Funeral Directors, State Association: Court Decision Good For Consumers

By Chris Buckley

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 12:01 a.m. by @TribLive

A U.S. Circuit Court ruling upholding Pennsylvania’s law governing the funeral industry is good news for the public, according to local funeral directors and their state agency.

The latest ruling reversed a lower court ruling issued two years ago.

In 2008, a small group of funeral directors sued the Pennsylvania State Board of Funeral Directors and two officials involved with investigating funeral homes for licensing violations. The plaintiffs alleged that 12 provisions of the state’s 1952 Funeral Director Law were unconstitutional.

In 2012, U.S. District Court Judge John Jones in Harrisburg struck down 11 regulations; one of the original 12 counts was withdrawn by the time he got the case.

Last week, however, a three-judge panel in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals declared that nine of the 11 provisions are constitutional.

Among them were the ability for the state to conduct random funeral home inspections and a ban on paying commissions to unlicensed salespeople or agents to secure business.

The appeals court also upheld the 100-percent trusting provision, which requires that all money paid for pre-arranged funerals be put into a trust for the customer’s benefit until his or her death. The plaintiffs wanted all of the money paid for services to go into trusts, but only 70 percent of customers’ payments for merchandise such as caskets or vaults are required to go into trusts.

JoAnn Pavlic, supervisor of the Leonard M. Pavlic Funeral Homes Inc. in Charleroi, is a past president of the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association. She said the initial lawsuit did not represent the funeral directors as a whole. In fact, she said, the plaintiffs represented less than a quarter of one percent of all operating in the business.

“It’s a great win for the consumers and the funeral directors alike,” Pavlic said with reference to the recent court ruling.

Pavlic said upholding the 100 percent trusting for pre-arranged funerals “is always best for the consumers.”

“You have to be a licensed funeral director to sell pre-need, that’s what you always want to have,” Pavlic said. “You want the expert person – the person who is licensed – to do that.”

Pavlic said the state board sets a higher standard for the funeral industry.

“There are always tweaks that need to be made and that could be made to laws, to bring them up to date,” Pavlic said. “I believe the state board realizes that, but it’s a process. Nothing can occur except through the Legislature.

“We want the consumer to be vigilant about who they are talking to, that they are talking to someone who is a licensed professional and is not going to take their money and run.”

The Circuit Court ruling means “everything goes back to square one,” said Tim Billick, supervisor of the Dalfonso-Billick Funeral Home Inc. and Cremation Services in Monessen.

But, he said, the recent ruling may lead to modernization of the 62-year-old state law that governs funeral home operations.

“It’s a win for the consumers because we’re still going to be monitored like the way we were before,” Billick said.

“It allows inspections and licensures to stay the way they were. Funeral homes must be operated by a licensed funeral director, not just some person who does not have the training.”

The State Board of Funeral Directors dragged its feet on updating the law, Billick said, leading to the lower court’s decision that the state law was unconstitutional.

For example, while Billick said he is not a proponent of serving food in a funeral home, he said if it is regulated, refreshments could be a welcome break for families, especially during long visitations.

“In any profession, you have to upgrade and update the way the consumer requests things to be done,” Billick said.

“Licensing is most important to protect the consumers. I don’t think just anyone should run a funeral home.”

John Eirkson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association, said trusting, commissions and inspections were the top concerns for his organization and its members. He said the suit represented just four funeral homes statewide and the association was opposed to the suit.

“We think for public protection and safety there should be inspections of funeral homes for health reasons,” Erikson said.

He said the association also opposed paying commissions to independent agents to direct business to a funeral home.

And all funeral homes should have preparation rooms, Erikson said.

While some have advocated for change in the Funeral Director Law, Erikson believes it still has purpose.

“Because the law is old doesn’t mean it’s bad,” Erikson said.

“The U.S. Constitution is older. There are provisions of this law that have worked well for consumers for decades and protected them.”


Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or

Cremation Costs can vary by Thousands of Dollars

Your Funeral Guy

Cremation costs can vary by thousands of dollars. This is is an important factor when considering funeral costs and cremations costs. We have addressed this subject in several places before,-it is important to address this subject again.

You can view a video on this with more info here.

As with funeral cost, and cremation cost- it is very important to shop around.

The remains were brought to the cremation center at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City. Dickson was quoted a price of $2,425 for what is called a “direct cremation.”

“I just told ’em I wanted the bare basic just the ashes in a box no services no nothing,” he says.

At the time he thought it seemed like a lot of money for what he was getting. “I thought of it, but I thought what am I going to do, they’ve got the body here.”

Dickson paid…

View original post 249 more words

Death is a topic at Sochi Olympics

These games have a lot of talk about personal loss.

Original blog by NATE CARLISLE @natecarlisle at The Salt Lake Tribune

Amongst the praise and excitement for the American sweep in men’s slopestyle skiing, an NBC announcer mentioned the father of Utahn and gold medalist Joss Christensen died last year.

I turned to my wife and said, “They found another one.”

Women's Skeleton at Sanki Sliding Center

KRASNAYA POLYANA, RUSSIA – JANUARY 14: Noelle Pikus-Pace celebrates after winning the silver medal in the women’s skeleton competition at Sanki Sliding Center during the 2014 Sochi Olympics Friday February 14, 2014. Pikus-Pace finished with a time of 3:53.86. (Photo by Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune)

Like a lot of people in Utah, my wife and I have been watching the Winter Olympics every evening. After a few nights, I noticed a disproportionately high number of mentions about death.

A lot of athletes seem to have suffered the loss of a loved one, be it a parent (Christensen), a sibling (Bode Miller) a coach (Patrick Chan) or a teammate (just about every Canadian and freestyle skier who knew Sarah Burke).

Apparently, I’m not the only one who noticed this. On Saturday, Los Angeles Times media critic Steven Zeitchik published a column criticizing NBC anchor Meredith Vieira. During her interview with Utah skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace, Vieira suddenly brought up how Pikus-Pace had a miscarriage.

“… The discussion was,” Zeitchik wrote, “the product of an Olympics TV culture that often puts emotional point-scoring above the other kind of point-scoring — you know, the one on the course or rink.”

Zeitchik went on to write: “We’ve gotten used to broadcasters imposing personal arcs on stories of Olympic achievement, the trotting out of hardship to make more meaningful (though in fact to cheapen) a genuine athletic feat. This new strain of getting athletes to talk about a death is a troubling extension of that. At best they’re questions that make everyone feel squirmy. At worst, they trade in a kind of emotional voyeurism.”

But in doing some research, I found NBC isn’t the only one discussing death. The Salt Lake Tribune mentioned Pikus-Pace’s miscarriage, too. ESPN, USA Today and The Washington Post have all published stories on their websites making some mention of a death relevant to an athlete.

I found similar stories from the Associated Press, Reuters and the Agence France-Presse — three wire services whose content is published or broadcast by thousands of news outlets across the world.

Here is a running spreadsheet of athletes at the Sochi Olympics who have been associated with the death of someone.

Did I miss a story? Email me at or tweet to @natecarlisle.

Nate Carlisle is The Salt Lake Tribune’s military reporter and a lifelong sports fan.

15 Slogans for Death’s New PR Campaign

Originally blogged by Caleb Wilde

Grim Reaper

The Grim Reaper would make an outstanding marketing executive.

Death’s taken some heat lately … he’s taken James Gandolfini.  Paul Bearer.  Tom Clancy.  And let’s be honest, Death is due all the criticism he gets.  But, Death isn’t really that bad of a guy.  He’s just a normal dude with a difficult job.

As an effort to vault Death’s public perception, Death is looking to create a slogan that the world’s public will buy into.  A slogan that will help change the world’s perceptions.

Here are 15 slogans.  You’re the first test group, so feel free to criticize or change any of the slogan’s you see; or add any slogans you can create.

1.  “10 out of 10 human’s are doing it!”

2.  “It’s natural.  It’s good for the environment.  It’s green.  It’s death.”

3.  “I felt great when it happened to me.*” — Elvis Presley.

*Individual results may vary.

4.  “Taking care of business since the beginning of time!”

5.  “Death: It eases all your pain.”

6.  “만나서 반갑습니다.*” –  Kim Jong Il (right before he ordered Death to take him to his next kingdom.)

7.  “Come on over to the light.”

8.  “Death: I’m Your Heavenly chauffeur.*”

*Results may vary.

9.  “If it wasn’t for Me, you’d never have bacon.”

10.  “Be apart of something larger.  Donate yourself back to the universe.  Die.”

11.  “10 out of 10 people who die lose weight.”

12.  “Death: It will leave you breathless.”

13.  “It really helped my political campaign.” — William Wallace.

14.  “Without me, you’d still have Hitler, Stalin and bin Laden.”

15.  “Death: Here for you in your darkest hour.”


Lend your creative genius to this effort and don’t let Death down … or he’ll let you down.  Seriously, don’t make him

Navy Seal’s Dog Refuses To Leave Owner’s Funeral. Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Ever Seen.

Original Blog by PetFlow.

Jon Tumilson always wanted to be a Navy Seal. He died living that dream. He perished while serving his country in Afghanistan in an chopper crash, leaving behind so many family members – including his Labrador, Hawkeye. At his funeral, Hawkeye led his family into the services. What happened next is a tribute to the undying love between man and dog.

South African Consulate General in Chicago Offers Electronic Registry for Condolence Book Donated by A Simple Thank You [PRESS RELEASE]

December 7, 2013

Alsip, IL – Chicago-based company, A Simple Thank You would like to offer those who are unable to attend the services for the Former President Nelson Mandela the option to sign the condolence book from anywhere in the world. The South African Consulate General in Chicago has opened the option to allow people to sign the condolence book at two physical locations or to sign the condolence book on the electronic registry.

By using the following link, guests can use their smartphone, tablet or computer to sign the guestbook. A Simple Thank You would like to encourage people to pay their respects to President Mandela for his inspiration and leadership.

SOUTH AFRICANS ON MANDELA: ‘He is the person who saved this country’