The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Men of mortuaries

Men of Mortuaries:

Many businesses and organizations engage in fundraisers in order to raise money for their philanthropies and causes. Some put on shows, others throw formal galas or create coupon books, and some produce calendars.

“The Men of Mortuaries” calendar is no exception. It is just like the anxiously awaited firemen’s calendar and Chippendale dancers’ calendar. Only this calendar features 12 of the nation’s tannest and buffest morticians.

The idea for the calendar originally started out as a joke between two siblings. While strolling through a mall, Kenneth McKenzie, owner of a mortuary in Long Beach, Calif., and his sister, Katherine Alyce McKenzie-Meadows, saw other male beefcake calendars and thought it would be funny if there was a calendar of morticians.

The idea became a fund-raising effort for breast cancer after McKenzie-Meadows developed the disease in June 2004. McKenzie started a non-profit foundation in 2004 using her initials in the name, KAMMCARES. McKenzie-Meadows overcame breast cancer and is now cancer-free.

KAMMCARES is a foundation dedicated to the assistance of people going through breast cancer treatment. Gifts can go toward anything recipients want and will be distributed on January 1, 2007.

Breast cancer affects not only the thousands of women who have the disease but also their families every year. According to The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, more than 210,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

The calendars sell for $15.

KAMMCARES’ goal is to put money in the pockets of women with breast cancer so they can continue their everyday activities that are sometimes left out as families on limited incomes are force to cover added expenses associated with the disease, according to a recent press release.

McKenzie’s idea became a reality by conducting a “hunk” search across America. He sent letters to mortuaries throughout the United States explaining the calendar and offered a $1,000 prize for each man selected, according to a press release.

“The hardest part was finding 12 attractive funeral directors. That just doesn’t happen. This industry is just not known for that,” McKenzie says on the Men of Mortuaries website.

One of the morticians featured in the calendar is David Fisch, 27, a third-generation mortician from Remsen, Iowa and body builder. Fisch is the antithesis of the popularized image of a person in the funeral industry.

“Most people get the image of a skinny, gaunt person with dark eyes and pale skin … but it’s not always true,” Fisch said on the calendar’s Web site.

McKenzie hopes the calendar will clear up the stereotypical perception of morticians.

Fisch agrees. “I think anything that shines a positive light nowadays is a good thing,” he said on the Web site.

Each of the 12 featured men is involved in some aspect of the industry whether he is a funeral director, embalmer, family counselor, mortician, or florist. Scenes on the calendar will range form the solemnity of a funeral to the celebration of life, and others will be funny. The theme of the calendar is: “you’ll just dig ’em.”

“Whenever you hear about a funeral director it’s a guy in a suit in the corner with a hump on their back,” McKenzie jokes on the calendar’s website.

So what does it mean to be a mortician, embalmer, or funeral director?

In Texas, there are two licenses: an embalmer and funeral director. According to the Texas Funeral Service Commission, to be an embalmer requires attending mortuary school, an associate of applied science degree, and a minimum of a year internship, called a provisional licensing program. Morticians must be at least 18 years old and get at least a 75 percent on the written exam given by the commission. Being a funeral director only requires an apprenticeship.Those with dual licenses are morticians. It’s a human service profession, according to the American Board of Funeral Service Education.

And according to the Dallas Institute of Funeral Services, in 2005, 73 percent of the 80 first-time National Board Exam takers passed. The Dallas Institute of Funeral Service is a non-profit institute that offers educational opportunities to those interested the funeral service industry.

“But state laws being the way they are anyone can act as their own funeral director,” said Victor Farinelli, the North Texas Area Field Representative of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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