Three funeral directors, three stories, three ambassadors to the profession

Funeral directors come with all kinds of interests and backgrounds.  What makes them so interesting is the diverse backgrounds, cultures, and interests that are found among them. But the good ones all have the commonality of becoming ambassadors for the profession simply by plying their trade to humanity.

Today, Funeral Director Daily tells you about one gentleman selected as the American Funeral Director of the Year by one publication, of an Irish lady who vied to become the wholistic ambassador for Ireland around the world, and a career law enforcement officer who changed careers after nineteen years of catching criminals.

And, if you read their stories you will learn lessons of service, of family commitment, and of one who says it is “the utmost privilege to be able to look after the deceased who can no longer look after themselves and have been entrusted to you by their family.”

These three epitomize the “good that funeral directors do every day” and I’m guessing you know many in the profession who have those same attributes.

Here’s their stories:

Wallingford Funeral Home Director earns National Recognition.  myRecord (CT)

The article tells the story of Matthew Baily, a 4th generation funeral director who was named “Funeral Director of the Year for 2021″ by the American Funeral Director Magazine.  The publication said this in their article about the selection: “When choosing its annual director of the year,  the publication looks for individuals who not only have a strong reputation of guiding families through the loss of a loved one, but also their role in the community their business is rooted in and in the funeral home industry. On top of running four funeral homes, Bailey is a board member for both the Rotary Club of Wallingford and the Midstate Chamber of Commerce. He’s also served on the boards of the Wallingford Public Library and the Wallingford Foundation.”

Here is the website for Baily Family Funeral Homes

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Meet the funeral director and embalmer who hoped  to be the 2022 Rose of Tralee.  The Irish Mirror (Ireland)

26-year old Clare Ann Irwin is a 5th generation member of her family to be involved in Galway, Ireland’s Irwin’s Funeral Directors, a firm started in 1834.  However, she is the first female funeral director and embalmer in the firm’s history.

Clare’s tale is one for the succession planners to reflect on.  While she is very happy at being a funeral director she wonders what might have happened if her dad had let the funeral home go because there was no male interested in carrying on.  Here’s what she says in the article, “Like I think back we’re the oldest in Galway city, Irwin’s funeral directors, we are nearly 200 years in business. And my dad was going to just let it all go….I just think it’s so sad because I was always interested in it and especially the embalming and the anatomy and physiology.  But just because I’m a woman, he was just gonna let it all go.”

Recently, Clare participated in the Rose of Tralee Festival which selects one lady from Ireland to become Ireland’s role model and ambassador to promote Ireland around the world.

The Rose of Tralee Festival

Here is the website for Irwin Funeral Directors of Galway

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Police officer turned embalmer says dealing with the dead is the “utmost privilege” .  Wales News (Great Britain)

Mark Latsuske worked across South London as a police officer for nine years.  In that time period he says “I saw a real slice of life – the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Latsuske then moved into working on financial crime in the banking sector for the next decade.  In that decade he worked on cases in the United States, Russia, and Poland, and at age 47 decided to make a career change into. . . . the funeral profession.

After decades of chasing criminals, the father-of-three put himself through “mortuary school” and qualified as an embalmer in 2008. He loves his new profession, and strives to make people look “peaceful”.

Funeral Director Daily take:  I happened to see these stories over the past couple of days.  It caused me to think about all of the great human beings I know that are funeral directors.  And from my point of view, not enough is said about them. . . . most are humble servants that just want to serve families.   They are compassionate. . . they are caretakers. . . sometimes they take care of their client families more than their own families. . . it’s just how they are wired.

I also thought of the funeral profession’s “Journey to Serve” initiative that is seeking honorably discharged veterans to help the death care profession build up our ranks of professional funeral directors.  The story of Mark Latsuske, who moved from a law enforcement career to a career in funeral service gives evidence that police officers may be another occupation that could look into funeral service as a second career.

I’ve known many great and dedicated police officers, and like military veterans, many can retire from that service in their early 50’s.  Maybe a 2nd career in funeral service could be in the cards for some of them. . . .

More news from the world of Death Care:

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1 Comment

  1. Colette Kemp on August 30, 2022 at 10:10 am

    My father is from Galway, and my mother is from Dublin [I’m a first-generation Brit], and I had no idea that it was like this in Ireland. I’m wondering if the situation for Clare is profession-specific across the board or if it’s a regional thing per each country. Galway is more country than Dublin, so that could be a factor. I specifically remember my mum and dad’s families not getting along because the Dubliners were city people and the Galwegians were country folk.

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