Over 700 people attended the 2017 Iowa Funeral Directors Association (IFDA) Convention last week in Altoona. This was the second consecutive year that the convention was held in Altoona at Prairie Meadows Hotel & Conference Center. The change in location has been warmly received by attendees after IFDA moved its convention and the Premier Midwest Funeral Service Expo from Ames.
The Convention has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from funeral directors and exhibitors.
The 2017 Annual IFDA Convention, which took place May 16-18, and featured a variety of expert speakers and the Premier Midwest Funeral Service Expo attracted exhibitors from across the country.
Speakers at the 137th Annual Convention presented current information on bereavement education, business and management practices, regulatory updates, technical skills and training and additional topics related to the funeral service profession. The IFDA Convention provides funeral directors with a forum to receive and exchange information so they may return home with new ideas that will allow them to better serve the families in their communities.
Funeral directors arrived in nearby Pleasant Hill on Monday, May 15, for the 13th Annual IFDA Golf Outing at Toad Valley Golf Course. Golfers were thrilled to experience a warm, sunny day and enjoyed playing 18 holes with colleagues and friends. IFDA and other sponsors provided door prizes for attendees and awarded cash to the top three teams.
Tuesday morning’s opening ceremonies featured Governor Branstad’s Iowa Funeral Directors Week proclamation. Keynote speaker Marguerite Ham shared her presentation, “Managing Multiple Generations Under One Roof,” a program which was designed to create a better understanding of how different generations interact. Ms. Ham continued discussion about this subject while tying the IFDA’s 2017 Convention theme “Reclaiming Our Cultural Authority,” during her breakout session Tuesday afternoon.
Following the keynote presentation, funeral directors attended IFDA’s annual business meeting. Attendees were invited to a welcome luncheon and IFDA past presidents gathered for a special lunch.
The Premier Midwest Funeral Service Expo opened Tuesday afternoon with a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Sixty exhibitors presented everything new and improved in funeral service while funeral directors researched the exhibitors and navigated the hall with the Guidebook app on their smartphones.
Tuesday afternoon included four special breakout sessions where funeral directors learned about how cope with compassion fatigue, creating cash flow solutions, working with multiple generations, and Facebook for funeral homes.
A Celebration of Life ceremony honoring IFDA members and family members who passed away within the last year took place Tuesday evening. Representatives of the deceased were presented with a memorial candle and ornament. The ceremony included a moment of silence and a video memorial. Later in the evening, the Presidential Banquet and Awards Ceremony occurred in a ballroom. Tickets for the banquet were sold out in advance of the Convention.
The Banquet honored the achievements of IFDA members throughout 2016-2017. Those honored included three scholarship recipients, 40-, 50-, 60-, and 70-year licensees, and Award of Excellence recipients. Milestone licensees received a standing ovation for their service to the funeral profession and their communities.
New officers and governors for the 2017-2018 term were installed. Below is an updated list of the IFDA Officers and District Governors after the inductions at Tuesday’s Presidential Banquet:
President: David M. Fry / Fry Funeral Home / Tipton
President-Elect: William J. Armstrong / Armstrong Funeral Homes / Mount Ayr
Secretary-Treasurer: Charles J. Yoder / Yoder-Powell Funeral Home / Kalona
Immediate Past President: Patrick A. Leonard / Leonard Funeral Home & Crematory / Dubuque
IFDA Board of Governors
District 1 Ryan G. Tucker / Kaiser-Corson Funeral Homes / Denver
District 2 Jacob Wittrock / Stewart Baxter Funeral & Memorial Services / Cedar Rapids
District 5 Paul A. Fouts / Fouts Funeral Home / Woodbine
District 6 Justin Rasmusson / Rasmusson-Bacon Funeral Home / Nevada
District 7 Andy Joyce / Joyce Funeral Home / Emmetsburg
District 8 James M. Fullerton / Fullerton Funeral Home / Mason City
Wednesday was packed full of continuing education opportunities. Directors brushed up on Iowa laws and rules, shared experiences in roundtable discussions, learned how to help families who face conflict in death care, and enjoyed a second visit to the Expo.
In the afternoon, concurrent sessions again covered a variety of topics including; FTC & legal updates, laws and rules in regard to preneed filing, insurance ethics and a riveting session where funeral directors discussed the history of funeral service. Rounding out the afternoon sessions were the volume breakouts which allowed funeral homes of similar sizes the opportunity to share common issues and discuss business strategy.
The final two sessions of the convention occurred Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Funeral directors attended a technical session Wednesday evening with Bernie Delaney. Delaney spoke about how to professionally handle removals even in challenging circumstances. Thursday’s three hour session was presented by Wally Hooker. Hooker’s session discussed various tips and techniques of the embalming process and provided demonstrations.
The Iowa Funeral Directors Association “promotes and supports funeral service excellence” by representing over 700 Iowa licensed funeral directors and promotes high standards within the field of funeral service through continuing education programs, legislative representation and service to Iowa communities. For consumer information regarding funeral service, please log on IFDA’s website at www.iafda.org.