2021 Cremation Rocks Awards: Winners Announced!

Funeral Industry News January 5, 2022
2021 Cremation Rocks Awards
Aries Jo

Aries (they/them) is a certified Celebrant and the Director of Outreach and Education at Parting Stone where they create forward-thinking content for funeral professionals. Aries leads the Death Curious online community and hosts the Death Curious podcast. Learn more about Parting Stone and their complete alternative to cremated remains here.

2021 Cremation Rocks Awards: Winners Announced!

You nominated, the judges evaluated, and the results are finally in for the 2021 Cremation Rocks Awards! We are so excited to announce the winners of the first annual Cremation Rocks Awards below! 

The 2021 Cremation Rocks Awards recognize innovation in the deathcare space by promoting individuals and businesses with forward-thinking missions who are changing the future of deathcare with revolutionary ideas, projects, and technologies. 2021 was a big year in deathcare, with the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic being just one of the major drivers in the evolution of this profession. These awards seek to recognize major influences and leaders that have emerged in the deathcare space over the past year. 

Winners of the 2021 Cremation Rocks Awards were selected by our panel of distinguished judges: Barbara Kemmis, Executive Director at CANA; Larry Stuart of Cremation Strategies and Consulting; Sandra Walker, Vice President of Strategic Business at Fairmount Memorial; and Justin Crowe, CEO at Parting Stone. *Note: For any category in which a nominee had a direct connection to or conflict of interest with one of the judges, that judge dismissed themselves from deliberation and voting. 

There are eight 2021 Cremation Rocks Award categories, Eco Consciousness, Social Justice & Equity, Marketing, Branding, Education, Research, Experience Creation, and Deathcare Rock Star of the Year. Each award recognizes an essential area of progress in the deathcare space. These areas are the eight keys to success in the death profession, and are vital for moving the deathcare profession forward.

Eco-Consciousness Winner: Darren Crouch of Passages International

The Eco-Consciousness award recognizes an individual or company with an environmentally focused mission, that has made significant contributions to reducing Deathcare’s carbon footprint, educating the public on green options in deathcare, and developing eco-conscious deathcare initiatives. 

Darren Crouch, President of Passages International

Darren Crouch, President of Passages International has made huge strides in bringing eco-consciousness and green funeral care options to the deathcare space. Named “The Face of Eco-Friendly Caskets and Biodegradable Urns” by Kates-Boylston Publications in 2020, Darren has played a lead role in educating the deathcare profession about how to meet the needs of the rising population of eco-conscious death planners today, and how to make greener choices in deathcare businesses. 

The Passages International website states, “Passages International, Inc. was founded in 1999, when the demand for greener funerals was at its earliest stage. With green funerals now mainstream, Passages is dedicated to providing sustainable choices that allow families to have a unique, meaningful and healing funeral experience. We are a family owned and operated business, and our environmentally-friendly products are designed to let families and funeral homes create a funeral that truly honors a loved one, meets their values, and celebrates their life.”

Passages International designs and produces many of the forward-thinking eco-friendly products that they offer, including many products that use packaging and shipping methods which significantly lower deathcare’s carbon footprint. Passages International is recognized by such organizations as Green America, and is a member of the Green Burial Council. 

Social Justice & Equity Winner: Dr. Sara Murphy and Tim McLoone

The Social Justice and Equity Award is for a person or company that has made progressive strides towards creating an equitable deathcare space for all humans. 

Dr. Sara Murphy and Tim McLoone are bringing the deathcare profession forward by opening and continuing vital conversation around the importance of recognizing and serving LGBTQ+ death planning families with respect and dignity.

At the 2021 NFDA Convention in Nashville, TN, Dr. Sara Murphy and Tim McLoone presented a continuing education lecture titled “Connecting with the LGBTQ+ Community” which discussed the importance of serving and supporting LGBTQIA+ families and educated funeral professionals on the terminology and history of that community. Their lecture held space for voices from all backgrounds and perspectives, while eloquently presenting facts, experiences, and examples. Research shows that a large number of deathcare professionals are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and recognizing these professionals, as well as creating safe, supportive spaces for all families in our funeral businesses is necessary for future success in the deathcare space. 

Dr. Sara Murphy is a death educator, certified thanatologist (Association for Death Education and Counseling), and suicidologist with fifteen years of scholarly, pedagogical, and professional experience in the field. She is a faculty member at the University of Rhode Island and an affiliate faculty member in the Thanatology Graduate Program at Marian University. 

2021 Cremation Rocks Awards
Dr. Sara Murphy, Certified Thanatologist, Suicideologist, Faculty Member at University of Rhode Island, etc.

Timothy McLoone is a Licensed Funeral Director & Certified Celebrant at William R. May Funeral Home, Inc. in Glenside, PA.

2021 Cremation Rocks Awards
Timothy McLoone, Licensed Funeral Director and Certified Celebrant at William R. May Funeral Home Inc.

Best Marketing Winner: Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

The Best Marketing Award will go to a company that has created the most effective marketing campaign in the deathcare sector, including multimedia, social media, and other marketing initiatives.

Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY was selected as this year’s Best Marketing winner for their beautifully designed and easy to navigate website as well as their marketing of the educational, historic, and artistic events and programs that take place at their cemetery. Green-Wood gracefully educates the community about the cemetery’s history while offering easy to access educational materials and community programming like bird watching, trolley tours, and artist residencies… all while being an active cemetery. Green-Wood’s excellent marketing skillfully positions it as a historic legacy and an active member of the Brooklyn community. 

Green-Wood Cemetery’s Website

Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful and storied burial grounds in the world. Founded in 1838 and now designated a National Historic Landmark, Green-Wood boasts 478 spectacular acres of winding paths, glacial ponds, and hilly terrain. The Cemetery offers in-ground burial (traditional and green burial), entombment, crypts, columbaria, and niches. Its onsite crematory and chapels have garnered rave reviews for their design and the dignified experience they provide to families. Further, Green-Wood offers over 250 public events and tours throughout the year. It also hosts free programs on death education, including its popular Death Café events, which are moderated, safe, and open exchanges on the topic of death. Every year, over 450,000 visitors come to Green-Wood Cemetery.

Best Branding Winner: Oklahoma City Cremation

The Best Branding Award is for the company with the strongest design elements which communicate clearly and are helping shift public opinion about deathcare. 

Darin Corbett of Oklahoma City Cremation has revolutionized temporary cremation containers  by redesigning the standard black box to intentionally meet the needs of today’s cremation families. The resulting Custom Transport Container that Oklahoma City Cremation uses is not only more comfortable and easy to use, is better for transportation, and is recyclable, but it’s highly branded design is cutting-edge in the deathcare space. 

Oklahoma City Cremation’s Beautifully Branded Custom Transport Urn

Darin uses a custom vacuum seal labeling system to create beautiful labels for each custom transport container that prominently display the Oklahoma City Cremation logo and branding. 

Darin Corbett of Oklahoma City Cremation

Oklahoma City Cremation’s logo in and of itself is well designed. It is bright and inviting, yet  simple and direct, which lets families know immediately what they can expect when they choose the company for their cremation needs. This clear, concise, and aesthetically pleasing branding stands out in the deathcare profession. 

Education Award: Joél Simone Anthony

The Education award is for an outstanding educator who is shaping the future of deathcare by sharing forward-thinking, important information with the profession.

As a licensed funeral director, life insurance agent, sacred grief practitioner, public speaker, ambassador, and death care educator, Joél Simone Anthony, also known as The Grave Woman, is a force of nature in the deathcare profession. In particular, Joél’s role as a deathcare educator has consistently earned recognition throughout this space. Her decade of experience in deathcare and expertise in education make her courses unique, thorough, and positioned at the cutting edge of deathcare education. Joél offers both live online CE webinars and self study CE courses through her website, covering important topics such as: Self Care for Death Care Professionals, Racism in Deathcare 1.0 and 2.0, Cultural Competency: Black Hair and Skin Care for Non-Ethnic Funeral Professionals, Surviving Mortuary School, Spiritual End of Life and Funeral Planning 101, and so many more. 

2021 Cremation Rocks Awards
Joél Simone Anthony, The Grave Woman, Deathcare Educator, Licensed Funeral Director, Sacred Grief Practitioner, etc.

Joél’s important work in funeral and grief education is helping to shape the future of deathcare. Her experience and expertise are helping to guide deathcare professionals and grieving families alike to more intentional, equitable, and purposeful experiences with death, dying, grieving, and mourning. 

Research Award: Homesteaders Life Company and CANA for their collaboration on The Cremation Experience

The Research award will go to the individual or institution that has uncovered the most groundbreaking discovery in the deathcare sector in the past year. 

In May 20219, Homesteaders Life Company and CANA set out to explore the truth about cremation from women who personally made cremation arrangements for a loved one with “The Cremation Experience” research project. The goal of the project was to dig behind multiple choice responses to the question “Why?” and uncover motivations in an attempt to understand the cremation experience from beginning to end. 

2021 cremation rocks awards

This groundbreaking research has helped the entire funeral profession better understand why modern families are choosing cremation more frequently, shedding light on the steadily increasing national cremation rate in the US. Valuable insights like families wanting more flexibility, simplicity, and connection in death planning and a desire to focus more on the person and life-lived instead of the body were drawn from this enlightening consumer research. 

Experience Creation Award: InSight Institute

The Experience Creation Award will go to a person or business who is leading the way in creating immersive, meaningful experiences for families. 

InSight Institute was selected for the Experience Creation Award because of the countless families they have helped through the grieving experience through their grief care books and Celebrant certification program. Overall, this institution has had a huge impact in bringing grief support and education to the forefront of the deathcare profession.

2021 Cremation Rocks Awards

Founded in 1983 by Doug Manning after the success of his first two books on grieving, InSight has grown over the years and now specializes in books, video and audio productions specifically designed to help people face some of the toughest challenges of life. The company has also expanded into the InSight Institute which is the training arm of the company, providing Funeral Celebrant Training and other seminar and training opportunities during the year.

According to the InSight Institute’s website, “InSight Books and the In-Sight Institute have one mission: Helping People Help People. This has evolved over the years, expanding from our grief care books and seminars across the country to include Celebrant training and certification.

Along the way, founder and author Doug Manning expanded his writings to include advice on elder care, a growing issue with the steady rise of the Baby Boomers as they face caring for their aging loved ones.”

Deathcare Rockstar of the Year: Glenda Stansbury

The Deathcare Rock Star of the Year Award is for an individual deathcare professional who is a disruptor and innovator who is pushing the deathcare space forward by serving families’ needs with new ideas, strategies, and initiatives. 

Glenda Stansbury is the Marketing & Development Director of InSight Books, and Co-Founder and Dean of InSight Institute Certified Celebrant Program. Glenda joined InSight in 1996 and has worked as an educator, teacher trainer, and seminar developer. She is a practicing Celebrant, dean of the College of 21st Century Services at ICCFA University, adjunct professor at the University of Central Oklahoma Funeral Department and is a licensed funeral director/embalmer. Her legacy is centered around training celebrants to build personalized memorial services for families who are looking for alternatives to clergy-led memorials, or are not affiliated with a church.

Glenda Stansbury, Marketing and Development Director of InSight Books, Co-Founder and Dean of InSight Institute Certified Celebrant Program

According to a recent article on the ICCFA website announcing Glenda’s honor as recipient of this year’s ICCFA Educational Foundation Lasting Impact Award, “Under her guidance, she has trained over 4,665 celebrants with an estimated 7.5 million individuals who have witnessed the impact of a ceremony performed by one of her trainees.”

Tim McLoone, one of Glenda’s former students explains that, “Glenda always keeps the families we serve as a central focus in all that she does and continues to be dedicated, day in and day out, to ensure that those of us within the profession never settle and give families our all in everything we do.” 

Glenda was selected from a strong list of nominees as Deathcare Rock Star of the Year for her dedication to the expansion of education, empathy, and compassion in the deathcare profession. Her work with InSight books and the InSight Institute over the past few decades has touched many lives, positively influenced many deathcare professionals, and has helped countless people in their grief experiences.

Congratulations to all of the 2021 Cremation Rocks Awards Winners!!!