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.