Good Evening. As I stand here in front of all of you, I think back to my first days in the funeral industry in June of 1979. I was a "gopher" and did just about anything that was asked of me. Whether it was cutting grass and trimming the bushes, washing 4-5 cars inside and out, getting permits and death certificates (now replaced by computers and electronic filing of death certificates), dusting everything inside the funeral home, or using my "Hoover's license" and vacuuming all the rooms daily. Of course, these were in addition to working calling hours (sometimes two afternoons and nights), funerals, and gravesides. At that time, there were no local crematories, so we would have to go up to Springfield to have individuals cremated. Now there are several area crematories (some on property of funeral homes) due to the increase in the cremation rate.
Over the last 43 years, several of us have witnessed changes in our industry. Full traditional funerals with burial have been replaced with one-day services, additional cremations, and life celebrations. Many families no longer attend church and we see more funeral home services and celebrations at area venues (restaurants, hotels, clubs, parks, and family homes).
The role of the funeral director is now a facilitator and educator providing ideas and suggestions to the families we serve. It is our job to assist families that are going through the most difficult time of their life in losing a loved one.
We are in an industry that certain media and government agencies keep a close eye on what we do. They do not fully understand our role in the profession we are in. Our profession requires us to be available 24/7 every day of the year. We have to be on our "A game" at all times. We can't have a bad day or allow our personal life issues to get in the way. We are a business that some families just walk in without an appointment, and need to be seen and helped immediately.
I know there are a number of former and present first responders in attendance tonight and I applaud all of you for your service to our communities, along with the veterans in attendance for your dedicated service to our country. However, I want to applaud all of my fellow funeral professionals who worked the past two plus years in our industry during the Covid-19 pandemic. You all are true heroes. We all went to work every day for many hours while others were home, and did not know what we were encountering each day. We never imagined what we had to go through, but we were successful in caring for all the families that suffered a loss of a loved one during these times.
Although we worked many hours, we learned many new ways of doing funeral services. We now have more technology with making funeral arrangements (docu-signing documents and contracts, "live streaming" services from churches and funeral homes; delaying services for relatives and friends to travel to attend the services; video tributes at services and on-line; our understanding the importance of personalization and celebrations of life; and catered luncheons/dinners). We have to be cognizant that each funeral service should be meaningful and memorable to the families we serve.
We also have to be mindful of the young adults that are now making funeral arrangements. This younger generation uses technology all of the time, and would rather communicate via text or email versus face to face. They are often concerned with the value the services they are going to receive.
We have to be respectful of all these changes and treat everyone with the respect that one deserves. We need to treat not only the families we serve but also our co-workers, the way we would like to be treated. As I tell my staff every day, we are a TEAM and together everyone achieves more. It does not matter if we are privately owned or corporately owned, we still need to work together to be a successful profession. We can learn something from each other.
I would like to thank all of you for attending tonight. I will start with our Executive Director John Cascio and his wife Kathi, along with Noelle, Beverly and Laura for their continued support and assistance; President David MacDonald for his commitment as President during the pandemic years the past two years and still running his own business and being a father to two young sons; former and present board members for your knowledge and what you bring to our Association; and Past Presidents of CFDA for their leadership you have given us. I also want to thank past President and friend David Skinner for installing me, as we have seen so many changes since we both came in to this industry around the same time; my good friend and fellow UConn fan, Father James Nock; my co-workers who make my job easier every day; my closest friends Eric and Bob and their wives; my sister-in-law and brother-in-law Cathy and Newington Assistant Fire Chief Tom LaPierre; my two sisters and brothers-in-law, Angela Mac who came in from Cape Coral, FL, and retired principal Pat Gerrity and her husband Jim. Finally, I must thank the love of my life and my rock, my wife Christina who is always there and puts up with the hours at work, schedule changes, and willingness to go out to public events even though she would rather be home or on a beach relaxing. THANK YOU once again to all of you and may you all have a blessed holiday season with your family! ~ Lionel
Treasurer Edward J. Sheehy, Jr. CFSP, CPC, CCO Riverview Funeral Home, Shelton, CT Edward F. Adzima Funeral Home, Derby, CT (203) 924-6800 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary Jonathan L. Green, CPC, CCSP Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home Fairfield, CT. (203) 255-8993 Email: email@example.com
PastPresident David W. MacDonald, CFSP, CPC, CCO Wallingford Funeral Home Wallingford, CT (203) 269-2535 Yalesville Funeral Home Yalesville, CT (203) 269-2222 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NFDA State Leadership Representative Diana Duksa Kurz,CFSP Duksa Family Funeral Homes Newington, CT (860) 666-0600 Duksa Family Funeral Home at Burritt Hill New Britain, CT (860) 229-9021 Email:email@example.com
National Funeral Directors Association President John O. Mitchell, IV, CFSP, CCO 13625 Bishop's Drive Brookfield, WI 53005 Phone: (800) 228-6332 Fax: (262) 789-6977 FAXBACK: (800) 713-0661 Website: www.nfda.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org