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KIP Awards



This year's contest attracted 49 entries from not only across the United States, but also Canada, Chile, Malaysia and Australia. Communications and marketing professionals from outside the cemetery and funeral service profession performed the judging.

Grand prize winner El Camino Memorial - Sorrento Valley Chapel will receive a free registration to the 2014 ICCFA Annual Convention & Exposition, April 8-11, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. All first-place and honorable mention winners will be recognized at the Convention and in ICCFA Magazine

ICCFA congratulates the winners and thanks all who entered the 2013 KIP Awards!

First Place & Grand Prize Winner
El Camino Memorial – Sorrento Valley Chapel: Benedict Marfori Service
San Diego, CA

Benedict Marfori had a lifelong passion for aircraft so when he was diagnosed with cancer and told he had 6 months to live he decided to spend his days building model airplanes. He defied odds and lived three years beyond his diagnosis, during which time he built over 500 model airplanes. His family wanted an over-the- top service that would leave them with a joyous memory. El Camino Memorial had his casket placed in front of a 20-foot custom painted airplane backdrop and was surrounded by his many model airplanes. During the service a DVD played that showcased Benedict with every plane he had built and every military base he had visited. During the visitation and service, “Danger Zone,” the theme from Top Gun, was playing. Frequently services at El Camino are paused due to jets flying over. In this instance, Benedict’s service was not paused, as the family believed it was a special fly-over just for Benedict.

Honorable Mention
Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home: Mr. Clayton’s Service
Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Clayton died unexpectedly one afternoon while working in his garden. His wife, physically, mentally and emotionally drained from grief and making arrangements, fell and broke her hip the very next day. The family was overwhelmed to discover that their mother’s emergency surgery was scheduled for the very day as Mr. Clayton’s service and that she would not be able to pay final respects to her husband of 59 years. In an incredible act of orchestrated personal care, the funeral home and the hospital devised a plan to accommodate these circumstances. The funeral home created a customized casket to pay tribute to Mr. Clayton’s service in the coast guard during WWII. On the way to the cemetery the hearse took a quick detour at the hospital where Mrs. Clayton was recuperating. The hospital had reserved twenty parking spaces for the procession and had created a “makeshift funeral parlor” where Mrs. Clayton was finally able to say her parting goodbyes.
First Place
French Funerals & Cremations/Sunset Memorial Park: University of New Mexico Funeral Packages & Lobo Pavilion
Albuquerque, NM

French Funerals & Cremations has partnered exclusively with the University of New Mexico and built a special pavilion specifically dedicated to and themed around UNM Lobos. The pavilion uses specific UNM colors and has rights to use every UNM logo, if the family chooses. Central to the pavilion is a custom bronze statue of the school’s mascot and niches can be purchased surrounding this statue that come with a miniature replica. They have also designed several Lobo themed funeral packages that allow the family to incorporate UNM Lobo themed items into the funeral itself; items include themed urns and caskets, neckties, flags, blankets and more. The Lobo Pavilion beautifully captures the spirit of the University of New Mexico and the of the Albuquerque community that so passionately identifies with it.

Honorable Mention
Cook Funeral and Cremation Services (Cook Family Services): Infant Services
Grandville, MI

Throughout the years, Cook Funeral and Cremation Services have offered free and discounted services to all families who have lost an infant or child. Recently, they have developed publications uniquely dedicated to this specific kind of loss with the hopes of giving the family lasting keepsake that help hold on to the precious memories and bring healing.

First Place
Cook Funeral and Cremation Services (Cook Family Services): Tree Lighting Service
Grandville, MI

The holidays can be a particularly tough time for those who have lost loved ones. Cook invites their community to participate in a tree lighting and memorial service. A banner is placed near the tree that includes all of the names of deceased loved ones from the community. Families search for their loved ones names and as they touch them, the scene is reminiscent of the Vietnam Memorial. It is a private and moving moment. Once the tree is lit, it stands day and night as a visual reminder of all of those loved ones that the community has lost.

Honorable Mention
Chapel of the Roses: Sandy Hook Elementary Snowflake Drive
Atascadero, CA

Like all of us, the staff at Chapel of the Roses was deeply affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Working with the National Parent Teacher Association, they hosted two “Snowflake Drives” in which their community was invited to create unique snowflakes to send back to Sandy Hook Elementary. Chapels of the Roses and their community were able to create 500 snowflakes to decorate the school with. Once the children were able to return they were greeted with a “blizzard of love and support in the form of snowflakes.”

First Place GPS Living Memorials App
Virginville, PA

The GPS Living Memorials App offers any cemetery the ability to provide for their families with mobile and online memorials, printed copies for graveside service, photo galleries, public submission options and integration with social media – without having to wait until all the records and maps are in the computer. Each cemetery is able to brand their own app and publishes the memorials to their own website. Visitors can download the app for free or borrow a tablet from the cemetery to use on the grounds. The app provides real time navigation to the grave for the user.  Users can also utilize the Tours component to follow pre-loaded walking tours to visit notable people, graves or landmarks with interesting histories.  The app also allows visitors to contribute their own thoughts, story or memorial to individual gravesites. This app makes the visit to the graveside meaningful and interactive.

Honorable Mention
Project Repat: T-Shirt Blanket
Boston, MA

Project Repat makes it easy and affordable to preserve t-shirt and clothing memories from a deceased loved one. T-shirts are as American as apple pie – we receive one for every race we run in and every event we participate in. They are our trophies, representing our accomplishments, our culture our beliefs. Customers are able to send in these mementos from their loved one and receive a personalized blanket keepsake made from the logos and fabric of their loved one’s clothing.

Honorable Mention
Paw PODS, LLC: Paw Pods
Lake Orion, MI

Paw Pods are made from completely biodegradable and eco-friendly materials, such as bamboo and rice husk and incorporate only all-natural dyes, glues and sealers. They come in six sizes ranging from micro to large, two urn sizes and new fish and heart shaped pods. Each pod comes with a sympathy card and seeded leaf that can be planted with the pet.

First Place
Until We Meet Again Pet Memorial Center: The Whistler Sled Dogs
North Vancouver, BC

The community of Vancouver was outraged when 100 sled dogs were brutally killed and dumped in a mass grave in Whistler. The Vancouver SPCA and Until We Meet Again teamed up to give these dogs the care and final resting place they so deserved. Until We Meet again arranged for one private cremation. Once cremated each dog was placed in black velvet bags embroidered with “Until We Meet Again…At the Rainbow Bridge” and buried together. Until We Meet Again also donated the headstone to mark their final resting place, which was inscribed with “We Will Never Forget…Run Free.”

The KIP (Keeping It Personal) Awards for the best in personalization were created by ICCFA's Personalization Committee to recognize outstanding examples of personalization of services or products in the death care profession. Categories are:

  • Innovative Personalized Product (suppliers-only category): Product that memorializes in a personal and meaningful way. The product may be physical or virtual and may include, but is not limited to, memorials, monuments, urns, art, printed material and web-based tributes.
  • Most Personalized Service or Memorial: An outstanding example of a personalized funeral for a particular individual, or a very personalized memorial. Explain how your staff provided a particular family with a funeral service or memorialization that really told the story of their loved one’s life.
  • Event: For the most personal and creative workshop, seminar or holiday event sponsored by your cemetery or funeral home. The event must include the participation of your clients and/or the general public. Such events may include, but aren’t limited to, themes that are educational, commemorative, charitable, celebratory, financial or psychological in nature.
  • Best Practice: A "best practice." Something that you do for every family, or every family in a certain situation (examples: when the deceased is a veteran, or a baby). Note: An event such as a Christmas program is NOT a best practice, it’s an event.
  • Most Personalized Pet Service or Memorial: An outstanding example of a personalized funeral for a particular pet, or a very personalized memorial. Explain how your staff provided a particular family with a pet memorialization or tribute service that really told the story of their beloved pet’s life.

Past winners: