Major gifts and pledges from Assurant Global Preneed, Memorial Classic, Service Corporation International, the Richard Tetrick Family Foundation, Barbara Mack, Ernie Hagel, Legacy.com, The Illinois Fund, Messenger, and the Foundation’s recycling initiative accounted for the increase in contributions.

Brookfield, Wis. – The Funeral Service Foundation gratefully accepted a record $1.25 million in contributions in 2019, which expands the Foundation’s capacity to help funeral service build relationships with families and communities through education, initiatives and grants.

The donations underscore the funeral service profession’s dedication to providing healthy, healing memorialization experiences.

“These gifts cut to the heart of what the Foundation is about: enriching the profession and making an impact in our communities,” said Foundation Executive Director, Lee Wiensch, CFRE. “We take that role very seriously and are grateful for the trust our donors place in us to provide the educational opportunities, grants and tools that fulfill our mission.”

The gifts help fund an assortment of scholarships (the Foundation ’45 Awards); advance the Foundation’s profession-wide Youth & Funerals Initiative; and support a grant of $50,000 to the National Alliance for Grieving Children and a repeat grant of $25,000 to the National Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition.

Assurant Global Preneed – $150,000
Assurant Global Preneed pledged $150,000 in Foundation support, which marks the Canadian company’s third major gift since 2003. “Like the Foundation, Assurant believes that every family deserves the best experience possible when it comes to a meaningful life celebration, and we’re honored to partner with the Foundation to elevate our profession’s impact within our communities and with our families,” said Tammy Schultz, president of Assurant Global Preneed. “We look forward to hearing how the Foundation continues to grow awareness about the important work we do.”

Memorial Classic – $128,000
The Memorial Classic’s $128,000 gift in 2019 brought the tournament’s cumulative giving total to $500,000. Tom Johnson and Jake Johnson of Johnson Consulting Group head the annual outing, which brings together more than 130 players from across the profession for two days of play in memory of the profession’s finest: Bill Bischoff, Dave Hirt, Steve Mack, John Morrow, Ed Murphy, Ed Tuggle and Joe Weatherford. “Dad and I have been long time supporters of the Funeral Service Foundation, both having served on the Board, and it’s an honor to be able to donate each year,” said Jake Johnson, president and CEO of Johnson Consulting Group. “On behalf of all the contributors at the Memorial Classic golf tournament, we want to thank the Funeral Service Foundation for the role it plays in our profession!” The major gift supports Fund ’45 and the annual Memorial Classic academic scholarship.

The Richard Tetrick Family Foundation – $50,000
Foundation Trustee Emeritus Richard Tetrick made a second $50,000 gift to the Foundation. Tetrick’s initial $50,000 gift, made in 2005, helped plant the seeds for the Foundation’s Hand-in-Hand in Endowment, which ensures that the Foundation is able to dedicate grants in perpetuity. “Our family feels strongly about supporting the future of funeral service,” said Tetrick. “This profession has been good to us, and we are honored to give back.”

Service Corporation International – $50,000
Service Corporation International (SCI) made its seventh consecutive $50,000 major gift in 2019. “Year after year, the Funeral Service Foundation continues to inspire the profession to be its best, and offers the tools, education and grants to help funeral service professionals learn and grow,” said SCI Senior Vice President and CFO, and Foundation trustee, Eric Tanzberger. “SCI is honored to support the Foundation’s important work.”

Mrs. Barbara Mack – $30,000
Barbara Mack made a second major gift in memory of her husband, Steven Mack, who was widely regarded as a giant of American funeral service and is remembered for his commitment to integrity and excellence. Mrs. Mack’s $30,000 gift supports the Steven Mack Memorial Scholarship, which is administered through the SCI scholarship program. “We are honored to have the continued support of the families whose loved ones have made an indelible mark on the funeral service profession,” said Wiensch. “Mr. Mack’s trailblazing legacy will live on through the profession’s rising stars dedicated to serving families and communities.”

The Illinois Fund – $27,750
In recognition of the NFDA International Convention & Expo in Chicago, firms across the state of Illinois came together to raise $27,750 in support of the Funeral Service Foundation in 2019. Smith-Corcoran Funeral Homes/The Smith Family led the fund with a $10,000 gift. In an appeal to Illinois donors, the Smith Family wrote, “Bob Smith, Sr. served as NFDA’s president in 1991-92. Our Funeral Service Foundation support honors his legacy by ensuring funding for programs such as NFDA’s Meet the Mentors, that fuel the careers of the profession’s next generation of leaders, thinkers and doers.” Chicago Jewish Funerals (in honor of Stopher Bartol), the Darby family, Haben Funeral Home and Crematory, the Illinois Funeral Directors Association, SCI Illinois Service, Shalom Memorial Chapels and Sunset Funeral Home also contributed to the Illinois Fund.

Mr. Ernie Hagel – $25,000
Ernie Hagel donated $25,000 to Fund ’45, which is the Foundation’s first-ever major gift from a Canadian firm owner. “This is a remarkable gift from a remarkable Canadian firm,” said Allan Cole, president and owner of McKinnon & Bowes in Toronto, and Foundation chair-elect. “Mr. Hagel’s gift underscores the Foundation’s commitment to make education and resources accessible to funeral service professionals across North America.” The Foundation has experienced an uptick in scholarship applications and resource requests from Canadian firms in response to expanded Canadian outreach efforts.

Legacy.com – $22,500
For the fourth year in row, Legacy.com contributed a $22,500 matching gift to the Foundation in thanks for the work funeral directors provide. In a piece shared with NFDA International Convention and Expo attendees, Legacy.com CEO Stopher Bartol wrote, “Your work in funeral service means something to the community, and it means something to us at Legacy. We’re honored to help you support the profession that gives so much to you, to your loved ones, and to the families you serve.” Legacy.com’s support helped inspire nearly $50,000 in gifts made during the annual NFDA Convention & Expo in October and throughout the end of the year.

Messenger – $10,000
For the third year in a row, Messenger made a $10,000 gift and encouraged funeral service professionals who have benefited from the Foundation’s initiatives, scholarships and continuing education opportunities to join them in support of the Foundation. “The reason Messenger continues to support the Funeral Service Foundation and Fund ‘45 is simple: because funerals matter,” said Bob Hoaglund, Messenger’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We want our profession to be the best it can be and ensure we have access to education, programs and initiatives that help us continually improve. This makes all of us better and impacts our communities in a really positive way.”

The Foundation’s Recycling Initiative – $502,000
Firms that allocated all or part of their post-cremation recycling proceeds to the Foundation accounted for more than half a million dollars of support in 2019. “We receive recycling proceeds from individual firms and larger corporations alike,” said Wiensch. “Recycling support provides a way for firms to give back to the profession in a real and meaningful way while addressing ethical considerations.” The Foundation is on track to expand the Initiative in 2020.


About the Funeral Service Foundation – FunderalServiceFoundation.org
Since 1945, the Funeral Service Foundation has served as the profession’s philanthropic voice. As the charitable arm of the National Funeral Directors Association since 1997, the Foundation receives operational support from NFDA and donors across the profession to help advance its mission to support funeral service in building meaningful relationships with the families and the communities it serves.