Funeral Industry News Funeral Industry Press Releases

ICCFA University Achieves Near-Record Attendance; Winter And Ehlert Selected As Valedictorians; Heffner’S Term Expires

August 6, 2014

ICCFA University Achieves Near-Record Attendance; Winter And Ehlert Selected As Valedictorians; Heffner’S Term Expires

STERLING, VA (August 6, 2014)—The 2014 session of ICCFA University, held July 18-23 at the University of Memphis, experienced one of its largest enrollment rates ever with 182 paid attendees.


ICCFA University is considered the flagship educational conference that the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association holds annually. Students enroll in a five-day, rigorous classroom experience taught by industry veterans and outside-the-industry experts. They choose to attend one of seven colleges:


  • 21st Century Services
  • Cremation Services
  • Embalming, Restorative Art & Other Care
  • Funeral Home Management
  • Land Management & Grounds Operations
  • Leadership, Administration & Management
  • J. Asher Neel College of Sales & Marketing

After attending four years, a student may “graduate” and call his/herself an “ICCFA University graduate.” Similar to higher education institutions, a valedictorian is chosen by the group of graduating seniors. For the first time ever, co-valedictorians were chosen:


  • Rich Winter, Letum, Inc., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Becca Ehlert, Pinelawn Memorial Park & Mausoleum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

And after three years at the helm, the term of ICCFA University chancellor Ernie Heffner, CFuE, Heffner Funeral Chapel & Crematory, York, Pennsylvania, has expired. Heffner was appointed to the role of chancellor in 2011 and served an extended three-year term. ICCFA president I. Frederick Lappin, CCE, recognizes Heffner’s outstanding leadership.


“Ernie has done a superb job in helping to manage, grow and enhance the quality of the overall ICCFA University experience,” Lappin said. “I, on behalf of the association’s members, thank him for his time and energy in putting together a program that has become a gem within the profession.”

Attendees consistently rate ICCFA University very highly, with 94 percent indicating their overall experience was “very satisfactory,” and the remaining 6 percent rating it “somewhat satisfactory.” Some comments from this year’s surveys include:

  • “The educational experience provided to the students of the ICCFAU is the best of its kind in the death care profession today. I say that knowing that a student can walk through the doors the first year with nothing more than a desire to learn, but leave after four years with a diverse awareness of our industry having learned from top industry professionals. They may then take that back to their own communities to better serve customers.” Chris Cooke, Evansville City Cemeteries, Evansville, Indiana
  • “The five years I have attended the university provided the foundation to do more than I could have ever anticipated with my career. It provided me with the tools to implement change and to take a leap. I have gained a tremendous amount of self-confidence and have learned such a wide spectrum of knowledge. My networking connections are invaluable.” Debbie Budke, Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • “I am relatively new to the death care industry and I never thought there was much life in it. The people at ICCFA are energetic, forward-focused and a lot of fun. Combine those attributes with a first-class educational experience and you have a winner. I’ll be back.” Rick Brittain, Sunset Memorial Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • “After attending conferences for more than 20 years, ICCFAU has lived up to the hype. Every day I found nuggets of information that I can put to use every day at my workplace. ICCFAU is great, sustainable and should be a MUST DO for any owner or manager to push their company forward.” David Patterson, Global Mortuary Affairs LLC, Dallas, Texas

The 2015 session of ICCFA University will take place July 17-22, again at the University of Memphis. Scholarship applications will be posted online at this fall.

Founded in 1887, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association is the only international trade association representing all segments of the cemetery, cremation, funeral and memorialization profession. Its membership is composed of more than 8,900 rooftop locations and 15,000 professionals in the cemetery, funeral home and crematory industries, as well as supplier and related businesses worldwide.