This year’s contest drew 22 entries from across the United States and abroad. Communications and marketing professionals from outside the cemetery and funeral service profession performed the judging. The winners are as follows:
First Place & Grand Prize Winner
Cheektowaga, New York
In a joint program with the Erie County Veterans Services Department and the County Burial Division, Mount Calvary Cemetery Group’s Pine Lawn Cemetery created a program in which honorably discharged veterans who are cremated and cannot afford a proper burial may be buried for free. Mount Calvary staff assists in securing the veteran’s granite military marker and arranges for a military forces honor guard and a celebrant if needed.
Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
McKenzie & Blundy partners with the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority to plant a tree in memory of each deceased customer. Each family receives a sympathy card informing them a tree has been planted, a commemorative tree notice with the obituary of their loved one, a brochure about the McKenzie & Blundy Memorial Forests, an invitation to the annual dedication ceremony and a letter of gratitude for supporting reforestation. In addition, plaques bearing the customers’ names are placed on a memorial wall at the funeral home.
Olinger Mt. Lindo Cemetery hosts as an annual 5K race, the Hike for Hospice. Now in its 12th year, the purpose of the event is to raise funds and increase awareness of hospice. The hike begins at Olinger Mt. Lindo Cremation Nature Garden & Mausoleum. Olinger employees assist rest stops, provide a personalized dove release in memory of a loved one and provide goodie bags at the finish line. This year’s event had 350 participants and raised more than $10,000 to benefit two hospices.
Speaks Family Legacy Chapels’ hosted its Third Annual “Lest They Be Forgotten” Veterans Program at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. During the event, a packed auditorium gathered to watch the premiere of “Korea, The Forgotten War,” by documentary filmmaker Larry Cappetto. Cappetto had spent two days capturing on film the personal stories of families left behind by fallen veterans. David Speaks served as chairman of the event. The colors were posted by the local American Legion post, and following the film, an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol was presented to a survivor of the only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from Independence, Missouri. A panel discussion followed. Speaks also sponsored a two-month local public television film series titled “Lest They Be Forgotten.”
Most Personalized Service or Memorial
Known as “the life of the party,” David Byerly wanted to go out in style. Olinger Highland Mortuary & Cemetery helped his family arrange a service that included music from Phantom of the Opera, Kid Rock and Motley Crue, along with cigars, Denver Broncos paraphernalia, huge floral displays, skiing and golf equipment and guitars. Byerly’s final resting place is a handpainted martini glass that serves as an urn.
Capt. Michael Medders was killed while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq. The funeral home arranged for video footage to be taken of the processional route to and from the airport and through the town where his father was chief of police. Local news covered the events. The two-hour funeral mass was broadcast via the Internet to Capt. Medders’ fellow troops in Iraq and at the Army base where he was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. More than 3,000 attended his visitation at a local high school while more than 1,500 attended his mass. Over 80 agencies, organizations and communities assisted the funeral home in their efforts.
Veronica Calderon was a member of an equestrian group and an avid horse rider. Following a chapel memorial service, her equestrian troupe presented a “Spanish Walk” march in parade formation, carrying flags and accompanied by a “banda” style brass band and an elaborately dressed vocalist. Charro attire was worn by performers. Her horse performed a “piaffe” dance to say goodbye. Family and friends returned to the reception house and memorial park to enjoy traditional Spanish foods.
Innovative Personalized Product (Suppliers)
Tributes.com provides a single national resource for online obituaries and memorial tributes that allows families to easily share information about the funeral/memorial services as well as the person’s life.
Grand prize winner Mount Calvary Cemetery Group receives a free registration to the ICCFA 2009 Annual Convention & Exposition, April 20-23 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
All first place and honorable mention winners will be recognized at the Convention and in ICCFA Magazine, receive discounted registration to the Convention, and are being provided promotional news releases to submit to their local media.