California attorney general sues Neptune Society, claiming $100 million taken from prepaid cremation customers

The California attorney general filed a lawsuit earlier this month against the Neptune Society, alleging $100 million was “swindled” from customers who prepaid for cremations.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and three Bay Area prosecutors claim that the Neptune Society and its subsidiary Trident Society broke state laws by failing to hold more than $100 million in a fully refundable trust for customers who signed up for prepaid cremation services.

The lawsuit alleges that the Neptune Society should have kept the money in reserve for  prepaid cremation customers.

“As a result, many of the company’s customers failed to get full refunds if they canceled their contracts, and thousands of other prepaid customers could also lose their money if they cancel,” said a recent story in the Los Angeles Times.

The story reported that the well-known company also falsely claimed to use its own crematoriums when in fact it contracted with others and illegally accelerated payments when customers died, among other misleading business practices.

The company is “swindling customers who were simply trying to look out for their families and prepare for one of life’s most difficult moments,” the attorney general said in a statement.

Beth Dombrowa, a spokeswoman for Neptune and its parent company, Texas-based Service Corp. International, said she could not immediately comment, the L.A. Times reported.

The lawsuit claims that “the Service Corporation International subsidiaries deceive purchasers of a standard package of cremation and merchandise, typically costing $2,500, by leading them to believe that all of their money is refundable.”

The suit alleges Neptune steered 99% of customers to its Standard Neptune Plan, which included both cremation services and related funeral services “products” but then illegally kept about half the money because it was earmarked for products

Neptune thus deceived consumers who thought all their money was protected, as required by California law, the lawsuit claims.

“Consumers should expect the money paid toward future funeral needs will be fully protected and available to pay for the necessary services when the need ultimately arises so family and loved ones are not further burdened,” Marin County Dist. Atty. Lori Frugoli said in a statement, the L.A. Times reported.

Service Corp. International and its subsidiaries are North America’s largest provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services, including in the Metro Vancouver area.

The lawsuit noted that nearly two-thirds of people in California choose to be cremated, with many choosing to prepay for those services through companies such as Neptune.

The suit seeks civil fines and court orders requiring Neptune and Trident to put the full amount of money collected in the past into trusts and to stop the allegedly deceptive practices.

Neptune Society was established in 1973 in Florida and was purchased by SCI in 2011. It is known as Trident Society in six California locations.

At Sept. 30, of this year, Service Corp. International says it owns and operates 1,477 funeral service locations and 483 cemeteries in 44 states, eight Canadian provinces and Puerto Rico. It markets its services under the “Dignity” brand.

SCI was founded in 1962 by Robert L. Waltrip, a licensed funeral director who grew up in his family’s funeral business; he still serves as chairman of  SCI’s board of directors.

Both SCI and Neptune Society have faced numerous lawsuits in the past.

In 1988, Neptune Society reached a $32-million settlement involving 5,000 plaintiffs who claimed the cremated remains of their deceased relatives were “unceremoniously dumped” in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

In 2014, SCI and its Eden Memorial Park cemetery in California reached an $80.5 million out-of-court settlement with families who claimed the cemetery disturbed the remains of loved ones to fit more deceased in graves.

SCI also reached a $100-million settlement in 2003 involving a class-action filed by families who claimed the remains of their loved ones had been desecrated at two Menorah Gardens cemeteries in Florida.

 

 

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Funeral director’s licence revoked for re-using caskets in Nova Scotia

The funeral director of the Chant funeral home had her licence revoked. The funeral home had a suspicious fire earlier this year, destroying all records, while under investigation after consumer complaints. CBC photo

A funeral director in Sydney, Nova Scotia has had her licence revoked after an investigation found the funeral home was reusing caskets up to six times and failing to put money for prepaid funerals into a trust account.

The Nova Scotia Board of Registration of Embalmers and Funeral Directors held an inquiry last month into complaints against Jillian Nemis, a funeral director at S.W. Chant & Son Funeral Home.

After the inquiry concluded, the board decided last week to immediately revoke Nemis’s licence, according to a recent CBC story.

“I think it’s safe to say that I speak on behalf of all board members and the funeral profession when I say that I am absolutely shocked and disappointed by the choices made by this funeral director and the funeral home, particularly when you consider their position of trust with families,” board chair Adam Tiper told the Truro News in Nova Scotia.

Chant’s Funeral Home had closed 10 months earlier following a suspicious fire, which destroyed all records.

The funeral home had been facing an investigation over complaints related to prepaid funerals. After the fire, police later announced no fraud charges would be laid.

In its decision on Nemis, the board probed a complaint made in fall 2018 that Chant’s was reusing traditional caskets multiple times.

Purchasers paid Chant $1,375 for the use of a rental casket and wooden insert but were instead placed in a traditional casket for the funeral, the complaint alleged.

The deceased were then removed and placed in a cardboard cremation container, instead of being cremated in the wooden insert, the complaint stated, alleging the used casket was then cleaned of any stains and fluids so it could be used again.

Former funeral home employees testified it was common practice for the home to charge a rental fee for a rental casket, then place the remains in a traditional casket that was later cleaned for reuse.

Three witnesses said the practice was ordered by funeral home owner Sheldon Chant and Nemis had helped clean the caskets and move the remains.

Nemis denied the allegations, saying she often cleaned caskets of dust and water stains but not to be reused.

The inquiry also probed $315,000 taken from 102 purchasers for prepaid funerals in 2018 and 2019 – the money was not placed in a trust account, which is required by the Cemetery and Funeral Services Act.

The inquiry heard that money for prepaid funerals would be placed in an office drawer at the instruction of Chant, who then picked up the money.

The board concluded that Nemis, as the funeral director in charge of the funeral home, should have known placing the money in a drawer for the owner to pick up was a negligent practice.

In its decision, the inquiry found the funeral home engaged in “misrepresentation and fraud” while Nemis was the funeral director in charge.

The board found the practice of reusing traditional caskets meant that families did not get the casket inserts they had purchased. It also found loved ones were placed in traditional caskets that had been previously used as many as six times, possibly more.

“Once we started to dive into that part of the investigation, the suspicious fire had already occurred at the funeral home and of course the records were destroyed,” Tipert said.

He said he had confidence that the majority working in the funeral industry are professionals who understand the rules and regulations around prepaid funerals and the proper use of caskets.

Chant’s funeral home licence was suspended after the fire. The owner also surrendered his funeral director’s licence and embalmer’s licence.

The inquiry also found that Nemis provided funeral director services for an unlicensed home when she arranged a funeral service after Chant’s licence had been suspended.

The revocation of Nemis’s licence means she cannot work as a funeral director in Nova Scotia. She has three months to appeal the decision.

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After almost 50 years in the funeral business, Thomas Crean releases new book

Tom Crean is an expert on the funeral business, having spent almost 50 years working in funeral service. Now he’s written a book, It’$ Your Funeral: How Grieving Families Are Being Exploited, and How We Can Stop It.

The book provides an insider’s view of the funeral industry and is an extension of his consumer advocacy and public education that he’s known for.

In the late 1990s he led a movement to save Vancouver’s only public cemetery—Mountain View—from privatization. He also helped organize 4,000 independent funeral firms to defeat Houston-based funeral giant Service Corporation International’s attempt to trademark the phrase “family funeral care.”

Today he is both president of the Family Funeral Home Association and the Surrey  Hospice Society , and his latest project has been developing a radically new cemetery concept —a cooperative —while creating the first new cemetery in fifty years in the Metro Vancouver area of British Columbia.

Called Heritage Gardens Cemetery, it is an approved green burial provider, certified by the Green Burial Society of Canada.

You can meet Crean at the book launch on Monday Nov. 25th, noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Anvil Centre, located at 777 Columbia Street in New Westminster.

More information on Crean and his new book can be found here.

Below is an article published in the latest issue of Common Ground:

Thomas P. J. Crean certainly has an end-of-life story to tell.
In November 2019, he published It’s Your Funeral: How Grieving Families Are Being Exploited, and How We Can Stop It.

It is a timely piece of nonfiction intended to educate people about the funeral business.

Crean is the grandson of Thomas James Kearney, who founded Kearney Funeral Services in Vancouver, in 1908. Crean became president of the company 70 years later. At the time, in the late 1970s, funeral-and-cemetery service was loosely regulated in BC, and the two largest North American funeral conglomerates were buying out nearly all the family-owned funeral homes. Profitability was their sole objective, and the exploitation of grieving families became part of the playbook.

Crean, disturbed by the conglomerates’ tactics, became involved in con-
sumer advocacy and public education.

He has testified before funeral industry regulators in Ottawa, New York and Washington, DC. He has also addressed numerous funeral associations and sustainable-business groups, including the American Sustainable Business Council and the American Independent Business Alliance.

By 1996, the chains were handling more than 80 percent of funeral arrangements in Greater Vancouver. That year, Crean led a successful movement to save the management of Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver’s only cemetery, from privatization. He then organized 4,000 independent funeral firms to prevent Service Corporation International – in Canada and the US – from trademarking the phrase “family funeral care.” In 2004, Crean joined the Surrey Hospice Society Board. Working with the dying and their caregivers helped him further understand the ways in which the corporate funeral chains
manipulated people when at their most vulnerable, especially by garnering all the influence possible with the “end-of-life” caregiver community.

In April of 2012 the BC Funeral Service Association celebrated its 100th Anniversary.
The Kearney-Crean family was honored as being the only founding member still in business. A few years later, Crean left the family business to devote himself to fighting the predatory and monopolistic practices of the funeral conglomerates.

Crean has served on the boards of many civic and professional organi-
zations. A past-president of the Rotary Club of Vancouver, he is now president of the Surrey Hospice Society board and the Family Funeral Home Association. He also serves on the boards of the Partners In Care Alliance Society and Cooperative, the BC Association for Media Education, the Family Association for Media Education, and the Canadian Institute for Information and Privacy Studies.

In 2016, Crean acquired land in South Surrey, BC, rezoning it into the first new cemetery in BC’s Lower Mainland in 50 years. In 2018, along with family members and other investors, he opened Heritage Gardens Cemetery. It offers compassionate guidance and sustainable, reasonably priced alternatives to traditional burial and cremation.

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Alberta Justice ministry probes CBC video of funeral home worker dragging body

The CBC has posted a disturbing video online of a funeral home worker in Edmonton dragging a body from a refrigerated trailer where bodies were being stored.

Click here to see the CBC story and the video.

A CBC news reporter witnessed the incident on Monday Sept. 9, 2019, and posted the story and video the next day.

CBC reported that a man in dark clothing searched inside the darkened refrigerated trailer for the body he had come to collect. “A source told CBC News the man was a funeral home employee.”

Seventeen bodies, sheathed in white bags, lined the floor of the refrigerated semi-trailer parked in a lot behind the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in south Edmonton.

Once the funeral home worker found the body bag he was looking for, he grabbed the foot end with both hands ande dragged the body about half the trailer’s length.

After climbing down a ladder, he tugged on the body repeatedly to slide it onto an elevated gurney.

CBC said the Office of the Medical Examiner (OCME) took the unusual step of renting a refrigerated trailer to store bodies, in response to a sudden influx that overwhelmed the Edmonton facility’s storage capacity.

“Dignity is expected to be shown at all times to the deceased, and the OCME guidelines appear to not have been followed,” Dan Laville, a spokesperson for Alberta Justice, told CBC News.

“It is always a priority of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to ensure the deceased in their care are treated with the utmost dignity and respect. The claims of how one of the deceased in our care was handled are very concerning, and we are currently investigating.”

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer told CBC he was disturbed by what he saw on the video.

“All Albertans, living or deceased, have the right to be treated with dignity, and any disrespect for the deceased or their loved ones is not reflective of our values,” Schweitzer said.

“I have directed my department to investigate the matter and have been assured by the chief medical examiner that additional steps are being taken to ensure that the deceased are treated with the respect they deserve.”

The Alberta Justice ministry has launched an investigation into the incident, and issued an apology to families:

“First and foremost, we extend our apologies to all families who entrust their loved ones to us. The importance of your loved one is why their dignified and respectful treatment is so important to us, and why multiple steps are being taken to ensure this treatment is provided to every deceased person in our care.”

Consumer Protection BC has online information for consumers about the requirements of funeral homes in B.C. Click here to read about those rights.

“Making funeral arrangements can be overwhelming and very difficult, whether you are planning ahead or not,” says the Consumer Protection website.

“Certain aspects of funerals services are regulated in BC to protect you during a vulnerable time. Funeral homes and funeral directors must hold a licence with us, be trained and meet certain requirements.”

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Class action begins today against cemetery in Tennessee

A class-action lawsuit will begin a hearing today in a Tennessee court involving disturbing allegations that the remains of hundreds of people were mishandled.

Opening statements are expected from the lawyers representing relatives about 1,200 deceased, who claim the remains of their loved ones were not handled with dignity but were instead put in graves where other people had been buried and caskets were crushed to make room for more.

The lawsuit also claims some bodies were lost at the Galilee Memorial Gardens cemetery, which was shut down in 2014.

The class-action also alleges that licensed funeral homes sent bodies to Galilee cemetery for three years after the cemetery said its registration expired in December 2010.

More than a dozen Memphis-area funeral homes allegedly failed to carry out their “sacred and contractual duties” for vulnerable, mourning relatives who expected their loved ones to be interred with dignity, according to an Associated Press story that ran Sept. 3 in the Chillicothe Gazette.

The news story said investigations revealed that Galilee’s owners, the Lambert family, misplaced hundreds of bodies, buried multiple cadavers in the same grave, and crushed caskets to fit them into single plots for years.

The funeral homes deny allegations of breach of contract, negligence and infliction of emotional distress. They claim they did not violate customers’ contracts and did not have a contractual relationship with Galilee. The funeral homes argue they had no duty to monitor Galilee’s licensing and are not liable for the cemetery’s actions.

Jemar Lambert, who took over the cemetery’s operations after his father died, received 10 years’ probation in a plea deal with state prosecutors for his role in the mishandling of burials. He left behind disorganized records and many families who don’t know where their loved ones are buried. Galilee is also a defendant in the lawsuit.

UPDATED 2019: A jury found Galilee 99% responsible and awarded $7,500 for each body – roughly $9 million.  However, last August a class-action lawsuit was filed against the lead attorney representing the 1,200 plaintiffs in the case, alleging legal malpractice. The lawsuit claims the lead attorney “refused to entertain, respond to, and accept over $25 million in settlement offers made by the Funeral Home Defendants during the trial…” The defendants deny the allegations,

More information on the plaintiffs’ complaints and court filings is here: http://galileememorialabuse.com/

 

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Funeral board decides to tighten rules after tragic mixup, resulting in accidental cremation

The Serenity Funeral Home in Berwick, Nova Scotia. Source: Google Maps.

A funeral board in Nova Scotia has decided to tighten rules after a woman was accidentally cremated during a tragic mixup of bodies.

The Nova Scotia Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors also decided to revoke the licence of funeral director David Farmer, who was was responsible for mistakenly cremating the body of  65-year-old Sandra Bennett.

To make matters worse, the body of 96-year-old Myrtle Wilson was embalmed and presented as Bennett during a family visitation last Dec. 27, which shocked the family.

Bennett’s sister, Carolyn Dominey, said the family planned to have an open casket service, but when they looked inside, they saw the body of another woman dressed in Bennett’s clothing.

“I was shocked,” Dominey told reporter Aly Thomson of The Canadian Press. “It’s like they degraded my sister’s body against her wishes.”

Dominey and her daughter, JoAnne, said staff at the Serenity Funeral Home in Berwick, N.S., insisted the woman in the casket was Bennett. When they realized it wasn’t, the family says they were presented with another body in the casket purchased by Bennett’s husband, Gary. It wasn’t Bennett.

The family was then told that Bennett had been mistakenly cremated.

Geoff MacLellan, the Nova Scotia cabinet minister responsible for issuing licences to funeral homes, earlier called the funeral home’s mistake unacceptable.

“Losing somebody and a death in the family is the hardest thing you’ll go through. It takes every bit of your strength mentally, emotionally and physically just to deal with the process,” he told The Canadian Press.

“To have this happen and impact these families in this way is tragic, it’s devastating, and quite frankly from the government’s perspective, it’s unacceptable.”

MacLellan ordered an investigation, which concluded earlier this month that the funeral director made the mistake so his licence was revoked.

The funeral board also asked the province to require all funeral home staff to identify a body before it’s transported, and called for fines similar to other jurisdictions (including British Columbia) and recommended more open hearings for professional misconduct.

MacLellan responded to the report by saying he hopes to bring in legislative changes soon.

“We’re going to get working immediately on the legislative piece and any other regulatory aspects so we’ve fully implemented what they (the board) have asked us to do,” he said.

In B.C., there are laws protecting consumers when purchasing funeral services. Those consumer rights are available online.

One of the laws protecting consumers is that funeral homes must present a price list to customers for funeral services

Consumer Protection BC also investigates complaints against funeral service providers and takes enforcement action when service providers are not in compliance.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Zealand seniors form Coffin Clubs to have fun and save money

Here’s a good news story for a change.

New Zealand seniors are forming Coffin Clubs to build their own coffins, adding their personal style with paint and other decorations for when the time comes when they might need to use it.

The do-it-yourself movement began in 2010, started by a palliative care nurse, Katie Williams, in a makeshift workshop in her garage in Rotorua, on the North Island. She got some volunteer handymen to help local seniors build their own coffins — they are made from particleboard kits and are shaped like traditional caskets or as rectangles.

“Because of my work and my age I had become a perpetual mourner,” Williams told The Guardian newspaper.

Katie Williams, founder of the Kiwi Coffin Club, with her coffin.
Katie Williams, founder of the Kiwi Coffin Club, with her coffin. Photograph: Katie Williams

“I had seen lots of people dying and their funerals were nothing to do with the vibrancy and life of those people,” she said. “You would not know what they were really like. That they had lived and laughed and loved. I had a deep-seated feeling that people’s journey’s deserved a more personal farewell.”

“I’m going down with Elvis,” says this Coffin Club member.

There are now more than a dozen coffin clubs in New Zealand. Seniors found it was fun painting and decorating their own coffins and a great way for many lonely seniors to socialize with others in the same age group, many of whom had loved one pass away.

“We like to say it is only a box until you put someone in it,” one woman told the New York Times in a story published earlier this year.

The boxes can also double as furniture at home — one woman uses hers as a seating area with cushions.

The coffin kits cost about $170, much less than what a funeral home charges for a coffin of similar quality. Club membership ranges from $7 to $17 a year.

 

 

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U.S. survey reveals biggest funeral chain’s prices were “significantly higher” than independent rivals

 

The largest funeral chain across Canada and the U.S., Service Corp International (SCI) has recently come under scrutiny.

A report done this year by the U.S.-based Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Consumer Federation of America found that median prices at SCI funeral homes in the U.S. for basic funeral services were “significantly higher” — as much as 72 percent higher in some instances  — when compared to the prices of independent funeral homes.

“Although media reports on SCI often described the company as the ‘Wal-Mart’ of funeral service, economies of scale don’t translate into cost savings for consumers,” Funeral Consumers Alliance executive director Josh Slocum said when the report was released.

“Quite the opposite,” he added, noting SCI uses “anti-consumer practices including relatively high prices that it fails to disclose adequately, aggressive sales that push customers to upgrade products purchased, and sloppy service that have led to court settlements as large as $80 million.”

The survey looked at the prices of 103 funeral homes in major metropolitan areas across the U.S., then compared prices at 35 SCI funeral homes in the same cities.

The survey examined the prices of three types of service found at every funeral home: a simple cremation, a simple burial, and a full service traditional funeral with a viewing of the body.

The survey found SCI funeral homes charge a median price of $2,700 for a simple cremation, compared with $1,562 for independent funeral homes.

Burial services at SCI funeral homes had a median price of $2,845, compared with $1,893 for independents.

Full service funerals cost a median $7,705 at SCI funeral homes, compared with $5,241 at independent funeral homes.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s “Funeral Rule” requires all funeral homes to hand consumers a paper price list when they visit a funeral home in person. The rule does not compel funeral homes to post general price lists online, where nearly all consumers turn to compare prices of goods and services.

“One of the most critical ways families can control their costs is by shopping around, just as they would for any other product, but it’s difficult to do that for funerals,” Slocum said.

He suggested the federal rule “really needs to be updated to [make it] be possible for consumers using the Internet” to compare prices.

“Families dealing with the death of a loved one are often struggling with a range of bereavement issues,” the Funeral Consumers Alliance said. “The pain of getting overcharged by a funeral home may only add to their grief.”

SCI responded to the survey in a statement, which said: “We take the rights of client families, the Funeral Rule, and other industry regulations and requirements seriously.”

Texas-based SCI, which operates under its principal brand Dignity Memorial, owns more than 1,000 funeral homes and cemeteries across the U.S., controlling about 16 percent of the funeral industry, the Consumer Funeral Alliance said.

For more information on the report, click here.

In British Columbia, the funeral industry is regulated by the Consumer Protection Branch, which requires funeral homes to provide price lists to potential customers.

If a funeral home doesn’t provide a price list when requested, they are in violation of regulations. If a funeral home fails to comply with those regulations, the consumer has the right to file a formal complaint with Consumer Protection B.C.

Funeral service providers also must advise B.C. consumers of the right to cancel a funeral contract. Consumer rights can be found by going to the website www.funeralrightsbc.ca

To learn more about inspections and complaint-handling by Consumer Protection BC, read this backgrounder.

Funeralwatchdog.com was established to increase awareness of consumer rights when dealing with the funeral industry. It was also established to honour the memory of our mother, Holly Haliburton, 95, who died on Feb. 2, 2013 in Vancouver, Canada.

Days after Holly’s death, we had a horrible experience with a local funeral home operated by SCI, resulting in a lawsuit against the company by the Haliburton family, and against St. Paul’s Hospital and its board.

The Haliburton family also has been working with the Danylowich family of Vernon, B.C., who filed a lawsuit against SCI after the 2014 death of their mother, Kathleen (Kae) Danylowich, 90, who was cremated before the family had a chance to say their goodbyes at a memorial service.

Holly’s son, Jim Haliburton said: “We are working together for positive changes in the way the funeral industry operates in Canada. It is hoped that such pro-active consumer pressure will also encourage like-minded U.S. consumers to carry the same cause forward in the United States.”

He added: “In order to accomplish the needed changes, both families believe that consumer awareness is the way for Canadians to receive a fair and level playing field in the funeral industry marketplace.

“Consumers deserve and must demand funeral provider accountability, responsibility and fair-market pricing for all products and services. Mandatory safeguards are required.
Canadians need strong regulatory protection with fair and just consequences for those who break the rules. In addition, support of independent Canadian providers should be encouraged.”

Haliburton suggested “consumers deserve a nationwide funeral industry Code of Ethics that is clearly and easily understood by both consumers and providers. Strict checks and balances must be in place from the time of passing until the family’s final wishes are realized.

“Also, providers must meet ethical standards regarding care, compassion, respect, emotional support and dignity. Educate consumers and they will make better decisions for their families,” Haliburton said.

“Finally, we will pursue legislative reforms at all levels of government so no family will ever have to endure what our families have.”

Jim Haliburton and John Danylowich are both featured in a new documentary, A Death in the Family, which aired Oct. 12, 2017; it is mainly the personal story of Canadian journalist Blake Sifton, whose family has owned a funeral home for more than 90 years:

Jim Haliburton wrote this about his mother:

HOLLY MARGARET HALIBURTON   12/13/17– -2/17/13

WHAT CAN ONE SAY ABOUT HOLLY?
A DAUGHTER, A SISTER, A MOTHER AND A FRIEND
SOMEONE WHO SAW THINGS AS THEY WERE

SHE WAS NEVER JUDGEMENTAL, ALWAYS KIND AND UNDERSTANDING
SHE CAME TO THIS WORLD IN 1917, ONE OF TWELVE CHILDREN.
SHE SAW THE BIRTH OF THE AUTOMOBILE, AIRPLANE AND TV
SHE WITNESSED A WORLD DEPRESSION, DEVASTATING WARS AND INJUSTICE
YET SHE ALWAYS SAW GOOD, THE BEAUTY OF NATURE AND EMBRACED LIFE

HOLLY HAD MANY SIDES

A NURTURER WHO WOULD WELCOME THOSE WHO NEEDED A HAND
HER GENTLE AND CARING WAYS ARE STILL IN THE MEMORIES OF MANY
SHE HAD NO ENEMIES AND CHILDREN LOVED HER GINGER BREAD COOKIES
AS HER SON, I HAVE BEEN BLESSED BEYOND ALL MEASURE
SHE WAS ALWAYS THERE…..SOMETIMES THE ONLY ONE
WHEN I PLAYED SPORTS, SHE WAS ON THE SIDELINES
WHEN LIFE BEAT ME UP, SHE WOULD SEE ME THROUGH
HOLLY WAS THE BEST INVESTMENT GOD EVER MADE!

91 POUNDS OF INSPIRATION WITH TRUE GRIT AND N0-QUIT, INTENSELY ENERGIZED
SHE EXUDED CLASS, WORE 40 YEAR OLD CLOTHES THAT LOOKED BRAND NEW
I WILL REMEMBER HER “KATE HEPBURN-LIKE” STUBBORN FOCUS
SHE LOVED TO SEW AND KNIT, SMOKE CAME OFF HER KNITTING NEEDLES
I FOUND PEACE AND COMFORT WATCHING HER CREATE SOMETHING FROM NOTHING
HER GREATEST ROLE WAS BEING HER DAUGHTER’S BIGGEST FAN
JACKIE, NEAL, RACHAEL, BECKY AND ELI WERE IN HER THOUGHTS DAILY
AND FINALLY, THERE WAS JACK, THE LOVE OF HER LIFE!

DAD WAS AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE, HOLLY HELD ON TIGHT…SHE WAS THE GLUE FOR 52 YEARS. THEY WERE MAGIC.
NEVER, EVER A HARSH WORD OR A RAISED VOICE
IN THE PAST FEW YEARS, HOLLY HAD TO CARRY ON WITHOUT DAD
AND HER LOSS OF VISION WAS A DEFINITE CHALLENGE, PICTURES WERE NO COMFORT

SHE OFTEN CALLED ME JACK AND I DIDN’T CORRECT HER

I BELIEVE MY PIANO PLAYING AND CONSTANT WHISTLING HELPED SOFTEN HER PAIN
MY WISH FOR ALL OF YOU IS THAT YOU HAVE A HOLLY IN YOUR LIFE
LIKE THE AMAZING BEAUTY OF A COMET ACROSS THE BRILLIANT NIGHT SKY
SHE WAS A FAST MOVING BEACON OF POSITIVE LIGHT WHO LEFT US IN AWE
SOMEONE WHO HAD A MEANINGFUL, LONG LIFE BUT, WAS STILL…..GONE TOO SOON!

Holly Haliburton in 1946, when she was 29.

 

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The sad but inspiring story about the life and death of John Shields

John Shields died earlier this year at 78. New York Times photo by Leslye Davis

The New York Times recently published a great story about the life and death of former B.C. union leader John Shields, who was tormented by an incurable disease.

It details how, with the help of his family, friends and his doctor, he choose to live and die. The NYT times story by Catherine Porter is here.

Shields was the former president for 14 years of the B.C. Government Employees’ Union, the biggest union in British Columbia, Canada.

Under his tenure, the union went from 20,000 members to about 58,000. He was also a former Catholic priest, social worker, civil rights activist and “the savior of a floundering land trust that included 7,191 acres of protected wilderness and historic properties,” the story said.

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Metro Vancouver woman furious after father’s body moved from Delta Hospital morgue by funeral home without family’s consent

Delta Hospital. photo credit: Fraser Health

Vancouver radio station CKNW recently brought another case to light of a local funeral home removing a body from the morgue of Delta Hospital without the family’s permission.

Sherry Smallwood told senior reporter Charmaine de Silva that she never hired Delta Funeral Home to take the body of her father, Tom Smallwood, who died June 16.

She says she just phoned the funeral home to check prices of funeral services and later got a call from the funeral home, saying “Oh we just want you to know that we’ve picked up your father from Delta Hospital from the morgue and he’s with us now.”

She was furious that the funeral home took her father’s body without the proper signed documentation.

Fraser Health Authority later admitted protocol wasn’t followed and apologized. The full story is online here.

Consumer Protection BC has laws and regulations concerning the operations of the funeral industry in B.C., including a law that a body cannot be removed from a morgue by a funeral home without a signed consent form.

To learn more about funeral and cremation consumer rights, go to www.funeralrightsbc.ca

 

 

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