Transformational Funeral Service:
 A Funeral Director's Guide

Gaining A Competitive Edge


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Old School Business Tactics in a Digital World

Posted on April 26, 2019 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (1)

One habit that should never change in funeral service is letter writing. It would be difficult to find a person who does not appreciate receiving a hand-written letter or note.

Unfortunately, in this day of word processors and email, combined with busy schedules, these are becoming dinosaurs.

Enter the roller-ball pen and a copying machine for sending letters to those who have served as pallbearers, musicians and clergy for services at our firms.

The following offers a means of sending out countless personalized notes on a daily basis:

Step one: Place a plain sheet of paper, the same size as your stationery, on a smooth writing surface;

Step two: Write a generic note on the paper with a roller ball pen (this will match copying machine ink); Do not use a ball point pen!

Step three: Copy your generic note on to your stationery (adjust bright to darkness to match accordingly on copier);

Step four: Personalize date, salutation and appropriate inserts;

Step five: Use envelope previously addressed by recipient. Place commemorative stamp in upper right and mail.

In the case of formal letters:

A. Use a high quality stationery, such as Cranes copper engraved;

B. Wax seals are rare, but peel-and-stick gold foil monogrammed labels (available at Papyrus stores) can be effective.

C. Sign with a fountain pen using real ink of a different color than black;

D. Never send a letter before it is edited by a reliable person;

E. Use commemorative stamps without fail (the older the better);

F. Mail to the person who has addressed an envelope to themselves.

Other stock:

Note Cards;

Note paper;

Post cards;

Personalized post-it notes;

Triple carbon forms;

Fine linen stationery personally engraved

Other writing tools:

Pens, pencils, marking pens

Colored pencil

China Marker

Retractable styles

Logo pencil #2 lead

Retractable Bic ball point


Capped roller ball red ink *

Capped Bic ball point

Four color Bic ball point

Capped Bic ball point without pocket clip

Capped Bic roller ball with pocket clip

Classic retractable ball point with logo

Referee pencil with cap and eraser

Capped yellow highlighter

Erasable marker


Crayons **

*Do not use on glossy register book pages – the ink will smear!

** Number one selling toy of all-time.

The above is taken from the pages of Gaining a Competitive Edge Through Transformational Funeral Service by Frank C. Dawson, CFSP. PO Box 888, East Liverpool OH 43920

Writing the Obituary

Posted on April 26, 2019 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

There are still a few funeral service professionals on the planet who can remember when newspapers had reporters who would actually craft obituaries. Enter the computer and the paid obituary inspiring families to place any and all information about the deceased in a final tribute which in many cases out-shines the actual funeral ceremony itself.

This can range from, “growing the largest tomato plant in the neighborhood” to the person who “read the Bible every day – and their favorite sentence, verse, chapter was (yes, some will insert the verbiage regardless of the cost).

Here are a few tips from journalism 101. Refer to the five “W’s” without fail

WHO (Spell the name correctly and use the first name only once in each paragraph)

WHAT (Nature of the death)

WHEN (Day, Date and Time of Death)

WHERE (Don’t guess)

WHY (Consider burying the lead.) This occurs when the opening portion of the story does not quickly identify the subject. For example: Known for his quiet, dignified manner, he was often referred to as the father of modern trash dumping, but few people knew the man behind the myth, nor understood his theories.

None of these objections concerned Dr. John Doe, who died at his Jethro Hollow residence on Tuesday, following a long illness


BE COOL is an acronym used to assist in an orderly incorporation of the details in composing an obituary from this point down to the service details:

B – birthplace

E – education

C – church membership

O – occupation

O – organizations belonged to

L – left behind (survivors)


A snowcap is any term or expression, (not to be confused with an epigraph) which describes the deceased. It can be spiritual in nature, for example: went to be with the Lord, or surrounded by his family.

Another snowcap could be a mention of a life experience such as: John Doe, the man who lived in a cave throughout his adult life, died Tuesday at City Hospital where he was admitted last week.


An epigraph (not to be confused with an epitaph) is a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document. The epigraph may serve as a preface or to link its words to the story, either to invite comparison or to lead into its content.

An example used in an obituary would be a first line that read: Across the fields of yesterday, he sometimes comes to me; the little lad of two or three, the lad I used to be.

John Doe, a longtime advocate for the youth of Hard City, died Tuesday at Union Hospital from complications of heart failure.



An epitaph is an expression which normally appears on a tombstone, but could also be used as part of a eulogy.


Avoid beginning every sentence with “He or She was born. He or She worked at. He or she wrote several books…” Rather “Born in Hard City, Nebraska (do not abbreviate state names) on July 4, 1776, he was the author of the Declaration of Independence and belonged to several lodges including Elks Lodge 122, Lodge 315 F&AM and along with the Al Koran Shrine of Cleveland.


With the coming of age of the “paid obituary,” survivors can control the manner in which a death is reported.

In the case of a suicide it may simply be stated: died on Tuesday at Hard City, Ohio.