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August 17, 2016

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 02, 2016
A Message From Your Region 3 Director

How Are We Passing the Torch?

In the spirit of the Olympic Games this month my article is about passing the torch to the next generation of funeral service professionals. This is not your typical article on succession planning and transferring of assets. It’s about recognizing potential leaders in your firm and allowing them to thrive. Your funeral home may be the leading firm in your community but what will it look like 10, 20 or 30 years from now? How the torch is passed is significant. The greatest women’s Olympic relay team in the 2004 Athens Games was the American 4 X 100 team. They had a four time gold medal winner and had the fastest qualifying team the night before the race. They were clearly the most talented team in the games but they botched the handoff of the baton from one runner to another and were ultimately disqualified for missing the exchange zone. They should have won but they didn’t. So how do we pass the torch in our firms and do it successfully? I don’t want to be the firm to botch the handoff and I’m sure you don’t either.

Everyone remembers the Biblical story of David and Goliath; we even refer to that story when discussing upsets in sports and unpredicted champions. Can we learn from the decisions or mistakes that King Saul made when fighting his old foe, the Philistines and the Bible terrorist, Goliath? Here are a few observations: King Saul failed to utilize the next generation. From the very beginning he did not recognize the potential of David, an Israelite on his own team. Besides the king, David’s own family overlooked him; a resource not even in the game. David was tending to the sheep while the battle was being fought. His father sent him with food to feed his brothers and check on the status of the conflict. It makes me wonder if there is a gifted young person on our staff and they are being overlooked or sent out to get fast food for the team. I believe we have to let the next generation of funeral professionals have the freedom to share their ideas and add to the vision of the firm. Today we have men and women in their 20’s who are the face of their particular sports franchise—leading and adding to the success of the whole organization but in the funeral industry we hide the young staff or act like they have to “earn their keep.” Look at the statistics of mortuary school graduates who leave the profession in a few short years. We have to value their input or they will get discouraged and either go to your competitor or seek a new career.

Another mistake Saul made was trying to have David fight Goliath while wearing his armor and carrying his huge sword. This was a total failure because Saul was a much bigger man than David. His armor and sword were too cumbersome and he had no flexibility to move. Saul was a successful warrior and wanted David to fight the way he had always fought. He wanted to fight today’s battle with yesterday’s methods. We cannot expect the next generation to do things the same way we did, nor should we want them to! Customs and attitudes towards funerals and culture in general are constantly changing and we have to be flexible with our young staff. He may not come in each morning wearing his tie or she maybe could care less about joining a local service organization. The mission or vision doesn’t change but the way we achieve such goals can be done differently. They don’t have to wear the same armor we do because it may not fit but we have to affirm them and encourage them to be a part of our organization. They have the education and the drive to serve or they wouldn’t be excited to come to work every day. It’s just a matter of recognizing the difference between that which is timeless and never changes and that which is timely and does change. David used a different method but the greater outcome was still the same. It would be a shame to lose a member of the team because we expect them to be just like us.

Lastly and maybe most importantly, Saul feared the success of the next generation. He was upset that David became a hero and was loved by the people. Saul was insecure. That kind of fear can stifle growth and paralyze an organization of any kind. We should be encouraged when our staff is praised by the community. It’s not about our glory but about the greater good of the funeral home and the satisfaction of the families we serve. If we let our staff be successful, we in turn will be successful. This younger generation is confident, has good ideas and is motivated to be a part of the team. We need to take joy in their passion and pass the baton as smoothly as possible. If we don’t we will alienate them and they will go someplace else where their skills are appreciated. As owners and managers we need to find and recognize leaders in our industry and let them have the flexibility to thrive. So again I ask; where will your firm and my firm be 10, 20 or 30 years from now? How will we pass the torch? I believe the successful firm will be the one that recognizes young leaders and encourages them to rise up and lead. It is best for our firms and for funeral service overall.


Ralph Gent Bowles
Gent Funeral Home, Inc.

Executive Director's Report

It has been an exciting year for IFDA. We’re off to a great start for the 2015-2017 licensing period. We have already offered 95 categorized CE home study hours and 65 classroom hours.

IFDA is committed to our members and to representing you to the best of our abilities. As you know, IFDA recently launched a new website. Our association management software now includes the ability for increased networking opportunities between fellow members and IFDA.

Another benefit of the new AMS is the online learning option that will renovate our home study program. I’m very happy to announce four new IFDA online CE courses:

  1. Dr. Hambly’s Historical Guide to Embalming Cookbook
  2. Reverence for the Dead: The Unavoidable Truth
  3. The Story of Cremation
  4. Lincoln’s Funeral

You can check out the complete list of home study and online courses through the ONLINE STORE.  Certifications are sent by email when you complete and pass the test. You can log in to your profile and under the Professional Development tab, you can view and print your CE transcripts at any time. We must have a valid email address unique to you.  Look for more information on this below.

Your IFDA Board of Directors and staff worked very hard on a Strategic Plan this year. Several conclusions have come about as a result of that plan.

  • IFDA has owned its' own building since 1986. During the past 30 years our space requirements have diminished, until today, we occupy a part of the garden level only. We have a tenant that occupies the entirety of the first floor. Maintenance and repair costs have become more necessary and extensive as the building ages. Consequently, the building has become less financially feasible. As a result, the Board of Directors has decided that it is in the best interest of IFDA and its' members to sell the building. In the coming weeks we will be working with commercial real estate professionals to find a suitable buyer.
  • As another part of the strategic plan, we have put together a Senior Citizen Connection Program which is a presentation for members to offer as a community outreach.
  • IFDA Past President, Jay Markwell is working on a Hospice Connection Program to give funeral directors and hospice personnel a better understanding of each other’s worlds and to benefit the community at large. Please join us in Effingham to launch this program at our Fall Seminar November 9th.
  • We’re also working on a new Career Day Kit to present at your local schools to increase interest in careers in funeral service.
  • IFDA Immediate Past President Stephanie Deiters is leading the new Illinois Award of Funeral Service Distinction program to help promote funeral service and to acknowledge the best public relations efforts being achieved by IFDA Member funeral homes.
  • We are also working on a Business Practice Advice Program, a Legal Advice Program, a rejuvenated Legislative Committee and an enhanced Conflict Resolution Service.

Legislatively, we hired professionals to help us in our efforts. We were successful in the recent passage of VR206, which allows for the temporary removal of a deceased human body out of state for organ and tissue donation. Our lobbyists are heavily involved in negotiations for the new CE rules. They are continuously monitoring and tracking all legislation that affects the funeral profession and together with your IFDA Board of Directors, strategically invest IFDA PAC dollars.

I am very pleased to tell you about the Career Center enhancement that was recently implemented. It includes a career planning area to help job seekers negotiate employment contracts and search engine optimization that will maximize the number of visitors to the site, allowing you to quickly find or fill a position. Be sure to check it out!

As an IFDA member, you are an owner of this association and an important part of a meaningful cause that is greater than each of us individually. We need to know your thoughts, wishes and ideas. I encourage you to take part in IFDA member surveys and member forums and to share your opinions with us.

IFDA and NFDA Members - Be Sure to Cast Your Vote

NFDA adopted a new governance structure during the 2015 International Convention & Expo which brought exciting and historic changes including a revitalized process for electing the men and women who serve on the Board of Directors.

Under the new structure, NFDA members have a say in the governance of the association and will be responsible for electing the officers on the Board of Directors – president-elect, treasurer and secretary.

"Please be sure to vote in the NFDA election.  You have until August 31st to cast your vote." said NFDA Policy Board Representative Linda Allan.

Candidate profiles and access to the ballot can be found HERE.

Worker Protections Secured Behind Chicago's New Paid Sick Leave Ordinance 
  In a unanimous vote, Chicago’s City Council recently passed an ordinance that will mandate practically all employers within city limits to provide a minimum amount of paid sick leave to its employees. In doing so, Chicago has joined the ranks of other cities such as New York and San Francisco in this growing trend of adopting legislation aimed at increasing worker benefits.  For the full story, click here.

Secretary of State Jesse Whites Vehicle Registration Reminder Notices-Pushes Email Notifications
  Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office has reinstated the mailing of vehicle registration reminder notices to Illinois drivers. To offset the cost of the mailings, White is drafting legislation allowing his office to offer advertising space on the mailings.  In addition, White is urging the public to sign-up for email notices to further reduce mailing costs.  MORE INFO

Mark Your Calendar! November is Have the Talk of a Lifetime® Month

Attend the Free Webinar on September 8, 2016 to Learn all the Details.
November is Have the Talk of a Lifetime® month, dedicated to maximizing visibility of Have the Talk of a Lifetime and driving consumers to YOU, the funeral professionals! A new theme was developed for this event, “Time for Family, Time for Talk,” which is highlighted with a new logo!

During the month we invite you to participate by hosting your own events to connect with your communities. Resources have been developed to make it EASY and EXCITING for YOU, the funeral professionals, to participate and engage consumers. Learn about all of these opportunities by registering for the webinar today!

There is a lot to talk about! You won't want to miss this webinar detailing all of the events during Have the Talk of a Lifetime Month. During the webinar we will share important dates and events, and how to access and use the tools to help you engage with your communities.  More Info->

 EEOC Enters Historic First Settlement in Sexual Orientation Case
  On June 28, 2016, the EEOC reached a historic first settlement on one of these lawsuits. In the case against Pallet Companies, doing business as IFCO Systems North America, the EEOC alleged that the company discriminated against a woman by terminating her for complaining about harassment associated with her sexual orientation.  READ THE FULL STORY HERE

 Why Having a Unique Email Address is Important

We are often asked by members why they need to have their own email address. There are a multitude of reasons, but we have listed a few of them here.

  • Email is now the formal line of business communication and has been considered so for several years.
  • E-mail is fast. Time-sensitive information, updates pertaining to regulations, notices and breaking news can be received within minutes, not days or weeks with “snail mail.”
  • It is one of the most effective methods of communication in business. It allows a quick response from the other party and keeps a record of a conversation which is searchable and can be referred to later.
  • Email messages remain in a user's inbox unless it’s deliberately deleted. This creates a virtual paper trail that is far more efficient than printed documents filed away in a drawer, making it extremely easy to extract important information from email communication.
  • It is a must-have communication tool for those looking to fill a job and job-seekers. For those looking to fill a position and those who might be looking for a job, electronic communication is the single most important must have in today’s highly technical world. The best way one can secure that line of communication is to have an accessible email account to send and receive email.
  • We see you as a person not an organization-regardless of your membership category. Whether you are a member of IFDA as a home owner, through your place of employment (funeral home), or as an individual, IFDA requires UNIQUE email addresses for each person. Your email is tied to your profile and CE record and is the unique identifier that distinguishes you from everyone else. Think of it like your social security number. When multiple people share the same email within the system it causes records to be overwritten.
  • IDFPR is going paperless and changing the way it communicates with you. IDFPR made the decision to move away from a paper-based department and license process. They are moving towards electronic notification and licensure. Last November IDFPR announced and we relayed the message that they will be “using email as the primary notification method for license renewal notifications and other important notifications in the future.” IDFPR requires each licensee to keep the agency notified of his or her current address, email address and phone number.
  • In addition to IDFPR, several other state agencies are going paperless – you will need email to communicate and interact with them. IDPH (IVRS), DHS and SOS are all headed down the path of creating paperless departments. What that means exactly is yet to be determined, but at the very least it means communication will be disseminated electronically.

    If you are unable to obtain email through your internet provider there are many free, web-based, e-mail providers that are currently available. It usually takes just a few minutes to create an account.

  • If you go to you can click on the link that says "Create an Account."
  • If you go to, you can click the link that says "Sign up."
  • There is also, where you can click the link that says "Sign up."

You can pick an email address, password and enter some minimal personal information to create your very own email account. You can then log in and access your email from any computer with internet access or from a mobile device with access to those email providers.

These are just a few of the free email account providers that are currently available. You may find another option you prefer more.

Check Out Your CE Credits

One of the benefits of the new Website/AMS/Online Community is that you can manage your continuing education credits at any time.  Credits that you earn through IFDA are posted to your profile and are available for viewing/printing at any time.  They will never be removed.  As an added member benefit you can add credits obtained outside of IFDA to serve as a reminder of what you have earned.  Please note, IFDA is not responsible for the legitimacy or accuracy of any CE not provided by IFDA.

Log-in to the Website/AMS

  • Go to
  • On the right hand side of the website about half way down you will see a log-in box that says “Sign-In” at the top of it. This is where you will put in your Username (email) and Password.
  • Once signed-in you should land on your Manage Profile page. If not, on the right hand side of the screen you will see a menu of choices, choose the Manage Profile option.

Professional Development

This is where you can track your CE's.

  • Once you are logged in, on the right side of the screen you should see the My Profile header over a menu of choices. You may have to scroll down to see it. Under the header you will find the Manage Profile option. Click that.
  • Once the next screen opens up you should see several icon choices. The 3rd section down-Content & Features is where you will find the Professional Development icon. Click the Professional Development icon.
  • Once selected the next screen shows you two tabs -Journal Entries and Certifications/Programs. The screen opens on Journal Entries.

    Journal Entries

    This is where you can see a summary of your CE as well as enter any CE obtained outside of IFDA. (Please note: The option of entering CE obtained outside of IFDA is provided as a courtesy for you to keep track of your CE. Posting your CE/Program here in no way certifies or approves it in any way. IDFPR is the regulating body for funeral directors in the State of IL and any and all CE requires their approval. IFDA is not responsible for the legitimacy of any CE not provided by IFDA.) Under the Journal Entries and Certification/Programs tab there is a shaded box.  Look for the icons below it. You will see a row of icons that say Print Transcript * Print Filtered Entries * Email Transcript * Add Entry . The Print Transcript icon allows you to print your entire transcript of CE credits. The Email Transcript allows you to email your entire transcript of CE credits to your email address.

    In addition, each entry can be printed and emailed. If you scroll down to an individual entry you will see icons in the Options column. The first icon is a printer which will allow you to print that particular entry, the second is an envelope which will allow you to email the entry to your email address and the third is a lock to show that the entry is locked for editing (this means it was not entered by you.)

You can find these instructions on the New Website FAQ page under the Resources tab on the IFDA homepage.

 New Members
  Please welcome our newest members!

  Lawrence Coulon
Sugar Grove, IL

Colonial Terrace Funeral Home & Crematory
Jon Poore
Eldorado, IL

  Eagle Burial Vault
David Long
Frankfort, IL

McCullough Funeral & Cremation Services
Adrienne McCullough
Ford Heights, IL

Member News
  Ralph Sedgwick of Sedgwick Funeral Home & Crematory recently celebrated the opening of his new facility in Canton IL.  Congratulations Ralph!
District News

NEIFDA - August 27, 2016
McLean County FDA - September 29, 2016

Classified Ads

Funeral Home For Sale
Chicago suburb, small volume funeral home in business for 75 years.  Family business with potential, 1 chapel, sitting room with fireplace, showroom, lounge, prep room and upstairs apartment, 2-car garage with apartment above includes Pre-Needs. Owner retiring.  Asking $325,000.  Serious inquiries only. 708-473-7277

  Advertise with us!  Check out our advertising options.
Don't see something that fits - Email or call us, we can customize a package for you. or 217-525-2000.

Check Out IFDA's Facebook and LinkedIn Pages
Be sure to check out the IFDA Facebook page and give us a "like"!
While you're at it, check out the IFDA Linkedin page too!

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