Funeralwatchdog.com is the new website started by the family of Holly Haliburton, who died a year ago today. We wanted to draw attention to the funeral industry after the bad experience we had with a North Vancouver funeral home, which took our mother’s body from the morgue at St. Paul’s Hospital without our permission.
The Vancouver Sun did a two-page story about what happened. You can read the story by clicking here.
We made a formal complaint with B.C.’s Consumer Protection Branch, which is investigating. The branch regulates the funeral industry in B.C. We also reported the matter to Vancouver police.
The reason we initially contacted the North Vancouver funeral home was because Holly had bought a membership in the Memorial Society of B.C., a non-profit society which offers discounted funeral arrangements.
We mistakenly contacted the North Van funeral home because of the phone number listed on the Memorial Society membership card — the number had been for a funeral home used by the society. But the funeral home had been sold — we later realized that the First Memorial funeral home had no affiliation with the non-profit society. We believe many people have made the same mistake and we want to make the public aware that the funeral home is owned by the Texas-based company Service Corp. International, known commonly as SCI. Bloomberg did a story on SCI last year, which you can read by clicking here.
We have come to learn that SCI settled to pay $100 million in a $200-million lawsuit claim, and now faces a $500-million class-action lawsuit (click here to read about that lawsuit, which was settled in 2014), plus numerous complaints about its business of handling funerals and burials for people who are grieving and at their most vulnerable. We’ll tell you about some of those controversial stories involving SCI and other funeral providers in the days ahead.
But today we are remembering Holly, who died on Feb. 17, 2013. She was wonderful woman, loved by many. Here was Holly’s obituary from last year:
Holly Margaret Haliburton
Dec. 13, 1917 to Feb. 17, 2013
We are saddened to announce the passing of our dear mother at the age of 95. She was predeceased by her loving husband of 53 years, Jack Haliburton, who died in 1998, her parents, James Nichol and Sarah (Bertha) Hamilton, and 11 of 13 siblings. She is survived by her brother Bill Nichol and his wife Joyce of New Brunswick; her daughter Jackie (Neal), her son Jim, and her adult grandchildren Eli (Negar), Rachael, Becky and Jeremy.
Holly was born in Black Lands, New Brunswick. She skipped three grades in school and was a teacher by the time she was 15 at a one-room schoolhouse. During the war, she worked as a civilian for the military in Moncton, where she met Jack at a dance, a young Toronto-born officer who was teaching pilots how to fly. They married in 1945, six weeks after they met, and after the war moved west, first to Calgary, where Jack started his own real estate firm, Campbell & Haliburton, and founded the Alberta real estate board. After the birth of their two children, Jackie & Jim Haliburton, they moved to Edmonton for five years and then to the Glenmore area of West Vancouver, where Jack built many homes and started a mergers and acquisitions business.
During the 1950s, Holly could be seen driving the kids to soccer and band practice in her pink 1957 Chev convertible, with the radio turned up too loud, embarrassing her children. After Jackie graduated from school in 1965, she attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, and the family soon followed, settling in Encino, where they were next-door neighbours to Michael Jackson and his family during the Jackson 5 heyday.
Holly loved entertaining in those days, when hundreds of neighbours would flock to her Christmas parties, where she would hand out a gingerbread likeness to each guest. She loved and embraced people, without judgment, and was always a positive person right to the end.
Jack & Holly returned to West Vancouver in the early ’80s, when Holly began working in Jackie’s store, Angel, at the age of 60. She worked at the store for 30 years and became a part of the lives of Angel customers, who treated Holly like a surrogate mother. She called everyone “Dear.”
She lived life to the fullest and had no regrets. Her positive attitude was an inspiration to many who knew her, especially Laurie Haliburton of North Vancouver, Ann Danton of England, who was like a daughter to Holly, Dr. Rob Scott of West Van, Lynn Thomas, and Joe Diblasi, both of California.
Holly spent the last two weeks of her life in the Heart Centre at St. Paul’s hospital after a major heart attack, with her family and friends by her side, including Ingrid, Linda, Wayne, Ruby, Regina and Barb. Special thanks to Linda & Ingrid for their many hours at the hospital. She put up a valiant fight to live, cracking jokes days before she died, but her time eventually ran out. She died in her sleep in hospital, with Jackie at her side and Jim on the phone. The family would like to thank all the doctors and nurses at St. Paul’s for the great care they gave Holly in her final days. Holly is greatly missed by all who knew her.
The Haliburton family also wants to boost awareness that the Consumer Protection Branch has regulations to protect the rights of consumers, including the requirement “for all funeral services providers to clearly communicate consumer cancellation rights information in pre-need contracts exists to protect consumers at a time when they may be making difficult end of life decisions.”
For consumer tips or to find a licensed funeral provider, go to Consumer Protection BC’s website at www.funeralrightsbc.ca.
Consumer Protection BC recently issued a $5,000 penalty against CARE Funeral Services (Vancouver Island) Ltd., a funeral services provider based in Victoria, BC, for two violations of a previously issued Compliance Order.
Last year, CARE Funeral Services was ordered to include consumer cancellation rights information in its pre-need contracts, as required by law. A follow-up inspection uncovered new pre-need contracts that did not include this information.