brought to the Phoenix area in August by Sgt. Terry Young after his tour of duty.

Target frightened a suicide bomber inside a military base and potentially saved dozens of soldiers' lives, Young said. He said the dog was treated like royalty from then on at the base at Dand Patan, near the Pakistan border.

The dog escaped from the family's back yard last Friday. Target didn't have a tag or microchip and eventually wound up at the county pound.

Last Friday night, Young found Target's picture on a Web site used by county dog catchers to help owners track lost pets. Young figured the shelter in Casa Grande was closed for the night and weekend.

He showed up at the facility to claim his dog on Monday, only to find out she was dead.

County officials say the employee mistakenly took the dog out of its pen Monday morning and euthanized it.

"I just can't believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog," Young told The Arizona Republic, which said the soldier and his family will get Target's cremated remains.

County officials are declining to name the employee because of threats made to that person and angry telephone calls to the facility.

"We are continuing to look into management practices and procedures to ensure that something like this cannot happen again," said Lisa Garcia, assistant county manager for Health and Human Services.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Funeral Register Books

To be able to personalize a funeral service means everything to a family. They are celebrating the life of their loved one. To think that cookie cutter register books would be good enough, is old school thinking. Survivors are looking to embrace their loved ones unique personalities and show the world what made this person special.

The growing desire to truly personalize a funeral right down to the register books, affords deathcare professionals an opportunity to provide client families with the ultimate solution. Finding a software program that is easy to use, is affordable and can create professional, personalized funeral register books can mean the difference between a fantastic end result and another time consuming task to complete.

It's all about the options when personalization is the topic. Funeral register book software that provides hundreds of templates reflecting the interests and the distinctive aspects of a loved one's life makes personalizing funeral stationery easier. With this type of robust software, all the deathcare professional needs to do is to review the options with their client family and push a button. The templates are pre-formatted and pre-designed and the finished results are amazing.

Ease of Use
When selecting a register book software company consider the time and effort it takes to re-enter data. It's nothing more than a time consuming, senseless task. For a real easy solution, connection to funeral management systems is a must. There's no duplicate entry, no wasted time - just push a button and your done.

Having a large selection of funeral register books can be expensive when taking large amounts of inventory and stocking costs into consideration. Finding a provider that has software capable of printing on demand from stock paper, instead of pre-printed inventory can make a huge difference in the number of options that can be offered and the internal costs.

Be a leader in the industry. Offer the best funeral personalization options. Help your client families tell a life story with personalized register books.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tony Danza Yells at Priest During Funeral

Funerals are never easy for anyone, but on Nov. 11, Tony Danza was apparently very tense at the ceremony memorializing writer Philip Carlo. In the middle of the eulogy, a dissatisfied Danza allegedly flipped out on the priest at the Peter C. La Bella Funeral Home in Brooklyn, a witness told the New York Post.

"Tony, who was one of Carlo's closest friends, walked right up to the priest and said angrily, 'Excuse me, but this is not about you. It's supposed to be about my friend, and if you can't do that, maybe you should let someone else speak!'" the source claimed.

According to the report, the priest was a substitute from a federal prison and was visibly disturbed by Danza's outburst.

"People were stunned, while the priest was visibly shaken," the source said. "He tried talking about Carlo before quickly wrapping things up. Danza took over and eulogized Carlo with memories from their younger days."

Guests included big names like Mickey Rourke, Chuck Zito, Danny Aiello and John "Cha Cha" Ciarcia.

Carlo died of Lou Gehrig's disease on Nov. 8 at age 61. He was best known for his bestselling biographies of mobsters and killers, including Richard "The Night Stalker" Ramirez and Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Funeral Webcasting Could Have Done For My Family

Growing up as part of a large, tight knit family, we were always there for each of life's special occasions. Whether it was a birthday, a graduation, wedding, or funeral, the family came together to celebrate, reminisce and laugh. It's what got us through good times and bad.

As an adult, I find my family fractured. Not in a family fight or disturbing way, but just broken up over the shear distance we now live from each other. Gone are the weekends at the lake in Pennsylvania, the family reunions down the Jersey Shore and the convergence on a banquet facility for a special event.

The main interactions we have now are virtual. My close knit family is now my virtual one. The cousins with which I skipped rocks with on the lake, threw Frisbees with on the beach, and drank root beer straight from the keg and laughed and laughed and laughed again with -- are now avatars and text messages.

In many ways having a virtual family is definitely better than losing touch. I still see the pictures from birthday parties, new additions to the family tree and will occasionally be reminded of an adventure my cousins and I had during our youth. Our chats are sometimes reduced to 140 characters, but sometimes that's part of the fun.

Several years ago, when I heard my favorite Aunt had only hours to live, I booked a flight home. I didn't make it in time, but I was there with the rest of my family for her funeral and it was beautiful. The church was packed. My Uncle delivered her eulogy. There wasn't a dry eye in the building.

What was missing though, was my Father, her only brother. Having been ill for quite some time he didn't have the strength to attend. The flight home, the long drive to the country and the stress of the funeral would have been too much for him to bear. So, as we sat together as a family in a small country church in Northeastern Pennsylvania, my Dad sat at home in Florida -- alone with his memories of his sister.

Had funeral webcasting been available, my Dad would have been able to say good-bye. He would have been able to see our family together and had been a part of that special day. He would have loved the eulogy as it was filled with special memories and funny stories.

I think missing the funeral was something that weighed heavily on him. He often would say with regret that he wished he wasn't confined to the house and could have been there. I wished he had too. The family needed him and he needed us.

The best place on the web to learn more about funeral webcasting is Frazer Consultants. This company has a solid reputation of developing high performing and reliable technology for the deathcare industry. They also have a beautiful selection of funeral keepsakes and holiday remembrance ornaments.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rhode Island Buried Remains Without Permit

The license of a Woonsocket funeral home has been suspended after state officials said a body was cremated and the remains buried in a cemetery without a proper permit.

The state Department of Health says the funeral director, Todd Lauzon, acknowledged to the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers that he had not obtained a burial permit and buried the remains on his own without informing the cemetery.

Lauzon's license and that of the funeral home was suspended indefinitely.

Officials said Lauzon did produce a cremation order, but the niece of the man who died told investigators that her uncle never indicated he wanted to be cremated.

Lauzon did not immediately return a message seeking comment. He has the right to seek a hearing.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Church Shocked Over Fake Funeral

A Richmond church was shocked to learn that the subject of a funeral at its place of worship was in fact alive and well in Iowa.

Ron Chappell, pastor at New Life Ministries Church of the Nazarene, said he was contacted by a member of his congregation about the death of a girl in Iowa and her mother's wish to have a funeral service.

Chappell on Tuesday conducted a funeral for the 15-year-old girl, who her mother, Angela Boyd, claimed had been raped and murdered by her father in Iowa.

"She showed up with an urn and a box that was marked for donations to the Autism Society," Chappell said. "She came up and began to read from a handwritten statement, and it just tore us up. People were crying. Mothers were bawling. I was crushed."

After Boyd finished speaking, her brother, Brian LeMaster, walked to the podium and informed everyone that the girl was not dead.

LeMaster had heard about the funeral plans and contacted family and authorities in Iowa to check on the story.

"At first, I am thinking, 'That's right, she has gone to be with the Lord,'" Chappell said. "But then he says he has talked with (the girl's) grandmother and he talked with the police in Iowa and they validated that she is in a facility for children with disabilities and behavior problems and she is actually alive."

Chappell, who filed a report Thursday with Richmond police, said Boyd ran from the church and has not been seen since. He thinks she faked the girl's death and planned the funeral to get money.

Boyd is listed as the defendant in two felony theft cases in Wayne County Superior Court II. Both were scheduled to have change of plea and sentencing hearings Dec. 6.

In the end, she did not get any money from her effort.

"All the money we got Sunday from the offering for her we had kept to give her after the funeral, and she left the donation box," Chappell said. "The donation box is (in police evidence), so she didn't get any money out of it."

Chappell said that church members adjourned to eat the meal that members had prepared for the family, and while they were eating, LeMaster contacted the girl's grandmother and put her on speaker phone.

"If there is anything good to come out of this, it is that (the girl) is alive and everything is OK in Iowa," Chappell said. "But when the father heard about it, he was very upset."

Police are in the early stages of investigating the incident and are unsure what crimes might have been committed.

"It is not something you run into too often, and we just got the report, so we are starting to look at it and see what happened," Richmond Police Department Lt. Brad Berner said Thursday afternoon.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Personalized Candles - a Special Funeral Keepsake

Funeral keepsakes are an important part of the grieving process. They can provide comfort to family and friends following loss. When a loved one passes away it's natural to want a special memento to remember them. These precious and priceless reminders can include a variety of items from prayer cards, to bookmarks, holiday remembrance ornaments, and even personalized candles.

Candle mementos provide not only a cherished reminder of a beloved one after the memorial or funeral service but they can also be used during the service as well. Many find the soothing effect of seeing the candle burn a real comfort. In fact, a recent study concluded that over 40% of funeral homes use some sort of personalized candle at every service.

Frazer Consultants offers funeral homes the ability to create an endless possibility of personalized funeral keepsake candles. With the Life Journey Celebration Candle, the creation requires using nothing more than a computer, a standard ink-jet or laser printer and Frazer Consultants' robust software. Over 450 design themes are pre-programmed to allow funeral homes to create the most personalized mementos quickly and easily.

The flexibility of the four-sided funeral keepsake allows the funeral home to offer both themed candles as well as candles with one or four different photographs. They can be created also to include a special poem, bible text, and/or other sentimental text.

A funeral keepsake is a wonderful way to honor a loved one and to celebrate their life. The Life Journey Celebration Candle, is an ideal choice to provide family and friends with lasting memories of those that have departed.

Frazer Consultants primary products and services include interactive funeral home website design, funeral tribute video software, funeral webcasting, personalized funeral stationery, and funeral keepsakes including the award winning Life Journey Candle and Holiday Remembrance Ornaments. For more information, please call 866-372-9372.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Serial Killer Released from Prison to Attend Funeral

The state's worst serial killer should only ever be released again for his own funeral, the girlfriend of one of his victims says.

Seven-time killer Paul Steven Haigh was freed from jail yesterday under a heavily armed escort to attend his father's funeral. Haigh, 52, was taken from Port Phillip Prison to pay his respects in a 40-minute service at a funeral home in Richmond, Australia.

A woman whose boyfriend, Wayne Keith Smith, was murdered by Haigh in the 1970s said she understood there were reasons for his being freed but hoped there would be no repeat. The woman was carrying Smith's child when he was shot dead by Haigh in his bed in St Kilda.

"Hopefully, the next time he gets out it will be in a pine box,'' the woman said.

"I'm in two minds about this. Look, I suppose people should be allowed to go to a funeral like that, but part of me says 'stuff him'.''

Haigh's crimes sickened Victorians. Among the worst was his shooting of nine-year-old Danny Mitchell, gunned down because he had seen Haigh kill his mother Sheryle Gardner moments earlier at Ripponlea.

Other victims were:

TATTSLOTTO agency worker Evelyn Abrahams, 58, who was blasted to death with a shotgun during a robbery at Windsor.

PIZZA shop operator and father of two Bruno Cingolani, 45, who was shot in a hold-up at his South Caulfield business.

GIRLFRIEND Lisa Maude Brearley, 19, who was stabbed 157 times after he forced her at knife-point to have sex with another man at Olinda.

SEX offender Donald George Hatherley who was hanged in jail.

All apart from Hatherley died in a rampage between September 1978 and August 1979. Haigh is serving six life sentences in prison with no parole.

A Corrections Victoria spokesman said the escort went off without incident. "Highly trained, heavily armed guards escorted the prisoner to a short funeral service where there was a strong police presence, after which he was immediately returned to maximum security prison where he will spend the rest of his life,'' the spokesman said.

"Every application to attend a funeral is considered on its own merits and where there is a risk to the community the request is denied.''

Philip Carlo Dead at 61

Philip Carlo, who produced novels and nonfiction accounts of serial killers and hit men before writing about his own struggles with disease, died on Nov. 8 in Manhattan. He was 61.

The cause was a combination of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and cancer, said his wife, Laura Garofalo-Carlo.

A stay at Bellevue Hospital in the late 1970s inspired his first book, an unpublished novel about a murder on the wards. His second novel, “Stolen Flower,” about an American girl kidnapped by a child pornography ring in Pompeii, was published by Dutton in 1986.

Mr. Carlo soon branched into nonfiction, publishing four books based on interviews with mass murderers. Titles include “The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez,” about the serial killer who terrorized Los Angeles in 1984 and 1985 (Kensington, 1996); and “The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer,” about Richard Kuklinski, a mob hit man who claimed to have fed some of his victims to giant rats (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). A film adaptation of the book, starring Mickey Rourke, is planned for next year.

Philip John Carlo was born in Brooklyn on April 18, 1949. He struggled with dyslexia in school before graduating from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn. Mr. Carlo told The New York Times last year that his youth in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, a Mafia enclave at the time, gave him “a personal innate understanding” of crime and the mettle to confront it in his writing.

Mr. Carlo spent 60 days in Rikers Island himself for misdemeanor assault after a fistfight with a deliveryman who left menus in his building despite a no-menus sign. “It was a crazy, ridiculous incident,” he said.

Mr. Carlo learned he had A.L.S., an incurable illness that causes paralysis, in 2005. After the diagnosis, he completed four books with the help of an assistant, including “The Killer Within,” a memoir about his struggle against A.L.S. “I have a deadline,” he said. “My own death.”

A malignant brain tumor was discovered in October.

Mr. Carlo, whose first marriage, to Maria Cecilia Medeiros Lima, ended in divorce, married Ms. Garofalo-Carlo in 2007. Besides his wife, he is survived by his mother, Nina; his father, Dante; and a sister, Doreen Mannanice, all of Freeport, N.Y.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cremation Mix Up - Two Sets of Remains - One Name

A Lake County Chicago funeral director says his funeral home recently sent two bodies to a crematorium, but the two sets of ashes it got back were labeled with the same name.

Phillip Dane, the owner of the Burnett-Dane Funeral Home in Libertyville, told the Chicago Tribune that the employee sent the two human remains six days apart to the crematorium. When the ashes were returned, both sets had the same name on them.

Dane declined to comment on whether the remains have since been correctly identified.

Prosecutors at the Lake County State's Attorney's office would not comment Friday on whether the mix-up is being investigated for possible criminal wrongdoing.


Friday, November 5, 2010

My Father Was Unique, Shouldn't His Funeral Stationery Be Too?

Being raised in the Northeast as part of a large Irish family, the number of relatives I had always astounded my friends. By relatives, I don't just mean people that shared my last name or ones that could be plotted out on a family tree. I had a significant amount of closely related relatives. Here's what I mean, my Mother had one-hundred and thirteen first cousins. Her parents had many brothers and sisters. My Grandmother was one of thirteen and my Grandfather was one of seventeen. My sister and I, in comparison, only had a few first cousins, just eleven.

Overall, our family was huge but we were close, in proximity and in our personal relationships. My relatives held reunions almost yearly and there were several more times during the year we'd all gather, mainly for funerals.

Over the years I began to collect mementos, pieces of funeral stationery, from the funeral services, and there were many. My Grandparents', as well as their brothers and sisters were reaching their 80s. For what seemed like my entire teenage years, my family seemed to be gathering for nothing but wakes.

Now, as an adult, I have this collection of funeral stationery --basically, a box of family history. From prayer cards to memorial folders and bookmarks, I have it all. But, what's odd is how much of it looks alike. Sorting through the box recently, I noticed three or four common themes, obviously preprinted, stock paper with a relatives name, birth date, death date, a verse and sometimes the date of the service. These printed pieces of stationery are not personal, they are cookie-cutter designs.

My own Father's prayer card is among the stack. In 2008, when our funeral director showed us the selection of funeral stationery, my Mother, sister and I, truthfully weren't thrilled at the selection, but what could we do? We had to have them, so we selected a version with seagulls on the front with the words, "Going Home..." It wasn't because of my Dad's fondness for birds, the ocean, or because he considered dying, "Going Home". It was basically the best of the worst, although we wouldn't admit it at the time. Had our funeral director given us a larger choice of themes, this one wouldn't have been looked at twice.

What would my Dad have wanted? Truthfully, he probably wouldn't have cared. But, my Mother, sister and I cared and wanted to have the most personal funeral and mementos possible. We wanted to celebrate his life. He was unique, he had special interests like coins and history, golf and amateur radio. If only our funeral director had something more personal, my Father's prayer card wouldn't be just another piece of paper in the stack.

Frazer Consultants offers a complete, fast and easy solution to personalized stationery. With access to over 450 predesigned and preformatted design layouts, Frazer offers a high level of personalization to funeral home client families'. Templates for virtually every interest, hobby, occupation, and religious background are included in the Tribute Center software. To discover the most professional, low cost, and fully customized funeral printing available, please call 866-372-9372.