My Farewell To A Friend and Advocate
Today I spent some time writing some sentiments to the family of a good friend, colleague, and funeral service professional I have known since I was just a ‘tyke’ starting in the profession. I’d been a fan of his publications long before I ever actually met and came to be acquainted with him. He became my ‘great white hope’ at the end of my mortuary science college education..at graduation time we were still not being apprised about when the state Dept of Consumer Affairs Funeral & Cemetery Bureau was going to allow the examinations to be held so we could get our hard-earned licenses….below is the Condolence Letter I sent to his family…I figured it would be a fitting post, as well….CJ
In memory of Mr. Ron Hast, who died on August 20, 2013
To Whom It Concerns:
Here is my personal condolence for Mr. Hast. I just wanted his family, and all of his peers, to know what he meant to me. And what I thought he represented to all of us, collectively, as brothers and sisters, serving in funeral service. I no longer practice, sadly. I seriously injured my back many years ago. And though I was able to return to work doing 100% of all I’d done plus the extra load I’d been given, the corporate firm I worked for ‘opted out’ of keeping me with my lifting restriction once 12 months had expired. I now write a blog on WordPress about my experience in the profession, as well as promote education and information about death, dying, grief and loss. It was my life’s ambition to work as a funeral director and embalmer and my world seemed to have ended when I was no longer allowed to do so. I feel I have finally returned to serving a purpose in the death care community.
In my heart, I will always be a funeral service professional.
Dear Family & Friends of Mr. Ron Hast,
I am greatly saddened to hear about the passing of Mr. Hast. He was instrumental in making the D.C.A. toe the line back in 1999, after I contacted him to tell him about the fact that no embalming exams had been given in a couple of years and that our Cypress graduating class had no idea when or even IF we would get to take exam. Our school administrators called D.C.A. every day for months…no calls were returned…nothing! So I wrote Ron and he got right on it and within 2 months of our graduation, there was an exam. He was the go-to man for all things business in funeral service. We really lost a great friend, comrade, and peer.
Recently, I had been thinking about writing him to ask about possibly becoming a contributor to his Mortuary Management magazine. I really wished I had, now. He was such a down to earth person…warm and personable…but he had a tiger inside him when he needed to make some noise, as in the case of the embalming exam fiasco.
It is so odd, too, that last month I should unpack a big box of all of the school books and binders and apprentice embalming reports I had put away up in the closet over 12 years ago…and I found the bundle of each and every email and piece of correspondence we had traded, along with my treasured “proof” copy of the not yet pressed Funeral Service Monitor which talked about how we got the CA D.C.A. to act immediately to find the transcripts, the fee monies, and schedule that exam for the graduates of my class and those that had graduated in the two years prior. As I re-read those old letters and the press clippings, I felt a sense of pride swell once again. The story went national, as well ( AP/UPI).
It was a very proud moment for me; and it was such an honor that he wanted me to be the first person to see the article before it went to press.
What an exciting and rewarding feeling to work with a true master in the business of getting answers and getting things accomplished!
I will never forget that, nor will I forget the great man he was. The California embalmer’s licensees who took that exam in October of 1999 really have Mr. Ron Hast to thank for making it happen; I merely expressed my disappointment and yes, outrage, too, that D.C.A. was not held to follow their very own ‘rules’ and ‘regulations’ at that point in time and I wasn’t going to go away without taking whatever action I could find to take to make it known. He was the first and only person who instantly came to mind. He could be relied upon. Depended upon. He came through!
The Dean at my Mort Sci Program was beyond frustration in his attempts to reach D.C.A. His face absolutely lit up when I told him what I’d done. I got hugs and cheers. I was a little embarrassed to be the ‘hero’ of the day at school. I do not care for all that attention. I just wanted my classmates and the faculty to be able to relax and know that it was going to happen, and that our years of hard work to reach that exam were about to reach fruition.
Ron could be counted upon to be a big support for the funeral service professionals all over, not just here in California. He certainly set the standard for reporting the truth, and for researching what he reported. He will surely be missed.
I believe the upcoming new professionals will be missing such an important role model as they begin their careers. It is unfortunate that he was taken away from us so soon. We can help to promote the legacy he leaves, and mentor the incoming professionals by exemplifying what a true death care professional is all about. We can serve others with compassion and the highest ethical standards possible. Times maybe changing rapidly, but they won’t be able to change without our timeless commitment to serve others in building trust and confidence in lock-step all the way. When something could be the faster, cheaper, or less complicated way to get the job done, we must remember that the families we serve deserve 100% of our good-faith effort, honesty in discussions of business, and dedication to making a memorable tribute to their loved one our first focus and ultimate goal.
Mr. Hast operated that way. That is the way so many of us do. That is the only way we will have the communities we serve remain ours to serve in the future.
He had some big shoes to fill. At the same time, so very many of us are so much the richer for the fantastic coverage his publications gave to the myriad legislative changes, trends, and all-around funeral service news.
I especially liked that he was not afraid to publish details about the ‘bad apples’ in this profession…after all, it pays to know who is doing wrong and to know they are being shamed before their peers…their misdeeds hurt ALL of us in this very specialized, personal care profession. He worked to put a proud and honorable image out for funeral professionals and funeral service.
God Bless You, Ron. Thank You for being a beacon of guidance and help to all who are in service to others. Until we all are joined again, rest in peace, my dear friend.
With heartfelt sympathy,
” C J ”
September 2, 2013