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September 14, 2016

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2016
A Message from Your President Elect

The Power of Possibility: Reflections on Worsham College’s Graduation

Last Wednesday was the fall graduation for Worsham College of Mortuary Science and I was delighted to present diplomas and awards to our graduates. I believe that graduation is one of the greatest days at our college and this one certainly did not disappoint. We were honored to have Drew Edwards, Illinois Funeral Directors Association President and General Manager of the Sunset Funeral Homes, as our speaker and he made an inspiring address to our graduates. Drew emphasized the commitment, drive and compassion it takes to be a funeral director. His message of positivity left all the graduates and even established funeral directors excited about the future.

Drew Edwards, IFDA President and General Manager of Sunset Funeral Homes
Drew reminded me what a fascinating time our profession has entered. The many faces I saw at graduation were full of enthusiasm. They are eager to begin their careers. I couldn’t help but think how important our attitudes as funeral directors become to this new generation. This can be a difficult profession and it is important to guide and support these new graduates as they begin their journey. These soon to be funeral directors are nervous and they are looking to us, the funeral directors, for leadership and confidence. It is more important than ever that we learn how to embrace change and new ideas. Resetting our priorities can and will refresh our perspective and help us to remember why we got into this profession in the first place. Continuing with Drew’s message of positivity, I thought I would highlight some of my favorite moments and share some of our graduates' inspiring stories.

One of the things that I love about graduation is seeing the smiles of all the graduates as they walk up to receive their diplomas. It also gives me an opportunity to reflect on the amazing and life-changing experiences of the graduates, and to acknowledge some of the students who have provided strong leadership and service during their time at Worsham College. I presented Zoe’e Jordan with the Bruno B. Bak Memorial Scholarship. An award very special to our college as it is in memory of the venerable Bruno Bak who, with Joan Tomczak-Bak, laid the solid foundation for what Worsham College is today. Zoe’e took at least two modes of transportation every day to get to Worsham and I can say she always had a smile on her face and she never missed an hour of class. Her dedication and perseverance were remarkable.

Lucas Gajewski and Worsham College President, Karl Kann

Lucas Gajewski was acknowledged several times during the evening, but it was presenting the Karlton A. Koball Award that stands out. This is an award voted on by the class to the graduate who is most professional – sometimes we describe it as who among your peers would you trust to handle a family member’s funeral. Lucas was a student who came in most Fridays to help tutor his classmates. He was always ready to learn and never missed an opportunity to speak with presenters about ideas and questions. His passion for the profession is undeniable.

Worsham College Instructor, Brian McMurrough and Walter Reghi

Walter Reghi took home the much coveted Albert E. Worsham Memorial Award affectionately known as the “Worsham Key” for having the highest overall average of the class. Walter was clearly studious, but his interest in the material went beyond just the grades. He continually had discussions with the instructors that were thoughtful and reflective. It was apparent that funeral service was a calling for Walter.

IFDA President, Drew Edwards and Jessica McNeal

Drew was also on hand to award Jessica McNeal with the IFDA Past Presidents’ Scholarship Award. Jessica was a quiet and reserved student. She never seemed to let anything get the better of her. She juggled school, work and a young child and no one would have known. She was always poised and ready to meet any challenge. Jessica has the keen ability to effectively and efficiently manage her time – a skill that will serve her well as a funeral director.

Worsham College President, Karl Kann and Megan Schumacher

Megan Schumacher consistently impressed everyone that worked with her. Megan never dreamed she would be funeral director, but a series of jobs and fascinating conversations with funeral directors led her to pursue this profession. In the year that she was at Worsham she won the Tradition of Caring scholarship from Newcomer Funeral Service Group and was also profiled in American Funeral Director Magazine’s Ones to Watch article. Thankfully Megan found her way into funeral service and we can only hope more individuals with her drive and compassion enter this profession.

These are just a few of the many wonderful stories of the graduates. I know that all of the graduates have had special experiences and will have lasting impressions of their time at Worsham College. Each one of those graduates worked incredibly hard to get to that evening and Worsham College is thrilled that 86% of those graduates already have jobs in the field. Most of the students got to this point with support – support from family and friends. As they step forward into their new jobs, they will still need that support but now it will be support from their mentors and other funeral directors. We must cultivate and encourage their growth and development into funeral directors. I know I speak for Worsham College that we look forward to seeing the positive impact that these graduates will make in the future of funeral service. My sincere thanks to Drew for a truly motivating message that will not soon be forgotten.


Karl F. Kann
Worsham College of Mortuary Science

Funeral and Burial Program Temporarily Funded

IFDA has been notified that temporary funding with the State budget has been put in place for the Funeral and Burial Assistance Program through DHS. This temporary funding in the amount of $8.7 million is for deaths that occur after July 1, 2016 and is available until the funds are depleted.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The State budget is temporary, which means the Funeral and Burial Assistance Program funds are TEMPORARY. For various reasons the Program funds can disappear at any time. Don’t assume the funds will be there.
  • Only claims for deaths occurring after July 1, 2016 will be paid.
  • We recommend that you continue to get your money upfront from families and file for reimbursement through DHS.
  • The last Funeral and Burial Assistance Program budget line item amount was $9.5 million, this temporary budget is $8.7 million.
  • The maximum amount DHS will pay has not changed. $1,103 for a funeral, $552 for a cremation/burial.
  • All questions regarding claims and/or payments/denials can be directed to the Funeral and Burial Unit – 217-524-5294 or 217-558-6653.
  • Other questions need to be directed to the DHS Family Community Resource Center in your area. Here’s a link to find the office in your area - or you can call 1-800-843-6154.
  • Here’s a link to the Funeral & Burial Benefits page -

IFDA has and will continue to effectively communicate the position of funeral directors and funeral home owners on key legislative matters. We will keep you informed as the situation changes.

Cook County Medical Examiner's Office Implements a New Cashiering System 
  IFDA was contacted by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office and asked to relay the following message to you.

The Medical Examiner’s office is in the process of implementing a new cashiering system. We will be rolling out this system October 1, 2016.  ALL funeral homes who have a Fax Cremation account will need to provide the funeral home’s e-mail address as well as the name of a contact person.

The contact person should be the business owner and or a licensed funeral director employed by the funeral home.

This e-mail address and contact person name is essential for the smooth transition into the new system.

Please see the attached, new Cover Sheet. Fill out the new cover sheet in its entirety and re-submit immediately.

(The New Cover Sheet referenced above can be viewed HERE.)

This cover sheet now has an area for the funeral home to put in their e-mail address as well as the name of a contact person.  Please start using this new cover sheet immediately.

Please note that after September 30, no permits will be authorized through IVRS fax account until all requested information is provided.

Feel free to contact me with any question you may have.
Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.

Questions can be directed to:

Mary Marik
Cook County Medical Examiner's Office

Clarifying the Increase in Funeral Rule Violation Penalties
  By T. Scott Gilligan
NFDA General Counsel

Brookfield, Wisconsin – In July 2016, NFDA reported that the civil penalties for a violation of the Funeral Rule would increase from $16,000 to $40,000 beginning August 1, 2016. Since that time, there have been various articles and reports about the FTC increasing the penalty amount that may have caused some confusion and generated questions in the funeral profession. Here, NFDA answers questions regarding the increase.  FULL ARTICLE
 Legislative Update

A couple of bills that affect funeral service were passed and enacted recently.  We have them listed below. 

Allows a child in any of grades 6 through 12 to be absent from a public school on a particular day or days or at a particular time of day for the purpose of sounding "Taps" at a military honors funeral held in this State for a deceased veteran. Sets forth notification requirements.  Read the full Act here.


Amends the Funeral Directors and Embalmers Licensing Code. Allows the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to consider an applicant's prior conviction or convictions, but provides that the conviction or convictions may not be the sole basis for refusing to issue a license unless the crime substantially and directly relates to the occupation for which the license is sought.  Read the full Act here.


In addition, the following SB was enacted into law on August 25, 2016.

The Snow Removal Service Liability Limitation Act. Provides that any provision in a snow plow and de-icing services contract that purports to indemnify or hold harmless a promisee from or against liability for loss or damage resulting from the negligence or omissions of the promisee is against the public policy of this State and is void and unenforceable.  Read the full Act here.
More info here.

IFDA In the News, Contributes to Chicago Tribune Article

The Chicago Tribune contacted IFDA prior to publishing the following article about rising cremation rates.

Cremation on Rise, Could Surpass Burials; Cost, Convenience Among Factors

By Kate Thayer
Chicago Tribune

Facing a grave cancer diagnosis, Cameron Campbell takes solace in knowing his loved ones will heed his wishes to be cremated after he dies.

Campbell, 70, views his preference as more respectful of the environment and more cost-conscious, but his experience in helping his mother plan his father's funeral also informed his choice. His father had not talked about his wishes and ended up with a costly, traditional burial and service.  FULL ARTICLE

2016 NFDA Pursuit of Excellence Awards: Funeral Homes Honored for Excellence in Service to Families and Communities

Brookfield, Wis. – The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) is pleased to announce the funeral homes that have earned the 2016 Pursuit of Excellence Award. This award is presented by NFDA annually to firms that have demonstrated a commitment to raising the bar on funeral service excellence by adhering to strict ethical and professional standards and providing outstanding service to families and communities.

“We offer our congratulations to all NFDA members that earned the 2016 Pursuit of Excellence Award,” said NFDA President Bob Arrington, CCO. “The staff of these funeral homes demonstrate their commitment to the highest professional and ethical standards every single day. They have truly earned this award and we are proud to count them as members of NFDA.”

To earn an NFDA Pursuit of Excellence Award, a funeral home must demonstrate proficiency in key areas of funeral service, such as compliance with state and federal regulations; providing ongoing education and professional development opportunities for staff; offering outstanding programs and resources to bereaved families; maintaining an active level of involvement in the community; participating and actively serving in the funeral service profession; and promoting funeral home services through a variety of marketing, advertising and public relations programs. Participants are also required to adhere to a Pledge of Ethical Practices.
NFDA will honor the 2016 Pursuit of Excellence Award Recipients on October 24 during the All-Star Recognition Ceremony, which will take place during the 2016 NFDA International Convention & Expo in Philadelphia.
NFDA Hall of Excellence Inductees
NFDA-member funeral homes are inducted into the Hall of Excellence upon receiving their 10th Pursuit of Excellence Award. In recognition of their consistent display of professional and ethical excellence, six funeral homes will be inducted into the NFDA Hall of Excellence in 2015.

  • Reeves Funeral Homes Ltd., Coal City, IL

2016 NFDA Pursuit of Excellence Award Recipients

*Previously inducted into the NFDA Hall of Excellence
**First-time award recipients

  • Baskerville Funeral Home, Wilmington, IL
  • Deiters Funeral Home & Crematory, Washington, IL
  • Henderson Funeral Home & Crematory*, Pekin, IL
  • Reeves Funeral Homes, Ltd., Coal City, IL
  • Sunset Funeral Home, Danville, IL
  • Trimble Funeral Home & Crematory**, Moline, IL
  • Watson-Thomas Funeral Home and Crematory**, Galesburg, IL

Congratulations to all the recipients!

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Omaha, Nebraska

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Tags:  99-0804  99-0876  99-0889  career center  Chicago Tribune article  cremation rates on the rise  Drew Edwards  Jessica McNeal  legislative update  Lucas Gajewski  Megan Schumacher  Mrian McMurrough  Walter Reghi  Wosham Graduation 

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