Cemetery, Preneed

Better late than never

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In the news last week was a story of deceased New York state firefighter Anthony Fatale and the delayed legacy of his life.  Fatale had died two years ago in 2018 at the age of 70.

Fatale was single, an Air Force veteran,  and a member of the Nyack Fire Department, who many colleagues say was “larger than life”.  David Gottlieb of Empire Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 had this to say according to an article and video that you can see here, “I got a lot of memories of Tony, but they’re not public. . . . .To this day, we still tell stories about hanging out with Tony and all the good things he did for people.  He was always there for you.”

So, what about the “delayed legacy”.  Well, it turns out that over ten years ago Mr. Fatale had visited the Travis Monument Company in Nyack and started to design a mausoleum for his private interment at Oak Hill Cemetery in that city.  As many times happens in funeral and cemetery pre-planning, he never finalized the plans nor commissioned the design of the mausoleum.

It turns out that almost two years following his death, the executor of his estate called Mr. Anthony Minozzi of Travis Monuments to ask if it was still possible to build the mausoleum according to Fatale’s specifications.  According to the article, the executor wanted to “carry out” Mr. Fatale’s instructions.  Minozzi responded that he is a 4th generation owner of the company and the original ideas were set with his father, however, they compiled the available notes and came up with a design that Minozzi is quoted in one of the videos as saying, “.  .(we) believe it is what Mr. Fatale had wanted.”

The news stories and news videos from last week, a second one that you can see here, now show a large mausoleum under construction and almost complete at Oak Hill Cemetery in Nyack that will truly give lasting legacy to Anthony Fatale.  The building is so large and features so many intricate architectural embellishments that it was built on premises.  According to Minozzi, the mausoleum contains over two tons of granite and it took two tractor trailer loads simply to deliver the granite to the cemetery prior to the construction.

The building led fireman Gottlieb to comment further, “I think there’s going to be a lot of people that are going to visit that mausoleum.  He left a mark at our (fire) company.”

Funeral Director Daily take:  This is a great human interest story of how the wishes of someone were completed even after that person’s death.  And, it is great to see those wishes carried out.

However, this story can also be a cautionary tale for those in the death care business.  For whatever reasons, Mr. Fatale’s thoughts and ideas on this project got dropped while he was still living.  I think that points out how imperative it is for those of us in the preneed funeral, cemetery, and monument businesses to continue to follow thru and correspond with potential clients even if they don’t pre-arrange at the first meeting.

So many of us, and I used to be included in this group, feel that if someone does not commit to pre-arrangements at the first meeting, it is up to them to re-connect to do so.  Many old timers (that’s me) in the business believe it is being too aggressive to re-contact these leads.  I think that is an old and out-of-date philosophy and it is much better to continue to communicate with potential clients.  This case proves that people procrastinate. . .and in most cases we are doing them a favor by helping them follow-through and get these death care plans in place.

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