For Immediate Release: November 12, 2019
The annual NFDA Convention offered unrivaled education and networking and the biggest funeral expo in a stunning setting
Brookfield, Wis. – The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) 2019 International Convention & Expo, held October 27-30 in Chicago, Ill., drew 6,116 total attendees (3,701 attendees and 2,415 exhibitor representatives). A total of 491 international attendees, representing 44 countries and territories, participated in the 2019 NFDA Convention. The 250,000-square-foot Expo Hall featured 390 exhibiting companies.
The NFDA convention proved to be an extraordinary experience for all who were able to attend. The convention featured though-provoking workshops, many of which were at or near capacity. Attendees were challenged to think about funeral service in new ways. Dynamic presenters helped attendees plan for the future while offering practical strategies to help them meet the evolving needs and desires of the bereaved families in the present.
The Expo Hall was a highlight for many attendees because, in addition to connecting with their valued supplier partners, they also discovered new products and services they can offer to families in their communities. Attendees also explored benefits available to veterans in the Salute to Service pavilion, met therapy dogs (and puppies-in-training) in the Pause for Paws booth, explored hot topics in funeral service during 20-minute mini-workshops in the Tailgate Exchange, and discovered career-building resources in the Funeral Career Center.
Whether attendees channeled their inner Jake or Elwood during the lively Welcome Party at Navy Pier or explored the depths of the oceans during An Evening Under the Sea, the fabulous closing party at the Shedd Aquarium, attendees had many opportunities to network and have fun with funeral directors from around the globe while experiencing everything that makes Chicago one of the country’s greatest cities.
On Saturday, October 26, nearly 20 volunteers shared their time and talents with Habitat for Humanity Chicago. This year’s volunteers worked in a neighborhood in which several homes were being constructed by Habitat for Humanity volunteers. Among other tasks, the NFDA volunteers help construct a fence for one of the homes. Thanks, in part, to the generosity of NFDA volunteers, Chicago families will realize their American dream of home ownership.
Honoring First Responders
A highlight of the 2019 NFDA Convention was the Service of Remembrance. Public-safety officials serve and protect their communities and put their lives on the line every day. When the time comes, their lives deserve to be remembered with the utmost honor and respect through a meaningful funeral service. During this year’s service, the Chicago Police Department Honor Guard helped attendees understand the customs associated with celebrating the lives of public servants as the association honored the memory of funeral service family members who died during the last year.
“Some ask what are the greatest honors or the greatest challenges you may face … it’s when we get those calls in the middle of the night and we have a short time to do a whole lot to take care of some very special people,” said Chicago Deputy Chief Steve Georgas. “To remember and honor the heroes we may have lost … and to never forget those families that they’re leaving behind.”
During the Service of Remembrance, a collection was taken up for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to honoring the lives of our fallen heroes. The Foundation provides support and assistance to the families of Chicago police officers who are killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty. Through the generosity of convention attendees, $3,757 was donated to the Foundation, the highest amount collected during the last 10 NFDA Conventions.
NFDA Honors Funeral Service All Stars
During the All-Star Recognition Ceremony, NFDA recognized funeral professionals who, within the last year, earned their NFDA Cremation Certification (Certified Crematory Operator or Certified Cremation Services Provider designation); NFDA Certified Preplanning Consultant designation; or their Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) designation from the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice.
NFDA also honored recipients of a Foundation ’45 scholarship or award from the Funeral Service Foundation, and the NFDA International Professional Achievement Certificate.
Additionally, NFDA paid tribute to the funeral homes that are Green Funeral Practice Certificate holders and 2019 Pursuit of Excellence Award recipients – including the Best of the Best Award winners and Hall of Excellence inductees – during the All-Star Recognition Ceremony.
During the Opening General Session on Monday, NFDA presented the 2019 Innovation Award to Carved in Memory, a new innovative memorial product that turns loved ones’ handwriting into works of art. The first runner-up was Mortuary Lift Company and the second runner-up was Coasson. Established in 2009, the NFDA Innovation Award recognizes and promotes creativity, innovation and excellence among funeral service suppliers and vendors.
NFDA also gave out fabulous prizes to attendees in the Great Big Giveaway, held during the Closing General Session on Wednesday. During Expo Hall hours on Wednesday morning, NFDA’s valued sponsors handed out tickets for a chance to win fabulous prizes. The winners were:
- Grand Prize – 2019 NFDA International Convention & Expo Experience (convention registration, travel reimbursement up to $1,000): Dominick Weigel Jr., Hudson’s Funeral Home & Crematory, Lander, Wy.
- Apple Watch: Vaugh Wright, Harman-Wright Mortuary & Crematory, Beatrice, Neb.
- Amazon Echo Show: Jeffrey Fraley, Fraley Funeral Home, Moorefield, W.Va.
- American Express Gift Cards ($100, $50 and $25): Shelly Brown-Chudzinski, David C. Brown Funeral Home, Belleville, Mich.; Lisa Devereau, Island Funeral Service, Vashon, Wash.; Kathie Friederich, Barnes Friederich Funeral Home, Midwest City, Okla.; Jeffrey Fraley, Fraley Funeral Home, Moorefield, W.Va.; Amanda McDaniel, Huehns Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Sturgeon Bay, Wis.; Brent Thomas, Neidhard-Young Funeral Home, Cincinnati, Ohio; Michael O’Connell, O’Connell Family Funeral Homes and Cremation Services Inc., Hudson, Wis.; Marcus Harrison, Harrison Funeral Chapel & Cremation Center, Alton, Ill.; Franklin Rainear Jr., Affordable Funeral Service & Cremation LLC, Ewing, N.J.
During the NFDA Convention, attendees had an opportunity to participate in the NFDA Political Action Committee (PAC) 50/50 Raffle for a chance to win half of what was raised in ticket sales. The drawing took place during the Closing General Session on Wednesday. Winning $9,350 was Matt Baskerville of Reeves Funeral Homes in Coal City, Ill., who generously donated 10% of his winnings back to the NFDA PAC.
NFDA was pleased to broadcast the Opening General Session, as well as the All-Star Recognition Ceremony and Service of Remembrance, live via the NFDA Facebook page. Recordings of these signature events and other convention highlights are available online, https://convention.nfda.org/Highlights.
The new NFDA Live! stage featured live interviews with NFDA staff, special guests, workshop speakers and more. Recordings of these interviews can be found on NFDA's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NationalFuneralDirectorsAssociation (click on the "All Videos" section).
Professional photographers captured all of the excitement of the 2019 NFDA Convention. All of the photos can be viewed at www.nfda.org/chicago. Attendees may download as many photos as they like at no charge; prints and other keepsake items are available for purchase.
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler – Let The Good Times Roll
The 2020 NFDA International Convention & Expo will take place October 18-20 in New Orleans, La. It’s been 10 years since NFDA last brought its convention to New Orleans and members are excited to return to the “Big Easy.”
New Orleans is a magical and uniquely American city, with a long and rich history. The city’s compact geographic footprint makes it easy to navigate and its warm, friendly residents welcome millions of visitors every year and help them “pass a good time.”
New Orleans’ first settlers found common ground through music, and no other city loves music more. Listen to a local singer, dance with a second line or feel the music of a jazz band in one of the city’s many bars, restaurants and live music venues.
With more than 1,500 restaurants, time in New Orleans isn’t kept in hours or days, but in meals. When dining in New Orleans, attendees will experience a culinary adventure that spans a wide array of cuisines. Come experience why New Orleans was named the number one City for Food in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure magazine.
Whether you want to explore history or haunts, shopping or swamps, parks or churches, there are a bounty of options for fun and frolicking around New Orleans. There is history to be found around every corner and adventures to be had at New Orleans’ many delightful attractions.
Registration and housing for the 2020 NFDA Convention will open in Spring 2020 at www.nfda.org/neworleans2020.
The 2019 International Convention & Expo was made possible, in part, by the following sponsors:
- Black Diamond: Homesteaders Life Company, eFuneral Partner
- Platinum: Federated Insurance
- Titanium: NGL
- Gold: Bass-Mollett Publishers, Batesville, Legacy.com, Lending USA/Funeral, Love Urns, Messenger, Security National Life Insurance Company
- Silver: ASD – Answering Service for Directors, C & J Financial, Disrupt Media, Domanicare, Everdays, FrontRunner Professional, Global Atlantic Financial Group, IR Environmental/Implant Recycling, Live Oak Bank, Madelyn Company, Nomis Publications Inc., Physicians Mutual, Precoa, Thumbies, Tukios
- Bronze: A Mortuary Cooler by American, AP Lazer/Supernova, BBVA Bank, Chosen Payments, Doric, Express Funeral Funding, Foundation Partners, funeralOne, Garfield Refining Company, Huntington Bank, Inman Shipping, Mid-State Recycling, Ring Ring Marketing, theMemories, Wilbert Funeral Services
NFDA is the world's leading and largest funeral service association, serving more than 20,000 individual members who represent nearly 11,000 funeral homes in the United States and 49 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.nfda.org.
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Editor’s Note: High-resolution photos from the 2019 NFDA Convention can be downloaded at no charge via www.nfda.org/chicago. Please credit International Center for Documentary Arts as the source of the photos.
Contact: Jessica Koth, 262-814-1536, email@example.com