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  • August 04, 2023 9:53 AM | WFDA (Administrator)


    Change in Staff Announcement for the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association 

    Madison, WI- The Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association (WFDA) announces a change in staff as we bid farewell to our esteemed Executive Director, Caroline Bowers, who has been at the helm of WFDA for the past four and a half years. Caroline will be leaving WFDA on August 4 to pursue a new Executive Director role with another nonprofit organization.

    Caroline's tenure with WFDA has been marked by exceptional leadership and dedication to our organization's mission. Her unwavering commitment to the funeral service professionals in Wisconsin and her efforts to uphold the high professional standards of our members have left a lasting impact on WFDA and its members.

    Current WFDA Board President, Matt Myrhum, of Myrhum-Patten Funeral Homes, shared, “Throughout her time with WFDA, Caroline's dedication and commitment to our association and to our industry as a whole has been unwavering.  She truly immersed herself in our culture and was embraced by many for doing so.  I personally have greatly appreciated her leadership and friendship over the years and while I am sad to see Caroline go, I wish her nothing but the best both personally and professionally.  I am grateful for the staff at Impact for their work behind the scenes to help provide a smooth transition from Caroline to our new executive director Kent Anderson.  I am looking forward to getting to know Kent and getting him up to speed as we stay the course in implementing the five year strategic plan that your WFDA board developed earlier this spring.  While Impact is an important component of WFDA's success, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other two parts that make up the pyramid of WFDA's success which is our general council Sharkey Law, PLLC and our lobbying firm Hamilton Consultants.  These three organizations combined is what makes WFDA the leading association for funeral service in Wisconsin.  Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions regarding this transition.” 

    As WFDA continues to uphold its commitment to serving funeral service professionals in Wisconsin, we would like to emphasize that the association is managed by the capable and experienced team at Impact Association Management Company (AMC). The collaborative efforts of WFDA's dedicated board of directors and Impact AMC ensure that members receive consistent, sustainable, and member-focused support. Client Success Manager and Executive Director, Kent Anderson will be supporting WFDA moving forward. Kent brings over ten years of nonprofit leadership experience to Impact AMC and is looking forward to serving WFDA.

    The WFDA Board of Directors and Impact AMC remain fully committed to WFDA's mission and are actively working to ensure a smooth transition in leadership. As we move forward, we are excited to continue serving our members and supporting the funeral service profession in Wisconsin.

    About Impact AMC: Impact AMC is a management firm that specializes in providing comprehensive support for non-profit membership associations. Through their expertise, they help organizations achieve membership growth, retention, and overall success, enabling boards to concentrate on their core missions. 

    About WFDA: Founded in 1881, the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association (WFDA) is the largest state trade association assisting funeral service professionals in Wisconsin. WFDA is dedicated to representing and supporting its members through continuing education, networking opportunities, advocacy efforts, and promoting the highest professional standards in delivering meaningful funeral services to the families they serve.

  • June 22, 2023 2:59 PM | WFDA (Administrator)

    We extend our heartfelt appreciation to all the attendees, speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors who made our142nd  Annual Convention an unforgettable success. We are thrilled to share a recap of the memorable moments and express our gratitude for your valuable contributions.

    Here are some highlights from the event:

    1. Fundraising Success: We are proud to announce that, through the 3rd Annual Golf Outing and raffles, we raised a substantial amount for the WFDA Leadership Development Foundation. Your participation and generosity contributed to the growth and support of future leaders in the funeral industry

    2. Games for a Cause: Attendees participated in bolwoing, axe throwing and darts to support the WFDA Political Action Fund. By participating in these activities, you not only had a great time but also made a meaningful impact on advocating for important causes within our industry.

    3. Honoring Experience: We took a moment to recognize and honor individuals who have dedicated their lives to the funeral profession. Those licensed for 25, 50, and an impressive 70 years were celebrated, highlighting their invaluable contributions and commitment.

    4. Board Officer Installation: Our event marked the installation of new Board officers, ushering in a new era of leadership within our esteemed organization. We are confident that their vision and dedication will guide us towards greater success and advancement in the coming years.

    5. Continuing Education: We offered 16 credits this year covering the required categories for license renewal. We heard from a variety of speakers covering restorative art, body donation, copyright law, grief, and legislative updates. 

    6. Expo Success: We had exhibitors representing 57 different companies support this year's event. We provided dedicated expo time for attendees to visit with our industry partners and learn more about their products and services. We also enjoyed the incredible raffle prozes offered by our exhibitors this year!

    As we bid farewell to the Wisconsin Dells, we are excited to announce that next year's conference will take place in Appleton at the Hilton Paper Valley from June 10-12, 2024. Mark your calendars and prepare for another incredible experience filled with educational sessions, networking opportunities, and moments of inspiration.


    Caroline BowersExecutive Director

  • April 25, 2023 1:03 PM | WFDA (Administrator)


    I am still reeling from the excitement and energy generated from last week’s 2nd Annual WFDA Professional Women’s Conference! The goal of this event is to offer tools, education, and support to increase social, emotional, and professional empowerment for women in the funeral business. This year we saw a 42 percent increase in attendance from our first Professional Women’s Conference in 2022. After our first annual conference, several attendees volunteered to join the planning committee for the 2023 event. I want to give a special thanks to that group: Jenna M. Krenz, CFSP (Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Homes), Fawn Schaefer (Ballhorn Chapels), Dawn Nelson (Zacherl Funeral Home), Michelle Reppert (Westgor Funeral Home), Alexandra Shadof (Heritage Funeral Homes), and Carolyn Katz (Cooperative Funeral Fund). I am certain their time and efforts account for the increase in attendance this year. Another huge thank you to the WFDA Leadership Development Foundation and the WFDA Past President Club for proving FIVE scholarships to worthy female and non-binary funeral professionals and students to attend the conference!

    The event this year took place April 18-19 at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake. We gathered on Tuesday evening for a Welcome Reception and roundtable session. It was wonderful to meet other women in the funeral industry and share our experiences with each other. We had some great swag bags that included EOS lip balm, chocolates, and a custom candle from Fox & Ivy (Wautoma). We were also lucky to have several gift baskets that were given throughout the event to encourage participation and bring a little extra joy. 

    We had a full day of education on Wednesday starting with a session from Morgan Schlender (NFDA). Morgan helped us refocus on self-care and tuning in with ourselves more regularly. She shared resources provided by NFDA that encourage acknowledging our own well-being. She even got the group up and dancing, which, I think we all can agree, really helped loosen everyone up and added a bit of silliness.

    Former 911 operator, Billi Jo Baneck shared her personal experience about grief and the path forward. Her session was powerful and inspiring. We enjoyed Yvonne Slonaker’s engaging presentation about advocating for yourself and defining yourself outside of your profession. Cassandra Steinhaus-Shiner (Pekin Insurance) gave the group some valuable background about women in the funeral industry and trends within funeral service.

    After these engaging and educational sessions, attendees were able to participate in the optional activities – Yoga and Jeopardy. 

    Some attendees took this time to enjoy spa services at a 20% discount. We gathered again for happy hour and appetizers. It was wonderful to spend quality time with both the people we've known for years and those we just met. 

    After the event, we surveyed the attendees to find out how this event can evolve and improve moving forward. We are listening and beginning to plan for 2024! Here are some quotes from attendees:

    “It was so nice to be around like-minded women in Funeral Service to connect with.”

    “The speaker sessions were incredibly powerful.”

    “I loved Jeopardy! It was such a fun ice breaker/ team building experience where we had the opportunity to interact more as friends than simply professionals.”

    “My number one takeaway was that we need to reflect on our own time and personal life while we manage the many stressors of being funeral directors.”

    We hope to see everyone again next year- and see some new faces too!

    Caroline Bowers, Executive Director

    Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association

    April 25, 2023

    Thank you to our 2023 Sponsors!

  • September 23, 2022 7:53 AM | WFDA (Administrator)

    WFDA is excited to be refreshing our courses offered for insurance credits! Our newly established Education Committee is working hard to create new and innovation programming for licensed insurance agents representing funeral homes selling burial agreements funded with life insurance. Stay tuned for details!

    In the meantime, please note that all of our Fall Conference and Fall Forum courses are approved for insurance credits as well as funeral director credits. 

    Additional Resources for Insurance Courses

    IIAW Pre-Licensing Courses

    Premier Preneed Marketing Preneed Course

  • September 19, 2022 12:30 PM | WFDA (Administrator)

    The Minnesota Department of Health will no longer pre-approve continuing education hours and posted a revised CEU form to allow licensees to submit and attest to their completed CE hours.

    The Minnesota Department of Health has revised the Mortuary Science Continuing Education Form to meet your needs as the Minnesota Department of Health will no longer pre-approve continuing education hours. This will provide an efficient practice and allow licensees to submit and attest to their completed CE hours.

    As a convenience, MDH is providing links to the organizations that offer Morticians Continuing Education events. You can find organizations offering CEs at

    The Health Regulation Division stopped listing CE events on its websites and began listing organizations that provide CEs to improve efficiency and ensure up-to-date information is available for Morticians. Morticians can use these other sites to find Continuing Education events or opportunities.

  • September 14, 2022 12:50 PM | WFDA (Administrator)

    Fondly referred to as “Grandpa” by the WFDA board, Gerry Lynch has played a crucial role in making the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association what it is today. As a former board member of 15 years, Gerry is still a huge advocate of supporting members through education opportunities, fostering young members of the funeral service industry, and getting more members involved in the association even after they retire.   

    Gerry has had a varied career, as he worked for General Motors, a PVC pipe manufacturing company, and owned a restaurant before he decided to get into the funeral services industry. A career as a funeral director was always in the back of his mind, and in 1995 he received his license from MATC-West Allis. Around this time, he partnered with Jim Whitcomb to run the Whitcomb-Lynch Funeral Home in Janesville, WI until he retired in 2020.

    Gerry has also played a major role in creating the Leadership Development Foundation, which was established in 2021. He realized the association needed a way to allow members to contribute and support WFDA with education. Gerry strongly believes in developing from within the industry in order to retain and grow the WFDA member base. He finds the WFDA so valuable due to support from peers and education opportunities, and the Foundation is a way to increase accessibility of these experiences for its members. Looking forward, Gerry hopes to see more involvement from retirees to continue to provide their knowledge and experience to the younger funeral directors. 

    Community involvement has always been important to Gerry, as he has also been a member and volunteer at his local Elks Club for about 40 years and served on the MATC Funeral Service Program Advisory Board for about 18 years. Now happily retired, Gerry spends much of his time traveling.

  • August 23, 2022 1:58 PM | WFDA (Administrator)

    The Wisconsin Funeral Director Association (WFDA) announced they will be expanding their Annual Fall Conference this year to multiple locations across the state. WFDA is comprised of over 250 funeral homes and 700 funeral directors. One of the most valuable benefits of being a WFDA member is access to numerous quality continuing education programs. Funeral directors must receive a minimum of 15 continuing education credits every two years to maintain their license.

    This year, the association will host its Fall Conference on September 27 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Stevens Point. Attendees will receive a full day of education and networking, including a presentation from the Department of Health Services, and a special visit from Wisconsin State Senator, Patrick Testin. Other sessions will include ethics, grief counseling, business succession planning, and active shooter training. WFDA holds its Fall Conference in a central location every year in hopes that it will be convenient for members to attend.

    However, this year, they are taking the convenience a step further. In October, they will hold three additional forums around the state so that more funeral service professionals can pursue their continuing education credits closer to home.

    “Funeral Directors’ schedules are unpredictable. They are always on call to serve Wisconsin families and WFDA wants to meet them where they are so they don’t miss out on these educational opportunities,” said WFDA Executive Director, Caroline Bowers.

    Each forum will provide attendees with a minimum of six continuing education credits and the opportunity to meet local and state legislators, and government agency representatives. 

    Below are the dates and locations for each of the Forums:

    Visit for more information and to register for the Fall Conference or any one of the Forums.  

    About WFDA

    Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association, founded in 1881, is the largest state trade association assisting funeral service professionals in Wisconsin. WFDA represents and supports funeral service professionals licensed in Wisconsin through continuing education, networking, advocacy, and promoting the high professional standards of its members in providing meaningful funeral services to families they serve.

  • August 06, 2022 12:12 PM | WFDA (Administrator)

    The Preneed Bank Trust in Wisconsin: A Dinosaur That Needs to Go Extinct -Michael D. Sharkey, Esq., CFSP

    Before I did my apprenticeship and went to mortuary school I trained to be a biologist. I was particularly interested in natural selection and the manner and methods by which any given species would evolve into existence, thrive, maintain, decline, or go extinct. Just as species evolve and fill a niche, a particular environmental condition in which the species thrives, they also fall out of favor when those conditions change. One thing that the study of biology and geology teaches is that conditions always change after the passage of enough time, and new species rise to fill new niches while others go extinct in those changed conditions. There is a lesson to be learned in that, and this article discusses how that lesson should be applied to traditional preneed bank trusts.

    Fast forward from those days as a biology student to the present day. As General Counsel to the WFDA, I am normally excited to answer the phone from the members of WFDA. Troubleshooting the many problems that come up for Wisconsin funeral directors and finding solutions for them truly brings me happiness.

    There is one exception to this and one call I do not enjoy: Hearing about problems with a preneed bank trust. It is a dinosaur that has outlived its niche due to changes in conditions. The traditional preneed bank trust is a creature that, because of changes to the nature of banking itself, is relegated to the fossil record. The modern banking environment is nothing like it was just a mere 20 years ago.

    At just about every one of the last ten or so WFDA Conventions I have discussed, even cajoled, our members to move away from the traditional preneed bank trust. The time for this antiquated dinosaur to finally go extinct is here. The year is 2022 and preneed bank trusts need to go the way of embalming with arsenic.

    The days of the “home town” bank have all but disappeared. Local banks have been bought up by regional banks. Regional banks have been bought up by national banks. National banks are being bought up by international financial conglomerates. The vice president at the bank down the street from your funeral home is now beholden to the corporate overlords at “Big Bank” in New York, London, or even Zurich. The “local bank” officer whose mom you buried and who you see at church no longer has the ability to help you when there is a problem with a preneed bank trust. The “policies and procedures” of “Big Bank” are made thousands of miles away by people the local bank officers will never meet.

    Put bluntly, these Big Banks simply do not want to work with funeral homes. Far too often I take calls from WFDA members who either cannot access bank trust funds or to whom the bank will not even provide basic information. Funeral directors in Wisconsin share their frustrations with me and ask for my help… and there is often little I can do. The common theme is the bank being obstinate, if not openly problematic.

    Time and again, I hear the same thing reported to me by our members. On average, the conversation goes like this:

    Funeral director: “Hello, I have the Smith family coming in this morning to make arrangements for their mother, Jane Smith. She passed away last night. Her preneed account number is ABC123. Can you please tell me how much is in her burial trust account?”

    Bank: “I will need a Death Certificate in order to provide that information.”

    Funeral director: “I’m not asking that you release the funds. I just need to know the current amount. The family is coming in to make arrangements for their mom this morning. I won’t have a Death Certificate for a week at best. I need to know the amount in the account so that the family can make informed decisions.”

    Bank: “I will need a Death Certificate in order to release that information.”

    Funeral director: “But the family is coming in this morning to make arrangements for their mom. I need to know the amount of funds we have to work with.”

    Bank: “I will need a Death Certificate in order to release that information.”

    Imagine the embarrassment and frustration of a funeral director who has a family coming in for arrangements and the bank will not tell the funeral director how much money is in the preneed trust. The funeral home was the one that suggested the bank trust, but now is powerless to provide the basic financial information to the family.

    There are ways to avoid this problem.

    Instead, using one of the many non-bank preneed funding providers places the funeral director in a position of empowerment where there will not be the embarrassment and frustration of being unable to provide needed information to the family. A simple and quick call to one of the many non-bank preneed funding companies and the funeral director is ready to advise the family as to the funds available.

    The traditional banks’ lack of cooperation is not the only problem confronting funeral directors and families. As a mortuary law practitioner, I am aware of several situations in Wisconsin where banks have turned preneed funds over to the unclaimed property division of the state. Some of these banks turn preneed funds over to unclaimed property after a mere twenty years.

    Imagine trying to serve a family only to find out that mom’s preneed fund was turned over to a state bureaucracy as abandoned funds because mom didn’t pass away within the bank’s preferred timeframe. Mom’s longevity was an inconvenience for the bank… and a huge embarrassment for you and a serious problem for the family that you are trying to serve.

    The solution: There are companies that want to work with funeral homes to provide proper, ethical, and comprehensive preneed funding. These companies show up at funeral director conventions to interact with you- the funeral director. These companies sponsor profuneral service programs, contribute to pro-funeral service organizations, and- unlike the banks- want to work with you.

    I go to funeral director conventions and seminars all over the country. I have yet to see a traditional Big Bank promote funeral service… or even so much as have a booth by which to interact with funeral directors. It is not just that the bank does not care about you or your families… they consider preneed accounts annoying (at best). Note that I have yet to use the word “insurance” and am using the term non-bank preneed funding provider or a variation on that unofficial moniker. While preneed insurance is certainly one of the available options, there are non-insurance funding options (often called a trust company) which are also available to you and the families you serve. Many of these folks either focus solely on funeral service or have a division that is dedicated to preened funding. They are happy to work with funeral homes and families to fund preneed accounts and can be found actively supporting funeral service. The institutional knowledge many of these companies have allows them to specifically tailor their services pursuant to state preneed regulations. This is quite different than banks which tend only to think about traditional accounts and do not want to concern themselves with preneed regulations. I make no recommendation as to what option is best for your business or your families. Talk to all of them and make your own informed decisions. That said, I will state that in Wisconsin 99% of the time a non-bank funding option is better than the traditional bank option.

    Generally speaking, the conscientious Wisconsin funeral director should not be writing preneed bank trust funds going forward- those funds should be placed with the non-bank preneed funding companies that want to work with you and have the best interests of the families you serve in mind. When preneeds that are already at banks can be converted over to non-bank funding sources (which may or may not be easy to do depending on the circumstances) they should be.

    In conclusion, the dinosaur of the traditional bank preneed needs to go extinct. Do not be the funeral home that clings to the antiquated ways of yesteryear that work against your professionalism and which are not in the best interest of your families. In other words- do not let your reputation go extinct with traditional bank preneeds. New and better ways to fund preneeds have emerged and should be embraced by Wisconsin funeral directors- doing such is in the best interest of the families you serve. You have put too much work and dedication into this beloved Dismal Trade of ours to become part of the fossil record.

    Michael D. Sharkey is a licensed funeral director and attorney who specializes in mortuary law and civil litigation. He serves as General Counsel to the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice and the Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Washington State Funeral Directors Associations. Sharkey is an equity Shareholder at the Minneapolis law firm Cousineau, Van Bergen, McNee & Malone, where he serves as Chair of the Mortuary Law Practice Group.

    This article is dedicated to my colleague Jenna Krenz, WFDA Past President, who inspired me to write about traditional banks and preneed trust funding. My thanks to her. 

  • July 22, 2022 8:53 AM | WFDA (Administrator)

    On July 13, 2022, we hosted a Wisconsin's Funeral and Cemetery Aids Program (WFCAP) webinar. Speakers from WFCAP reviewed the program along with the WFCAP manual updates that were released in May 2022. The webinar recording and PowerPoint are now available on the WFDA website to review and share with your staff. Only those who attended the live presentation will receive continuing education credit. 

    We are grateful to the WFCAP team for taking time to answer our questions. That portion of the webinar begins at minute 35:32 in the recording. Questions covered death certificates, General Price Listings (GPL), discounts, application process, ME/Coroner fees and more. 

    Visit Our WFCAP Resources Page

  • July 20, 2022 9:47 AM | WFDA (Administrator)

    MADISON, WI – Steve Lazarczyk, Matthew Myrhum, James Klemmer, and Joel Walters have been newly elected to provide vision and leadership in the coming year on the Wisconsin Funeral Directors  Association (WFDA) Executive Board of Directors.  

    Steve Lazarczyk will serve as Board President for the 2022-2023 year. Steve is a licensed funeral director and owner of Lazarczyk Family Funeral Homes in Lake Geneva and Delavan. He has served on the WFDA Executive Board for three years, previously serving as Secretary/Treasurer, Vice President and President-Elect. 

    Matthew Myrhum will serve as President-Elect, moving into the role of Board President in the 2023-2024 year. Matthew is a licensed funeral director and owner of Myrhum-Patten Funeral Home in West Bend. He has been on the WFDA Executive Board for two years previously serving as Secretary/Treasurer and Vice President.  

    James Klemmer will serve as Vice President after serving one year as the Secretary/Treasurer for the  WFDA Executive Board. James is licensed funeral director of Heritage Funeral Home in Milwaukee. 

    Joel Walters will serve his first term on the WFDA Executive Board as Secretary/Treasurer. He  previously served on the WFDA Board of Directors as the Fox River Valley District Representative. Joel is a licensed funeral director of Muehl-Boettcher Funeral Home in Seymour. 

    James Wolfe has moved from WFDA Board President to the Immediate Past President position  for the association. He has served on the WFDA Executive Board for four years as Secretary/Treasurer,  Vice President, President-Elect and President. James is a licensed funeral director and owner of Apfel Wolfe Funeral Home in Janesville.


    Founded in 1881, The Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association (WFDA) is the largest state trade  association assisting funeral service professionals in Wisconsin. WFDA supports members with funeral  service news and resources, continuing education, legislative advocacy, and access to a network of professionals to help them better serve their communities. 

    Link to the official Press Release

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