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For Fans of Final Resting Places

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Who doesn’t love a good cemetery? Cemeteries offer nature, sculpture, and history rolled into one. Realizing that every person resting in a cemetery has a one-of-a-kind life story is an awe-inspiring thought. I always want to know more about how people lived their lives.

An entertaining way to learn about who’s behind some of those markers is to watch a series of YouTube vlogs entitled “Hollywood Graveyard.”  Its host, Arthur Dark, does an admirable job of noting the beauty of cemeteries as he presents facts about their notable inhabitants. Most of the graves he visits are those of famous people many adults will recognize: Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers, and so on. Others are celebrities from years gone by whose fame faded long ago. Ironically, it’s the people I’ve never heard of who often have the most interesting stories.

For instance, I’d never heard the name Ub Iwerks even though I was quite familiar with his contributions to the entertainment industry.  Mr. Iwerks was Walt Disney’s right-hand man for many years. In addition to contributing to the creation of dozens of beloved animated characters, he is also credited with illustrating Mickey Mouse as we know and love him today.

Then there’s the even lesser-known Tamara De Treaux, an actress who stood 2’7” tall. Her diminutive stature kept her from being a leading lady but it didn’t stop her from becoming part of movie history. She was the person inside the costume of “E.T.”

Even familiar people can have unfamiliar backgrounds. Baby Boomers may remember Julie London and Bobby Troup as the married couple who starred in the 1970s television series “Emergency.”  Prior to their stint as television stars, Julie recorded over 20 albums of pop and jazz standards which are now mainstays on online music sites and top radio stations. Her husband had a no less impressive career as a jazz composer and musician, writing the standards “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” and “Girl Talk.”  

While cemeteries are historically the most common site for final resting places, today we have other options. Online tribute sites can tell a detailed story about a person’s life through photographs, videos, stories, and mementos. QR codes linked to memorial websites can be attached to urns. Social media platforms offer conversion of people’s profiles into memorial sites.

Still, a physical location, whether it be an earth burial, urn or scattering garden, suggests a permanent connection. There’s something sad about having nowhere to go to pay tribute to people like former Beatle George Harrison, actor Christopher Reeves and John F. Kennedy, Jr. whose cremated remains were scattered in places unknown or inaccessible.

We don’t have to be famous to have input about how—and where–we’ll be remembered. Many helpful tools are available through the Have the Talk of a Lifetime program that make it easy and even fun to give this information to others. After all, sharing stories with young people, passing along cherished recipes or noting accomplishments that made us proud may be the most enduring way to keep memories of us alive.


By Mark Allen, CEO & Executive Director
This post was originally written for the Have the Talk of a Lifetime blog.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Kindness: Member Spotlight

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Periodically, we’ll highlight one of OGR’s Golden Rule Funeral Homes and the amazing work they’re doing in their communities. This week’s spotlight is on John L. Ziegenhein & Sons (JLZ) in St. Louis, MO. The original article was featured in 2018 Fall edition of OGR’s magazine The Independent

John L. Ziegenhein & Sons, St. Louis, MO

John L. Ziegenhein, Sr., and his four brothers opened a new funeral home in South St. Louis in 1900— Ziegenhein Brothers Undertaking. In 1931, when John wanted to bring his wife and sons into the business, he started his own funeral home, John L. Ziegenhein & Sons (JLZ), at its present location in St. Louis City, MO. In 1995 a second location was opened in St. Louis County about 12 miles south of the original. After the passing of the last member of the Ziegenhein family, ownership was transferred to longtime employees. Roger Richie took ownership in 2006.

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Halloween Event at a Cemetery – Irreverent or Honorable?

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10.30 Halloween Event at a Cemetery ImageThis October, two Halloween events were scheduled to be held in cemeteries  – one was canceled due to community complaints and backlash; another was a success with record-breaking attendance.

What was the difference? Is it okay to host an event during Halloween at a cemetery or funeral home? Or is it irreverent? Read the rest of this entry »

Guidelines for Helping those Grieving Pregnancy & Infant Loss

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This week’s post is taken from information shared by Christine Scott, Executive Director of Western New York Perinatal Bereavement Network, Inc. (WNYPBN). To learn more call 716-626-6363 or visit their website.

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, making it an important month for remembering babies who have been lost in pregnancy or SIDS. Knowing how to respond to a friend or family member who has experienced a pregnancy or infant loss can be hard. See guidelines below for helping those in grief.  Read the rest of this entry »

Pop Culture, Celebrities Deaths, and Suicide

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September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. We’re doing a series of posts this month to encourage conversation around what many have seen to be a taboo subject.

sad-659422_1920Death is an uncomfortable subject and death by suicide even more so. When someone takes his/her life, family members and loved ones oftentimes feel shame and disgrace. The cause of death may be hidden, and loved ones may be reticent to share their feelings surrounding the death. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Effectively Investigate Harassment Claims: 7 Key Steps

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Blog ImagesThis is part 2 of an article, which originally appeared in the Summer 2018 edition of OGR’s Independent magazine. Read Part 1 here.

It is important to realize upfront that investigating sexual harassment complaints is not easy. It tends to be an embarrassing situation for all parties involved or questioned. Not only are the employees involved in the investigation going to be uneasy, but the individual responsible for undertaking the investigation may be sensitive to how the outcome of the investigation may impact their relationship with employees or management. To facilitate this difficult process, funeral home owners/managers can follow several key steps:  Read the rest of this entry »

How to Effectively Investigate Harassment Claims: Policy and Procedure

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8.8.18 Harassment Policy Featured Image

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 edition of OGR’s Independent magazine.

Sexual harassment in the workplace continues to be a trending topic in the United States. While many would like to believe that harassment is not taking place in the funeral industry, in fact, this industry has not escaped these incidents. Various lawsuits have been filed against family-owned and international funeral businesses.

Many funeral businesses understand the need to have anti-harassment policies as well as formal procedures in place for employees to report any harassment. Most anticipate they are never likely to receive such a report. (For more on preventing workplace harassment, read part 1 and part 2 from our blog on this very topic.) However, the reality is that any funeral business may receive a complaint from an employee about experiencing sexual harassment while working.

Frequently, such complaints catch owners and managers completely off guard, and they stumble when they attempt to deal with the situation. This may put them at greater risk for a costly lawsuit. So how does a funeral home owner or manager handle a complaint of sexual harassment? Read the rest of this entry »