Sunday, January 15, 2012

Eternal Image Launches Line of University Cremation Urns

Eternal Image, Inc. (the "Company") (otc pink:ETNL), a public company engaged in the design, manufacturing and marketing of officially licensed, Brand-name memorial products, today announced that it has launched its first line of official university urns for several popular schools under its agreement with the Collegiate Licensing Company.

"Our university urn is a fitting tribute to those treasured college days and a school spirit that never fades," said Nick Popravsky, VP of Sales & Marketing for the Company. "Presently we have urns for eight schools available and anticipate adding more schools soon, so check our website regularly for more information."

The Company's university urns are made of solid cherry wood and are manufactured entirely within the United States. They display the school logo and school name on the front, and feature Greek-inspired columns in each corner.

A photo of the University of Missouri urn is available at . For additional photos of Eternal Image's complete line of university urns, visit the Company's Facebook page or follow this link:

In addition to urns, the Company also offers headstone engravings for each of the schools in its portfolio. Please call Eternal Image directly for ordering information: 866-622-7538.

About Eternal Image

Eternal Image, incorporated in 2006, is headquartered in Farmington Hills, MI. The Company is the first and primary manufacturer of licensed, Brand-name memorial products such as urns, caskets, vaults, headstones, various memorial gift items, and stationery. Currently, the Company offers products for sale under licenses from Major League Baseball(TM), STAR TREK(R), Precious Moments(TM), Sandra Kuck, the Vatican Observatory Foundation(TM), KISS(TM), the Collegiate Licensing Company(TM), the American Kennel Club, and the Cat Fanciers' Association(TM). Eternal Image also has a division called New World Gift Company. New World manages the design, manufacturing, and marketing of memorial gift items and stationery.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Going Green When it's Your Time to Go

Burial and cremation are the most common ways we dispose of the dead, but while these methods are steeped in tradition, they’re far from environmentally friendly. Embalming bodies requires cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde and phenol — in fact, every year in the U.S. we bury 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid. Plus, caskets are often made from mined metals, toxic plastic or endangered wood. U.S. cemeteries use 30 million board feet of hardwoods, 180,544,000 pounds of steel and 5,400,000 pounds of copper and bronze annually. Casket burials also prevent a corpse from decomposing efficiently, and this slow rotting process favors sulfur-loving bacteria, which can harm nearby water sources.

Cremation may seem like a greener alternative, but the process requires a lot of energy and creates air pollution. While new burners and filters have made cremation more efficient and less-polluting, crematoriums still release chemicals like dioxin, carbon dioxide and mercury into the atmosphere, and the energy used to cremate one body is equivalent to driving 4,800 miles. Not only is greening your burial good for the planet, but it's also easy on the wallet. The average funeral costs $6,000, but you can cut back on a lot of funeral expenses and save serious green if you opt for some of these eco-friendly choices. So if you want to be as green in death as you are in life, check out these eco-friendly burial options. Natural burials Interring a body in earth in a manner that allows it to decompose naturally is perhaps the greenest option available, and so-called green burials are gaining popularity. According to the Green Burial Council, there are more than 300 approved eco-friendly burial providers in the U.S. today - there were only a dozen in 2008. And a 2020 survey commissioned by the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association found that a quarter of those polled liked the idea of a natural burial. People who choose green burials don't use vaults, traditional coffins or any chemicals. Instead, they are wrapped in biodegradable shrouds or placed in pine coffins and laid to rest where they can decompose and become part of the earth. Often, bodies are buried in graves that are just 3 feet deep to aid decomposition. Natural burial grounds that prohibit chemicals and nonbiodegradable materials are located throughout the U.S., but there are also hybrid cemeteries that offer both traditional gravesites and green ones. Eco-coffins Natural burial in a biodegradable coffin reduces carbon emissions by 50 percent compared with traditional burials, according to the Natural Death Centre. There are a variety of options out there when it comes to eco-friendly coffins, and these final resting places are made from a variety of materials, including paper, formaldehyde-free plywood, fair trade-certified bamboo and hand-woven willow. Ecoffins offers several woven and fair trade coffins, and Ecopod is known for its innovative designs, which are made from recycled newspapers and come in a variety of colors and designs. If you can ensure that the coffin isn't transported too far from the place of manufacture, that helps, too. Looking for a multifunctional coffin you can also enjoy in life? Check out William Warren's "Shelves for Life." Instead of buying a brand new coffin, this unique shelving system allows you to store books and tsochkes during life - and your body after death. The shelves can be easily transformed into a coffin when the time comes, which really makes it shelving to die for.

If you insist upon being cremated, there are even ways you can green this process. One option is "resomation," which mimics the natural process of decomposition - but on fast-forward. It involves disposing of human remains through alkaline hydrolysis: The body is sealed inside a tube filled with water and lye and steam-heated to 300 degrees for three hours. When the process is complete, all that remains of the corpse are some powdery bone fragments and about 200 gallons of fluid. Unlike the traditional cremation process, resomation doesn't release chemicals into the air, and it utilizes 80 percent less energy than standard cremation.

What do you do with that liquefied human body? Well, you could use it to help feed living humans. The fluid makes a great fertilizer - if you're comfortable eating from a garden fertilized by corpse juice. If you'd prefer to be a little less green and be cremated in the traditional sense of the word, you can always make an environmentally conscious urn choice. Select a wooden urn made from sustainable sources, or opt for the Bios Urn, a biodegradable urn made from coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose that contains the seed of a tree. Once remains have been placed in the urn, it can be planted and the seed germinates and begins to grow, giving new meaning to "life after death." You can even select the kind of tree you want to be. Composted corpse
While you can't just toss a human body into the backyard compost pile, there is one interesting option. A Swedish company called Promessa has developed a way to turn a corpse into compost material in just six to 12 months. Here's how it works: A corpse is frozen and then submerged in liquid nitrogen. The brittle body is then bombarded with sound waves, which break it down into a fine white powder. Finally, this powder is sent through a vacuum chamber, which evaporates all the water. The remaining powder is nutritious and quite fertile, making it perfect for planting a tree, shrub or garden. Other green options
If you want to make your funeral as eco-friendly as possible, here are some other ways you can ensure a sustainable farewell.

Eco-invites: Friends and family can sprout new life in your memory with Remembrance Tree Papers. This eco-friendly paper is chlorine-free and embedded with wildflower seeds that can be planted directly in the ground. The paper can be used for funeral invitations, memorial bookmarks or thank-you notes.

Flowers: Request that floral tributes not be bound with plastic-covered wire - opt for raffia instead. And avoid flowers that come in polystyrene foam, which doesn't biodegrade.

Transportation: Avoid gas-guzzling limos and encourage funeral guests to carpool to the burial site. Perhaps you can even skip the hearse altogether - a funeral home in Eugene, Ore., is going the extra carbon-free mile by offering a bicycle hearse.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Money For Auld Sod: Us Man Wants Irish Soil Under House

A CORK native in the US is planning to buy $148,000 (€111,200) worth of the "auld sod" so that he can retire there with a piece of Ireland under his feet.

The Irish earth is being sent to America by the same company which supplied the flowers in the bowl of shamrock presented to George Bush by the Taoiseach yesterday.

The Auld Sod Export Company, which has its base in Crookstown, Co Cork, has been exporting soil and shamrock seed to the United States for the past four months after its founders Pat Burke, from Tipperary, and Alan Jenkins, from Lisburn, came up with a way to process Irish soil so that it can pass strict US restrictions.

Since then they claim to have exported over two million dollars (€1.5m) worth of Irish soil.

One of their biggest orders to date has come from a Cork native who wants to secure seven tonnes of soil. He wants to sprinkle it under the foundations of his 5,350 square foot house in Massachusetts. A 6 to 8in layer will be spread on the property’s sub floor.

Pat Burke said the man, who is in his 60s and remains anonymous for now, wants to retire with a piece of Ireland under his feet.

The two founders went over to America to view the new modular style of houses as they are built.

While the company has only been in business for a few months, the two founders are already embarking on a €1.5m re-investment which they hope will make their product more attractive to a number of American companies with whom they are currently in negotiations to stock the soil all year round.

In addition, they are designing a gift box containing shamrock, soil and a glass bowl. They are also embarking on a home-grown venture which would see American tourists able to buy the soil here. It would be certified, so that tourists would have no trouble getting it through customs.

Once St Patrick’s Day is out of the way, the two men will turn their sights to China.

They already have interest from six Chinese retailers they met when they attended a Dublin trade show. Pat said the Chinese put a lot of stock in the luck of the Irish and they are to start negotiations to sell it to the massive Asian market.

Read more:


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Company Eases Loss Of Family Pets

A business that helps individuals and families deal with the death of a pet has opened in Lafayette.

Pets Remembered Cremation Services is associated with the Hippensteel Family of Services.

"We created Pets Remembered so families who have experienced the death of a pet can honor them and their importance as a family member," said general manager Scott Pridemore.

"We provide our services to help families say goodbye respectfully."


Remembrance products include numerous urns, personalized art, keepsakes and remembrance jewelry. A display of items is available at Pets Remembered.

The business also offers burial of cremated remains and stone markers in the Pets Remembered Memorial Garden at Spring Vale Cemetery in Lafayette.

"Families can choose from a variety of ways to remember their pets," Pridemore said. "To further honor the pets we care for, we make a donation in the name of each pet to the Purdue Veterinary Teaching Hospital."


Pets Remembered Cremation Services is at 1608 Schuyler Ave. in Lafayette. It serves Tippecanoe and surrounding counties.

The business is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is available 24 hours a day by calling (765) 742-0396.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mortician Changes With Times

At 18, Greg Miller was working at Schneider and Sullivan Funeral Home in San Mateo while attending San Francisco State University. He answered calls at night until one day the funeral director asked him to drive the limousine during services. Working in a funeral home, he fast realized that people who are grieving simply need someone who cares.

"At a young age, I thought, this is a great job: Someone is going to pay me to be nice to other human beings," Miller said. Clean-shaven, Miller smells like peppermints and his pocket kerchief matches his gold tie.

It took Miller seven years working at the funeral home in San Mateo, a stint selling insurance, another job changing tires and then serving in the Vietnam War to realize running a funeral home was his calling. He returned to mortuary school to receive his embalmer's license. Then he took over the funeral home on Kelly Avenue. Miller and his brother Chris have run Miller-Dutra Coastside Chapel for the past 30 years.

"When you go tell your family you want to be a funeral director it's not like they jump up and down," he said. Miller takes tremendous pride in what he does but freely admits he "doesn't do hair very well."

As the years passed, Miller had a unique vantage point at the community funeral home and he's seen Coastsiders during their most trying times. The Miller brothers sat down with the Review's Lily Bixler and Greg Miller described the day-to-day logistics of being a funeral home director, how the industry has evolved and America's relationship with death.

What would you say is the hardest part of the job?

When I began, I think it was taking care of children after they died. Then I began to understand that folks that have been together - husbands and wives - for 50 or 60 years, their grief was similar to a parent who'd lost young children.

Also, I've been in this town 30 years, so one of the hardest parts is I know so many people and consider them friends, and it's becoming harder and harder when their relatives die or some of them die. It's just hard. I'm just like anybody else. If I had the power, nothing would happen to any of these people and they'd live until they were very old.

I went back to college and took classes on gerontology and death and dying to try to help me understand what people were really going though. I feel that I was doing really well sitting down with families, but there comes a time when you realize someone has probably studied the effect of grief. So I looked into it to find out what I should really be doing to help people. I knew I was coming from a place of caring, but what I didn't want to do was tell people something that made sense to me but really wasn't right. So I went back to school and that worked out really well.

And how do you emotionally handle being around so much death?

I think for me some of it is a faith issue. It's the idea that, hopefully, there is something better than this waiting for all of us. Our mother died when she was relatively young -she probably died when she was around my age and I'm in my 60s. I think what you learn is that people who have some kind of an idea, rather than having no hope for anything, (do better with death). One of the saddest funerals I ever had was some folks who really thought this person's death was the end, the absolute end. Everything that was said at this person's funeral was negative because no one could understand why. It was so sad to be there and listen to them, and there was no hope. It was like, "Wow, this person died too young."

Do you feel at the end of the day, you have to unwind and process what you've experienced during the day or is it all engrained in your lifestyle?

One of the things that's oftentimes helpful are the families themselves. It's a sad time for people, but it's not a time when they've lost hope. They have their own beliefs - they are often the ones that are helping me feel OK.

Do you find that most of the people you work with believe in some kind of afterlife?

Yes, they do. They have some kind of faith in something. I don't think they see death as just the end.

How has the business changed over the years?

I think at one point people really had no idea that they could come to the funeral home and ask the funeral director's help in what kind of service they will have. What would you suggest or what does someone with my faith usually do?

That's why I went back to school, so I could get people to tell me what they want. It's like you can take a funeral and make it relative to the person who's dying, but the truth is that the healing that's supposed to be going on is for the family and the friends. That's one of the things that's changed: We have more families who choose cremation as a final disposition, rather than burial. I'd say it's now probably half and half.

And how much cremation did you handle in the past?

Very little. When I was starting and before that, hardly anyone was cremated. It just wasn't done. Funeral directors have always offered that as a disposition, but people just didn't do that.

Do you have any sense of what happened over the last 20 or 30 years that's led to more cremations?

More and more people decided that was a disposition they'd like to take, and I think as more people are comfortable with that, more and more people join. I'm sure that's the way it was before with having a funeral - that's what they were comfortable with and so that's what they did. Now people are very comfortable with cremation.

I think we're much more aware now of what people are going through and we understand more of the things we can do for them.

The idea is to make a person look as much like the family remembered them, right?

A lot of times people say, "Mom looked so terrible in the hospital, so we just want the casket to be closed." I try to go along with that and not force anything on people. But the reality is, oftentimes, for the families who've allowed us to go in and fix up their relative, it's so comforting to them to see the relative because, you know, they don't look like they did in the hospital.

Do you usually work on people immediately after they pass?

In the old days we used to do that. As soon as we picked someone up, we'd start taking care of them. We thought the results would be much, much better. But for years now there's been a law where we can't embalm without permission. Before, we could just do it. We didn't' necessarily charge people if they didn't want it, but we just did it because we could. We thought the results would be much better that way.

When you're dealing with families that have never experienced death before, how do you help them through the process?

You want to make them comfortable so they'll be able to talk to you, and you want to let them know that you're here to help them. You sort of feel them out to see what it is they want and if they don't know you give them all the choices they have ... it's OK to do whatever they want to do. My brother and I have always approached this like there's nothing that we won't do for you. We never want to tell people no.

Do you think America's relationship with death is healthy? Has it changed over the years?

I think there are some ethnic groups that do really, really well with death because they involve their children from an early age, so they get to know that this is just a part of life and some day they are going to die. I'd say most people seem to be able to deal with it and have a healthy enough attitude. There are going to be people who don't and you wish there was something that could be done for them.

(America's relationship with death) has certainly changed. When I first started 37 years ago, people dealt with death by having more funerals. Then the cremation societies came into existence and basically their approach was funerals aren't fun, they aren't enjoyable, so why do it? Have your loved one cremated. For people who have a hard time at funerals, that was kind of a nice, easy way of dealing with it. Then, after a while, the same cremation societies realized it wasn't good to be telling people not to do it. Because it's not fun wasn't a good approach. They needed something to memorialize their loved one.

I think it's better now because most people find some need to memorialize and have a service and recognize that someone's dead. There are still some people that choose not to do that and it's fine.

How would you categorize the importance of memorializing? It's kind of this ancient thing that people have been doing for so long, and sometimes with traditions we do things without thinking of the importance.

In the old days, funerals were (standard) - we're going to take care of your mom, we're going to embalm her, dress her, do her hair and put her in a casket. Then the minister is going to come and do something and then we'll go the cemetery. Now people understand there's so much more they can do. Let's say we're having a cremation first and then having a memorial service. Now it's like, where are we going to do this? I went to a memorial service for a friend of mine and it was in her home. People brought food to share. People shared stories. There were lots of pictures and albums out, so you could see this person's life. So you could start to get a sense of what's available.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Coroner: Unclaimed Bodies Costing Taxpayers Thousands

The Benton County coroner says there's been an increase in the number of people who die and whose bodies are never claimed by families, even when families live nearby.

Coroner John Hansens told KEPR-TV families who refuse to pay stick the county with a $500 bill for cremation.

Hansens says he has sympathy for indigent families in hard times, but to protect taxpayers he'll have to start taking the families to small claims court.

"That's not what we want to do, but we also have to protect the taxpayers who can end up fitting the bill," Hansens tells KEPR.

Inside an unassuming closet, there are dozens of people who died and were never claimed by a loved one.

"We're walking a fine line helping people through tough times, but actually helping people that pay the bills," says Coroner John Hansens.

Benton County's coroner says no one has been taken to small claims court yet. But if more poor souls are buried under the county's dime, the ending could be unhappy for everyone.

Coroner John Hansens tells us the bad economy is the main reason why fewer people are willing to pay for their loved one's burial.


Monday, January 9, 2012

South Korean Police Arrest 6 Crematory Workers Suspecting Of Stealing Gold Teeth From Dead

South Korean police say they have arrested six crematory workers on suspicion of stealing and selling melted gold teeth from cremated bodies.

Police said in a statement Thursday that workers at five crematoriums were suspected of collecting melted gold teeth from the bottom of cremation braziers to sell.

The statement says one worker pocketed about 20 million won ($17,730) from the gold sales.

Police say one jewelry shop owner and two professional gold buyers have been arrested for allegedly buying the stolen gold teeth.

Police say they will expand their investigation into crematoriums across the country.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Engineering College Built on Cremation Ground

Close on the heels of Puri Swargadwar land scam, a private engineering college in the district has been accused of encroaching upon a portion of a cremation land.

It is alleged that the managing committee of Barapada School of Engineering and Technology (BSET) forcibly occupied nearly 5.12 acres of plot no. 2726 in Kusunanagar area and constructed its academic building, a hostel for girls and a cycle stand on the plot.

Incidentally, the constructions were made in 2004 when Tourism, Culture and Co-operation Minister Prafulla Samal was chairman of the college managing committee.

This is despite the Industrial Development Corporation providing nearly 40 acres to the college.

Besides, the college authorities have also built a market complex on a portion of the illegally acquired land brushing aside stiff opposition from the people of Barapada panchayat.

Meanwhile, the locals urged the district administration to free the land of the encroachment as it was used for funeral rites by at least 12 villages.

District Congress Committee president Badrinarayan Dhal said Samal who was the chairperson for nearly two decades had misused his power to encroach on the public land. He further alleged that the managing committee also mortgaged the land for a loan for construction.

The present chairman and Samal’s son Prayaskanti Samal said the land was acquired without his father’s knowledge.

“We came to know about it when the Revenue Department served a notice in 2007 stating that the land was acquired illegally. Thereafter, we requested that the land be leased out to the institution and accordingly deposited the requisite fees,” he said.

Prayaskanti clarified that no loan had been obtained against the land and the academic building and the hostel were built with the funds of the institution.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Smart Cremation Co-Founders Cut Costs by Allowing People to Make Arrangements Online If They Choose

It’s true that death is almost the only certainty in life, but that doesn’t mean a business based on it will inevitably be a success.

After starting their company in the depths of the financial crisis, Smart Cremation’s founders learned that lesson the tough way — making mistakes, dusting themselves off and trying again.

Now the Redmond-based company has about 50 employees, locations in four states and is on track to exceed its 2010 revenue of about $15 million.

Chief executive and co-founder Jerry Norman said the company, which cremates and transports the remains of recently deceased persons, has thrived ...


Friday, January 6, 2012

Crematorium Wants to Use Burning Bodies to Generate Electricity

Ashes to generate power?

A crematorium in the United Kingdom is planning on installing turbines on its furnaces, which are used to cremate human bodies, and would use the heat generated during the cremation process to provide the same amount of electricity as would power 1,500 televisions.

A third burner is to be used to provide heating for the site's chapel and its offices.

Alan José, the crematorium's superintendent and registrar, told the UK Telegraph, "We calculate that we will have far more electricity than we can possibly need so we would be feeding a reasonable amount into the grid."

"If there is genuine spare capacity to generate electricity then we are certainly interested in investigating that. And if it was thought to be acceptable in the eyes of the public we would almost certainly pursue that.

"Apart from it being common sense for us to try to conserve energy, it also enables us to keep the fees down."

According to the Telegraph, many crematoria are currently replacing their furnaces, to meet government targets on preventing mercury emissions from escaping into the atmosphere.

Up to 16 per cent of all mercury emitted in the UK comes from crematoria because of fillings in teeth. Left unchecked, that figure is predicted to rise to 25 per cent by 2020.

Dr John Troyer, from Bath University's Centre for Death and Society (CDAS), said such schemes were likely to increase, but only gradually.

"Conceptually and theoretical it is absolutely possible," he told the paper. "But when you are talking about how to handle dead bodies, you need to take time and move slowly, to avoid sounding too glib, insensitive or utilitarian."

What do you think of the plan to generate energy from burning bodies? Is this something you see coming to the United States? Or would you see this as desecrating the corpse?


Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Grave Situation for Dry Creek Cemetery in Boise

As legend has it, Dry Creek Cemetery in the Foothills northwest of Boise was established more than 140 years ago, when an Oregon Trail pioneer family lost a child and buried her there on the hillside.

That story is not documented, but there is no doubt Dry Creek is one of the oldest cemeteries in the Valley, with an inspiring vista that stretches from Caldwell to Bronco Stadium.

But these days, the venerable cemetery is struggling to stay solvent, said Danny Seamons, head of the board of directors.

He blames a societal shift to cremation. More than half of the families who patronize the cemetery now opt for cremation over casket burials, he said.

That’s a national trend. In 2000, about 26 percent of Americans chose cremation, according to the Cremation Association of North America. Today, 41 percent of Americans do. And by 2025, the group estimates nearly 60 percent of Americans will be cremated when they die.

While the Valley’s population is increasing, the number of traditional burials at Dry Creek has fallen to 1980s levels, Seamons said.

The cemetery offers interment for both caskets and urns with cremated remains, known as cremains. But a marked plot for cremains brings in about a third of the revenue of a traditional casket plot with a monument — $300 versus $1,000.

Of course, an unknown number of families are circumventing cemeteries altogether by keeping loved ones’ ashes or scattering them privately.


Ada County owns Dry Creek Cemetery, which became its own taxing district in 1936. The cemetery gets 33 percent of its income from taxes on property owners who live in the district and relies on plot sales to make up the rest of its annual $465,000 costs. Revenue is falling each month.

“We’re OK for now, but our reserves are going,” said Seamons.

The cemetery laid off two of its six full-time employees this fall, and more cuts may be coming. Full-time staffers may be cut to part time. Selling Dry Creek to a national burial company is another option if help doesn’t arrive, Seamons said. The cemetery has received purchase offers in the past.

He hopes the plight of the cemetery — home to graves of pioneers, Civil War dead and others — is important enough to the community that people will want to help. One man left property to Dry Creek in his will.

“We sold that land and had a CD that helped support us for years. Unfortunately, that’s all gone now,” said Seamons.

Getting voters to approve a tax levy is another possibility.

“I only pay about $12 a year for the cemetery district. A small increase would be enough to keep us going,” said Seamons.


Cremation rates vary across the Valley. They’re lower than Dry Creek’s at Pioneer and Morris Hill, two cemeteries owned by the city of Boise.

Despite the cost — plots with standing monuments in Pioneer run $2,000, $1,400 in Morris Hill — 63 percent of customers still choose a casket burial, said Ken Reeves, Boise Parks Division manager. Revenue so far hasn’t suffered from the cremation trend, he said.

He credits designated sections at Morris Hill for Catholics, Jews and Muslims — all religions that traditionally discourage cremation — as a possible reason that the number of casket burials remain high.

Cremations at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery are even higher than at Dry Creek. More than 65 percent of families opt for cremation.

That cemetery doesn’t face the financial challenges Dry Creek faces, said Director Zach Rodriguez. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reimburses the cemetery $700 for each veteran buried there, whether he or she has a traditional casket burial or is cremated with ashes placed in the cemetery’s columbarium wall — the vertical structure that houses scores of urns in separate compartments.

“A lot of national veterans’ cemeteries are following the cremation trend because they’re running out of land,” said Rodriguez.

Some, he said, offer cremation as their only option.


Seamons, an Idaho native, spent his youth making regular pilgrimages to the graves of relatives buried in eastern Idaho. It’s a comfort to him. He doesn’t understand why so many people feel otherwise.

“I know where every aunt, uncle, everyone is buried,” said Seamons.

He does acknowledge that families, just like cemeteries, are struggling and often have to go with less-expensive options.

Modern families also tend to spread out across the country and don’t have the ties he has to his home state.

“With 136 acres, we have space to bury people for another 100 years. Maybe 200,” said Seamons. “I don’t want this thing to go belly up on my watch.”


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cremated Bodies Left Behind At Abandoned Funeral Home

An unlicensed Hazelwood undertaker who skipped town two years ago left behind unpaid debts, frustrated next of kin and, authorities discovered on Friday, cremated bodies and animal remains.

Pittsburgh police and investigators with the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Officer removed 19 containers of cremated human remains and 30 animal remains from the abandoned Sauvageot Funeral Home on Hazelwood Avenue.

The director, Mark V. Sauvageot, lost his license because a state inspector found a woman's remains in the early stages of decomposition in his garage in 2009. Shortly after that, he moved out, according to other funeral directors in the neighborhood.

"There was a big moving van in front of the house in the afternoon and evening, and in the morning he was gone along with it," said David O'Connor, of John D. O'Connor & Son Funeral Home on Second Avenue, who hasn't seen Sauvageot since. "Nothing is being done to him for what he's done to these poor people."

Police said Sauvageot was not at the funeral home when they searched it. A man told police on Thursday that he never received his mother's cremated remains from Sauvageot, prompting the search. Seventeen of the 19 human remains were identified, a medical examiner's spokesman said. The office plans to release the identities of the deceased next week.

"I'm glad there's closure for these families now," said John Bauer, director of nearby Herman Funeral Home.

Sauvageot could not be reached. Court and Pennsylvania Department of State records show that he failed to appear at numerous hearings since 2009.

State regulators suspended his license in January 2009 and fined him $3,000 when they learned he refused to release remains to a family in an effort to extract payment, records show.

It was a familiar story to Patricia Fox, 68, of the North Side.

Fox sued Sauvageot in 2008 to try to get back about $2,000 he made her pay to return her son's body. Fox's son died in a hospice and she saw a flier for Sauvageot's funeral home, so she said he could take the body. That was until she visited the home and saw the sign out front for pet cremation and the bags of cremated remains scattered about inside.

"I said, 'Oh no, we're taking him out of here,' " Fox said. "I didn't want to have my son cremated there because I didn't know what I would get back. Especially after I went in there and saw how messy it was."

Sauvageot never appeared before the magistrate for Fox's lawsuit. Nor did he pay the $3,000 fine he owes the state, records show.

Sauvageot bought the funeral home a little more than 20 years ago, and it just "slowly went downhill," O'Connor said.

After his license was suspended, Sauvageot tried to bury the body of Helen Miller at Homewood Cemetery in April 2009, but the cemetery refused because Sauvageot did not have a signed death certificate, according to State Department records connected to the revocation of his license.

The body was returned to his funeral home, where a state investigator found it in June 2009. The investigator also reported finding fleas, animal feces, bags of trash and three coffins in the garage of the home. Sauvageot "began to cry" and admitted he had Miller's body in one of the coffins and said the other two contained the remains of his dogs, the record states.

"This affects everybody in the business," O'Connor said. "We've had some good funeral directors in Hazelwood, and this just makes you wonder about everybody."

Since Sauvageot left, Herman Funeral Home has received calls from anxious relatives and pet owners trying to track down remains. The home has worked to provide funeral services for families that pre-arranged with Sauvageot, he said.

"We had a lot of people coming that were very despondent," Bauer said. "They would show up at the front door very emotional. He literally just left town. We were the bearers of bad news."

Read more: Cremated bodies left behind at abandoned funeral home - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Offbeat Occupation: Funeral Director Is Always On Call

Mike Doering thinks about death a lot. A placid and professional man, Doering is not morbid. He is practical. He thinks of death in the same way a police officer ponders crime or an accountant considers numbers.

Doering thinks of death because his job is death.

Doering is funeral director for Lawrence Chapel Oaks Funeral and Cremation Services. And when the company phone rings, it is usually because someone has died.

“This is what I wanted to do,” Doering says. “I enjoy all aspects of the funeral service. I enjoy meeting new people and making their loved ones appear the best they can under the circumstances. It gives me a good feeling.”

The phone can ring at any time, night or day, as death is not relegated to business hours. It strikes when it wants, and when it does, Doering is ready to spring into motion so that the rituals can occur seamlessly.

“The phone is never not answered,” Doering says. “A standard day with no services and no funerals, I get here at 8 a.m. ... (But) I’m on call 24 hours a day.”

If, say, several deaths occur at the same time, Doering will work long hours without a break. He once worked 38 hours straight.

Whenever someone dies, Doering must complete a cascade of tasks before burial, from body retrieval to cremation.

“I do the embalming, run the crematory, dressing, casketing — the only thing I don’t do is lady’s hairdressing,” says Doering.

When Doering hears of a death, the first thing he does is retrieve the body. He brings the cadaver to the funeral home.

Then, if the family wants a traditional funeral service, he does the embalming, which involves draining its fluids to replace them with embalming chemicals.

Doering isn’t squeamish. He feels rooted and stable throughout the process.

“I just do it,” he says. “This is what I do. I can’t fix a car. I can’t fix a computer. This is what I do. The only trouble I have is with children.”

Doering’s interest in mortuary science began during high school while on a school-sponsored field trip to a funeral home. He can’t recall specifics, just that the trip convinced him to study the profession in college. He has been in the business for more than 20 years. Doering has watched burial practices evolve and change. One trend he’s seen emerge is the personalization of the funeral. Since the 1980s, more people have requested video tributes, crafted slideshows and played music that reflects the attitude and the life of the deceased.

“People were tired of the cookie-cutter funeral with a minister that would come in say a few words, open his book and say ‘insert name here,’” Doering says. “They wanted more talking about the individual and a celebration of life.”

Doering has also watched cremation rates rise rapidly. Currently 34 percent of deaths are cremations, up from 14 percent in 1985. And that percentage is projected to climb to 44 by 2015, according to the Cremation Association of North America.

Doering will watch that rate closely, as he has no intention of ever changing careers. He loves his job. But because he has been a funeral director for so long, and because so many people die daily, Doering devotes special energy and attention to his interactions with the deceased’s family members.

“You want to make sure that … even though you’re dealing with (several) families, each (one) has your undivided attention,” Doering says. “You don’t want to slight or make them feel slighted in any way. This is their funeral; it’s not my funeral. There is an old saying: ‘We do funerals every day. The families we serve don’t.’ I have to remind myself of that.”

And if there’s one thing Doering’s job has taught him, it’s that death does not discriminate.

“There are no guarantees,” Doering says. “Age, color, creed: death is the only certainty in this life. And it’s cruel sometimes.”


Monday, January 2, 2012

Tech After Death

Dead People Power

A UK Crematorium has plans to go green – by harnessing the heat generated from cremations for power. The power would be generated using turbines, which could produce more than enough electricity to power and heat the building, and any excess energy could be sold to the UK’s National Grid.

Technology Claims Another Victim: The Autopsy

Increasingly, CT and MRI scans are being used in lieu of the autopsy. However, results differ between traditional autopsies and imaging technologies. CT and MRI scans do lower costs, save time, and preserve results, and are therefore likely to continue their use as both a complementary method to the autopsy and as a replacement, unless the cause of death cannot be determined any other way.

Environmentalism After Death

For all the die-hard environmentalists out there, “Bio Cremation” offers a final chance to do something good for the environment. The Scottish firm Resomation has installed its first commercial body dissolving unit at a Florida funeral home. These units cut greenhouse emissions by a third and use only one-seventh of the energy compared to traditional cremation.

Paging Titan A.E.: Scientists Freeze Life to Save It for the Future

In a last-ditch attempt to save the Great Barrier Reef, scientists in the United States and Australia have begun freezing eggs and sperm from the coral, to then fertilize and regrow in the lab. This coral is the latest to join the ranks of species frozen in cryogenic chambers in an attempt to reverse the trend towards extinction, and possibly to prepare future generations of humans for life “After Earth”.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

D.O. Mccomb & Sons Breaks Ground On Crematory

D.O . McComb & Sons Funeral Homes is building a new state-of-the-art cremation center in Fort Wayne.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday at site of the new facility at 2307 W. Main St.

The 11,000 square-foot building will include a specifically designed pet crematory for individual pet cremations. In addition, the cremation center will have facilities to accommodate government and health care related entities to perform their functions in end-of-life issues.

The cremation center will include a gathering and reception area with seating to accommodate more than 100 guests.