14 Funeral Directors With Olympic-Sized Athleticism

August 17, 2016
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Guest article provided by: My ASD – Answering Service for Directors

As the Olympic games in Rio progress, many of us have been thinking a great deal this month about what characteristics define a great athlete. It is truly incredible to witness how far Olympic competitors push their physical and mental limits to achieve greatness in their sport. There is no question that watching the Olympics is an inspiring reminder of the importance of finding one’s true calling in life. This led us to consider what traits distinguish an Olympic athlete, and we realized that many of these traits also describe the work of funeral professionals.

Like athletes, funeral must have a great deal of discipline and miss out on a lot of life events in devotion to a calling. Practiced athletes can make difficult performances appear almost effortless, a talent that requires great focus, patience and attention to detail. These skills are also required for funeral directors who must balance so many tasks without appearing stressed or uncompassionate. Reflecting on these parallels made us curious what sports funeral directors might enjoy and excel at, so we reached out to our clients to find out.

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We were highly impressed by the range of different athletic activities that funeral professionals engage in. Many of the directors drew a direct correlation between their career as a funeral professional and their love for a particular sport or athletic pursuit. Being a funeral professional can be a very demanding job and athletics provides a healthy release and outlet. Directors come face to face with mortality almost every day. They are reminded often how unhealthy habits can lead to a premature death. For this reason, funeral professionals care deeply about maintaining their health and are drawn to sports because they provide a fun way to stay fit. But for these directors, it is not just about being a participant. Many have won competitions or received acclaim because they take that same discipline they have honed as a funeral director and apply it to their athletic goals.

The list below proves that when funeral professionals devote themselves to something, they devote themselves 100%. Here are 14 Funeral Professionals With Olympic-Sized Athleticism


1. Kevin Pike – Marathon Runner 
-Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home in Cedar Springs, MI

“My sport is running. I took it up again five years ago at the encouragement of one of my daughter’s to run a 5K with her. I have really enjoyed it and our whole family has run at different times. We are running in about 8 5K’s a year and last fall we ran a half marathon. This September we are running a 10 mile race. It has helped me maintain my weight, with stress and also, because I am the only director at the funeral home and do not get a lot of vacation, it makes me feel like I am getting out and look forward to the races with my family. I am averaging about 50 miles a month.”-Kevin Pike

2. Rachel Patstone (AKA “Madame Morticia”), Roller Derby Skater 
-Abbey Funeral Home in Medford, OR

“I have been playing roller derby since 2008. My derby name is Madame Morticia. I am married with four grown children and two grandchildren. I will be 49 years old at the end of August. I am a very competitive person and love the camaraderie this sport offers. It is very inclusive and supportive.”-Rachel Patstone

3. Devin McCluskie, Obstacle Course Racer and Crossfit Athlete
-Blue Funeral Home in Marion, IL

“My passion is obstacle course racing and crossfit. Both help to relieve stress caused by our dynamic industry.”-Devin McCluskie

4. Phillip Sollon, Cross Country Dirt Bike Racer 
-Sollon Funeral Home in Canonsburg, PA

“When I put the answering service on, I can hop on the bike and go. I try to practice once a week between races and compete in the Vet B class of the new East Coast Cross Country Series. It’s my out. Great healthy way to put everything on pause and just enjoy.”-Phillip Sollon

5. Sara Wise, Marathon Runner
-Latek & Rybicki Family Funeral Homes in Garfield Heights, OH

“I am a runner. I’ve been running for the past 22 years. It’s a sport I fell in love with the more I did it. It also helped I became better at it the older I got. Running has been a great escape and stress release from work. It’s a time to not think about work or death, but enjoy all the beauty and life surrounding me. I ran my first (and only) marathon this past May in Cleveland in the worst weather conditions they had experienced in their 39 years, and still managed a 3:51:47 finish time. I am currently training for my 9th half-marathon this September. I also love doing 5k’s and 5 mile races too. I love achieving new PR’s and getting medals.”-Sara Wise

6. Patrick Morrill, Water Skiing Champion 
-Daniel T. Morrill Funeral Home in Southbridge, MA

“I love to water ski competitively. I’ve been skiing since I was seven years old (grew up on a lake in the summers). I am a nationally ranked slalom skier in the Mens 4 division (ages 45-52). Everyone needs a release from this business and this is mine. While I do have other sports activities and hobbies, nothing compares to my love for water skiing.”-Patrick Morrill

7. TJ Fluehr, Competitive Shooter
-Mulligan Funeral Home in Philadelphia, PA

“These photos were taken at the F.I.T.A.S.C World Championship in The Umbria Region of Italy. I was a competitor in the event. I have been shooting competitively for over 10 years. I have competed in 6 National Championships, 8 U.S. Opens and 3 World Championships. I really enjoy the competition and being able to test my skill against the best in the world.”-T.J. Fluehr

8. Steve Murphy, Body Builder
-Medina Funeral Home & Cremation Service in Medina, TN

“My sport I engage in is bodybuilding. I have lifted weights since my high school days and transitioned that into the bodybuilding. It is a passion I share with less than 1% of the world’s population. I also offer training and meal plans in prepping for shows. I have assembled a team of athletes and we travel competing together. The thing I enjoy about this sport is the dedication it takes to compete. Practicing self control and discipline allows me to become a better in my profession.”-Steve Murphy

9. Rachel Riddle (aKA “Undertake Her”)– Roller Derby Skater
-St. Joseph Funeral Home in South Bend, IN

“I have been in the South Bend Roller Derby for 4 years and I love it because it has me in the best shape of my life. My roller derby name is Undertake Her. Derby is not the easiest sport in the world because you are making rough contact with other people on roller skates. If you can hack it, this is so worth being apart of a league of strong women with fierce athleticism. You must make practice attendance every month to play in games, so you have to get up and go exercise with no excuses. I try to make practice 3 times a week as well as go to the gym to cross train.”-Rachel Riddle

10. Charlie Rimel, Weight Lifter and Crossfit Athlete
-Henry Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Staunton, VA

“I found out about CrossFit from my brother about two years ago but did not actually start doing it about a year ago. It is the most fun exercising I have ever had. I feel great! It is tough, but you feel accomplished every day you get to sweat and lift some heavy weights! It is definitely a lifestyle change and the support and friends you gain from joining a local CrossFit box “gym” is amazing. I’m a member at CrossFit SAW in Fishersville, Va. Another reason I really love this sport is that a lot of the workouts are in honor of fallen soldiers and emergency responders. For example: Lt. Michael Murphy, a US soldier that was killed in action. There is a workout every Memorial Day that CrossFit does worldwide called “Murph” it consist of a, 1 mile run, 100 push-ups, 200 pull-ups, 300 squats and then another 1 mile run.”-Charlie Rimel

11. Wynn Beard, Motocross State Champion
-Kays-Ponger & Uselton & Lemon Bay Funeral Home & Cremation Service in Punta Gorda, FL

“I started by working in a Hardware Store that was also a Honda Motorcycle Dealer. This was all in a small town in Kentucky where my family originated. I was the 1974 State Champion in my class. The old picture was on a Honda Elsinore 125 taken in 1975. I was sponsored by two Motorcycle Shops and raced Motocross all over Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. I raced competitively for 4-5 years with my last races at Loretto Lynn in Tennessee. That is the last step to moving to a Professional Rider, but I stopped to begin my college education. I never rode again for 30 years then purchased the Kawasaki 250 and ride on and off road today for fun. I still have the desire to ride like I did in the 70s and have lots of fun doing it.”-Wynn Beard

 12. Robert Clark, Obstacle Course Racer 
-Mullins Funeral Home in Trumbull, CT

“I enjoyed the challenge that is the Tough Mudder. If you are not aware this event is between 10-12 miles of obstacles and running. This particular event is one of the most demanding as it takes place on Mt. Snow in VT. The elevation alone is enough to cripple someone. I guess you could say I love a challenge and that is no different in being a funeral director day in and day out.”-Robert Clark

13. Ashley Buirley (AKA “Em Bomb Her”), Roller Derby Skater

-Snyder Funeral Homes in Mansfield, OH

“I play on the All- Star Team with Central Ohio Roller Derby. I practice twice a week and usually travel once to twice a month with the team. We just got back from Knoxville Tennessee. In roller derby it is tradition to have a “derby name”. So when it came time for me to think of a name a couple of years ago the whole funeral home helped come up with something cleaver and fitting. My name is Em- Bomb- Her….. I get quite a few inquirers that ask about my name and if I am truly a embalmer and everyone is pleased to hear me say yes! I love roller derby and its a great outlet to have outside of work. As many funeral directors know, you need something outside of the funeral home to focus on and refresh yourself, so that you are ready to get back to work the next day. This business can be physically and emotionally draining. Also its great to be apart of team, which I think also directly influences your job. At the funeral home we are constantly work as a team to get done, what needs to be done and meet the needs of the family.”-Ashley Buirley

14. Todd Abell, Marathon Runner 
-Abell Funeral Home in Abernathy, TX

“I have been running for about 13 years and have ran in numerous charity “fun runs.’ I ran my first 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles) in San Antonio, TX in 2009. I have also ran half marathons at Disney World and Disney Land and Austin, TX. I enjoy starting my day with morning runs, anywhere from 5:00 am to 6:30 am, and do an average of 5-8 miles. Running has become a passion for me, I can get away from the phones, and just have some time to think…..and gasp for oxygen…. I also enjoy bicycle riding. My sons and I have been riding for several years now, and as I get older, I am realizing this is much easier on the joints, but it doesn’t replace the “rush” I get from a good morning run.”-Todd Abell
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