I'm Oliver Webber, here with my research assistant, Kaydence Ribetnauer. You may not be able to see us because we're tucked in between these blades of grass, waiting for our next meal to fly in and land on one of them. To nourish our bodies and souls, we ponder leaves. We encourage contemplation... especially in regard to issues that will have to be handled when we become worm grub. We hope to motivate others to thoughtfully cultivate preferences and decisions while still vigorously leaping around. We recommend croaking... using voices to broadcast wishes before it's too late to have a voice in this matter. Other than a sumptuous supply of insects, this is assuredly the most "toad-ally" considerate gift we could leave for our life companions! Don't you agree? We invite you to get your feet wet by joining our pond of pondering pre-planners. Let's make croaking meaningful!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Funeral Home FLOWER SHOP



Often floral arrangements for funerals can be purchased directly via funeral home websites.  Or one can choose them when surveying products within their product selection rooms.  But some also maintain a separate building dedicated solely to the sale of flowers. 

When a death causes mourners to realize that they should “stop to smell the roses,” they can actually walk into the Wade Funeral Home Florist to do so literally. 

The storefront building looks like a typical commercial establishment alongside a city sidewalk, but its uniqueness stems from the fact that it is located between two funeral home buildings.  Yet it’s a full service business that markets flowers for any occasion.  Convenience and versatility sure can make life… and death… a bit easier.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

GREEN BURIAL at Kessler Woods

USA HORIZONS... Fly'Bye Lady Visit In INDIANA 


The setting for burials in the five-acre Kessler Woods section at the edge of the Washington Park North Cemetery certainly epitomizes the concept of “natural.”  Upon entering this virginal wooded realm dominated by tall trees, one is apt to encounter darting and fluttering wildlife amidst a forest backdrop. The rustic and secluded surroundings are totally contrary to characteristically manicured and expansive cemetery grounds governed by tradition. 

Here is where the environmentally sustainable burial option offered by Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers can be realized… where bodily remains decompose under natural conditions without impediments of metal caskets and concrete vaults or formaldehyde-based embalming, and according to established parameters. 

Once a body is buried, the dirt that was dug out to create the grave is placed on top of it.  With eventual underground decomposition, the dirt settles and the mound disappears. 

Gravesites here are covered with engraved sandstone or tree pieces as memorial markers. 

A nearby site also serves the same purpose, though the terrain is distinguished by prairie grasses and flowers native to Indiana.

Next time you’re in Indianapolis you might want to check out “the road less traveled” to see where some of Indiana’s outdoorsmen, environmentalists, conservationists, and others may come to rest. 

Monday, October 21, 2013




What’s the last place where you’d expect to find a lively and lavish wedding in full swing?  Let’s pretend for a moment that someone in your family has become engaged and you are responsible for identifying a potential site for the nuptial event.  Your immediate response might propel your thoughts to a restaurant, a hotel banquet room, a hall connected to a place of worship, or a community lodge of some sort. 

If the affair will be in Indianapolis, maybe you should add a funeral home to your list of possibilities.  Increasingly, funeral establishments have been diverting from their primary functions to capitalize on utilization of their facilities for other personal and community occasions.  Along with memorial gatherings, proms, business events, and the like, weddings are “big” at the 10,000 square-foot Flanner and Buchanan Community Life Celebration Center on the east side of the city. 

Upon entering the modern building, your mouth may drop open as you gape at the magnificence of a rotunda graced by a high ceiling with a glittering chandelier, a central fountain, and walls manifesting an art gallery.   

(presence of plywood planks and barrier tapes due to remedial work underway at time of visit)

Beyond a door on the left is a grand ballroom that accommodates parties of up to 300 people, complete with audio-visual equipment and a dance floor.  A walk straight ahead within the rotunda will lead you to the light (not the ultimate version you might see as a client in a funeral home!) that pervades an open-air courtyard.  Surrounded seasonally by roses, this area can similarly seat up to 300 guests.  A “Crystal Tower” there serves as a focal point for brides who wish to make an entrance from it.  There’s also a “Bridal Suite” for pre-wedding primping by a bridal party, as well as a “Retreat” with lounge seating and a television for the groom and groomsmen.   

Amidst this grandeur, a turn to the right off the entranceway will lead you to a reception desk, comfortable seating areas, and circular offices abutted by gallery-style display racks of eclectic funerary wares highlighted by natural sunlight pouring through adjacent windows.  Elegance and refinement persist, even in this section of the building. 

Wall murals with images of the facility's own burial properties provide corridor backdrops.

Although this is a funeral home, it’s one that has compounded its transformative potential… not just in terms of supporting transitions from physical substance to spiritual endurance, but probably also in terms of changing perspectives of consumers.  So wherever you live, don’t rule out this type of business when preparing for a special gathering.  While there are plans for this particular establishment to expand event operations to several of its multiple locations in Indianapolis, many other funeral providers throughout the country are adapting their facilities so they can offer them as venues for varied functions.  Now when you think of funeral homes, think not only about endings, but also about new beginnings. 

Monday, October 14, 2013




Sometimes constructs suggestive of funerary applications can be found in odd places.  Palliative bereavement consolation might be realized in a big way by passing through Effingham, where an exceedingly large steel cross rises 198 feet high above common ground.  

Though referred to as “The Cross at the Crossroads” because of its location at the intersection of two major highways, this labeled designation might be symbolically befitting for someone experiencing a loss and needing to reconfigure one’s direction in life.  A “Meditation Walk” leads to the giant white configuration. Besides having access to a small gift shop and a short video about the structure’s construction process, visitors can activate rock-shaped speakers next to ten stone tablets that represent the biblical Ten Commandments; the press of a button produces a morsel of wisdom relative to the corresponding commandment. Although not designed as a mourning tool, bereaved individuals who come across it during their travels could potentially be awed and infused with comforting ethereal contemplations. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013


USA HORIZONS... Fly'Bye Lady Visit In OHIO


The modest building for Edwards Funeral Service appears rather ordinary on the outside.  But the exterior belies the modern and progressive outlook the owner, Jeff Edwards, has adopted.  He assumed a pioneer role by earmarking this funeral facility as the first in the United States to offer a new and burgeoning alternative to cremation. 

Alkaline hydrolysis, identified also by varying labels, is akin to the cremation process in some ways, but water (infused with an alkaline agent) rather than fire is employed to effect bodily dissolution.   It entails use of a stainless steel machine slightly comparable to a cremation chamber, or retort, and the residual remains are somewhat similar to the residual bodily substance derived from cremation.  However, absence of environmental contaminants is the benefit that distinguishes this method and renders it a desirable alternative.  

The equipment for this service was installed and operated, but it has been dormant for quite a while.  After obtaining permits from the Board of Health, the process, presented here as “aquamation,” was completed nineteen times before operations came to a grinding halt.  A lawsuit with the State of Ohio and the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers coupled with religious misperceptions presented an obstacle that is yet to be resolved, pending legislative approval.  Meanwhile, until Ohio follows suit with several other states that have adopted laws sanctioning this procedure, the Edwards facility still offers it, but through an affiliation with a provider in Illinois, must transport bodies there at added expense and considerable travel time.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013


USA HORIZONS... Fly'Bye Lady Visit In OHIO


From the perspective of a pre-planning facilitator who has visited a substantial number of funeral homes, the Geib Funeral Center stands out because it oozes warmth and hospitality.  Let’s face it:  How often do you enter a funeral facility only to find a circle of fully alive women resting peacefully in cushy living room furniture by a fireplace… while knitting!  This is where they gather on a regular basis for their shared activity that unites them congenially.  But it’s no wonder that this particular retreat is their chosen spot! 

The modern building with a cathedral ceiling is open and airy, exposing a floor plan that eschews boundaries and invites absorption of pleasant surroundings.  

From the central reception area that lacks walls, one can see not only the large seating expanse, but also the product display gallery akin to a gift shop, tastefully decorated with color and flare, allowing clients to explore a full range of funerary options and ideas.

In an adjoining reception room with a connecting kitchen, numerous community events are held, including a full array of gatherings for diverse personal occasions.  

Instead of the standard “funeral home” nomenclature, the facility is aptly dubbed a funeral “center.”   With their operations manager serving as an organizer, coupled with a full calendar of community events – some of which are annual affairs and often held off premise – Geib truly epitomizes the concept of expanding operations beyond funerary functions. Some of their 2013 calendar entries include:  A Chocolate Love A’Fair, a Soup Cook-Off & Luncheon, a Quarter Auction Fundraiser to benefit Relay for Life, a Primary Election as well as a Pancake Breakfast and General Election held on site, a Mother’s Day Flower Sale and Chicken Barbeque, a Barbershop Quartet performance, an End of Summer Picnic, a picnic for seniors, a Hall of Fame Awards Banquet, in addition to a memorial walk and the typical remembrance affairs often presented by funeral homes.  Another initiative was realized when, in conjunction with residents of a senior living community, staff members prepared a cookbook; all proceeds from sales of it benefit the American Cancer Society.

It is obvious that this provider has diverted from standard, mechanized business approaches.  Offerings are thoughtfully orchestrated and concerted efforts permeate their implementation.  Probably local residents recognize that casual contacts and familiarity through the years breed comfort when the establishment is needed for end-of-life provisions.  

Monday, October 7, 2013


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How do you spell ENTHUSIASM?  One way is by assembling the letters JOHN R. HERZIG.  This is a man whose avocation parallels his vocation.  The two fit together like a key in a keyhole.  At the Toland Herzig Funeral Homes & Crematory, this funeral director is also a funeral collector. 

His passion for amassing funeral programs and mementos began in 1996 as a hobby originally confined to collecting only autographs.  Upon requesting an autographed photo of the boxer, Joe Louis, someone also sent him the program from his funeral service.  That sparked an interest in gathering items from the funerals of celebrities, including performers, authors, historical figures, and others.

So the Famous Endings Funeral Collection that is part of the funeral facility materialized into a ever-growing resource to “honor and remember those who touched our lives.”  

Among the gleaned artifacts are photos, audio recordings, Mass cards, and mementos originally distributed at funerals.

Many pieces are displayed in cabinets, but some exhibits also decorate walls.  Among them are memorabilia boards featuring President Eisenhower as well as the boxer, Joe Frazier.

Unique forms of memorabilia include a lamp from a vintage funeral coach.

Expansive displays in cabinets and on walls include: a Civil War funeral flag, the accordion used to play a farewell tune for Franklin Roosevelt, President James Garfield’s mourning vests, Don Ho’s memorial photo shirt and lei, a 1958 worksheet used to calculate funeral expenses for Elvis Presley’s mother, Casey Stengel’s funeral guestbook and floral cards, a stuffed animal replica of Lamb Chop, the puppet associated with Shari Lewis and given to funeral guests as a memento, launch certificates and capsules from the legacy flights of James Doohan’s and Gene Roddenberry’s cremated remains in space, and SO MUCH more!

Though John Herzig has recounted tales of the past represented by these artifacts countless times for multitudes of people, his spirited interaction exudes an eagerness to share what he knows.  He churns out detailed information from his brain as if spewing forth facts from a history text.  While tending to the care of bodies, this prolific man who exemplifies duality certainly has put his keen mind to good use.  He brings cultural icons to life!

Besides availing himself for personal interactions on site, either individually or for tours, he serves as a speaker at community meetings to spread the word about the personalities whose lives and deaths he has studied.  Beyond the presentations, he also maintains a blog, with exciting new entries as time passes.

When traveling through Ohio, you might not spontaneously think of a funeral home as a tourist mecca.  But since busloads of people pass through the funeral home’s museum, it’s obvious that many sightseers choose this as a destination – just not necessarily their final one!