FCRC member and owner of Vessey Funeral Services, Steve Vessey’s  presentation was entitled “50 Years of the  Funeral Home Industry 1969-2019”.

His contrast of 1969 and 2019 was both informative and entertaining, and, like so many things, showed how much things have changed locally and nationally in the last 50 years. Some of this has been driven by the large population growth in Northern Colorado as well as the origin of those who have relocated to NOCO (California).

In 1969 the population of Ft Collins was 35,000 and the CSU student enrollment was 10,000.There were 4 funeral homes, all family owned and directors and their families all lived above their business. Funeral directors also doubled as ambulance drivers and deputy coroners with the ability to pronounce death. The obituary entry in the Coloradoan was free; compared to the current rate of $1.27 per word. Essentially all deceased had the same routine-100% embalming, casket, viewing and funeral service. The cremation rate was 3-6% and 95% were buried in our 2 local cemeteries.  Almost all deaths occurred at PVH or a nursing home.

Fast forward to 2019 (2018 figures) in Ft Collins - The population currently may be as high as 178,000. There are still 4 funeral homes but one is part of a large corporation (SCI). The cremation rate is 90%.  Cremains are buried, saved or scattered. All funeral homes have a crematorium. Some families do “direct cremation” (DIY). The term “Celebration of life” was first used in 2000 but now this is the title for the majority of services. The majority of deaths in NOCO occur at home. Hospice played a big role in this trend, and , the first, Pathways Hospice, started locally in 1979.

Finally, preplanning for that inevitable time was discussed as well as veteran’s death benefits.