Funeral Industry News

SCI, Walmart, and Batesville Lead List of Top 10 Funeral Industry Stories of 2009

January 6, 2010

Ryan Thogmartin is the CEO of DISRUPT Media | Follower of Christ | Husband | Father | Entrepreneur | Host of #DISRUPTu! and #FUNERALnationtv | Lover of Skittles DISRUPT Media is a social media content agency that focuses on storytelling for funeral companies. We use real stories to build creative strategies that achieve actual business goals.

SCI, Walmart, and Batesville Lead List of Top 10 Funeral Industry Stories of 2009

image 2009 wasn’t exactly a picture perfect year for the funeral industry. Marred by scandal after scandal, most press that was given to the industry was negative. Lets hope the 2010 can be a better year.

2009 also brought us another consumer driven casket competitor in Walmart, the worlds largest retailer, who is partnering with Star Legacy to provide caskets online at a discounted price. Walmart entered this venue fueled by Costco and

2009 also led way for the worlds largest casket supplier, Batesville, to purchase the burial vault portion of Goria Corporation in a very quite acquisition that just received press late in December when the story was first published here on

Below is a recap of some of the most popular stories to appear on in 2009:

Top 10 Funeral Industry Stories of 2009 (in Order):

1SCI Funeral Director Charged With Corpse Abuse

A former funeral director is accused of a deeply disturbing crime. The district attorney says authorities uncovered shocking photos of him and a dead body.

2Finally, An Obituary Worth Reading!

Finally, an online obituary that doesn’t put me to sleep. Generally obituaries are standard and pretty boring. Rarely does an obituary really tell you anything about the deceased.

3Funeral Director Reacts to Handling First Walmart Casket, You Might Be Surprised

Last week I posted an article that contained the dialogue I had with a representative from the Walmart media relations? team (Is Walmart Selling Any Caskets? I Called to Find Out, Read The Dialogue). I posted in the article that I have not spoken with anyone (funeral director) who has had a family purchase a casket from Walmart.

Shortly after posting the article I received a call from someone in the industry. He informed me that one of the funeral homes in their area had a family purchase a casket from Walmart.

Following our conversation my friend passed along to me the contact information for Jeff Herington, from Herington Funeral Home, in Kansas City. I placed a call to Jeff yesterday. What he said may surprise you.

4Wanted: Spunky Girls who Love Death

People do one of three things when they meet a female mortician: take a step back, begin asking questions or flee.

?In what other line of work do you tell someone what you do and get such violent reactions?? said Shannon Conlon.

Shannon and her brother, Jeff, run One-Run Entertainment, a documentary television and film company based in Los Angeles. Their latest show is about females in the funeral industry and will discuss what motivates women to join the profession and how they maintain zesty social lives.

5Family Sues After Body Falls Out of Casket

Robert Gowdy may have died May 2, 2008, but memory of his burial lives on.

While the Mesa native’s passing from congestive heart failure surely came as a shock to his family, it’s his graveside burial at a city cemetery that has sparked a lawsuit against the city, Preston Funeral Home and two other parties in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The lawsuit – initially filed in April by 24 relatives and later combined with a separate suit brought by his widow Roxanne and their three children – involves the 50-year-old’s burial at a city cemetery.

6Casket Seller Booted From Flea Market

Hours after he set up his display inside the large warehouse turned flea market, Merritt Eggleston was asked to leave.

?This guy comes up to me and ?says you?re not supposed to be here,?? Eggleston told NewsChannel 36. ?He says ?I can?t have you selling this here.??

7Another SCI Cemetery Accused of Desecrating Remains

One of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the Los Angeles, California, area has been accused of desecrating the remains of those buried there, according to a lawsuit.?

8WalMart Selling Caskets Online?

I was emailed a link Walmart’s website yesterday. The member who sent this to me did a search for “caskets”. The search resulted yielded 14 Star Legacy caskets, all the pictures for the caskets are marked as “NEW” (as in New Item).

When clicking on the casket to view the details, the following information is given:

9Is WalMart Selling Preneed Without a License?

Is WalMart selling preneed? I was posed this question by another member today who lives in Florida. It really got me thinking. She asks her question because Walmart is selling caskets, but is offering no interest or payments for 12 months. Evidently, the Funeral State Board office in Florida is looking into the case. Here is what she emailed me:

10Batesville Called Back…Read The Dialogue

I have to admit when I received a call back yesterday from Batesville marketing director Teresa Gyulafia, I was pretty surprised. After placing a call on Monday to confirm speculation that Batesville Casket Company purchased the burial vault portion of Goria Corporation, I was directed to a number of different voicemails, but no calls were returned on Monday or Tuesday.

Again I called on Tuesday were I was able to talk with a representative from the communication department who did confirm that Batesville purchased the ?Intellectual Property? regarding the burial vaults. All other questions were referred to marketing director Teresa Gyulafia. Wednesday morning I received a call back from Teresa. Here is what she had to say.

* Top 10 list was determined by the number of times each article was read on

We would love to hear your comments on what you think the top stories of 2009 were!!