Content here represents the voice of SIGNATURE SUNSETS, an informational initiative designed to broaden and brighten horizons in the funerary domain.

The material is an outgrowth of a pre-planning reference book, Pondering Leaves: Composing and Conveying Your Life Story's Epilogue, written by the author of this blog.


Monday, October 7, 2013




How do you spell ENTHUSIASM?  One way is by assembling the letters JOHN R. HERZIG.  This is a man whose avocation parallels his vocation.  The two fit together like a key in a keyhole.  At the Toland Herzig Funeral Homes & Crematory, this funeral director is also a funeral collector. 

His passion for amassing funeral programs and mementos began in 1996 as a hobby originally confined to collecting only autographs.  Upon requesting an autographed photo of the boxer, Joe Louis, someone also sent him the program from his funeral service.  That sparked an interest in gathering items from the funerals of celebrities, including performers, authors, historical figures, and others.

So the Famous Endings Funeral Collection that is part of the funeral facility materialized into a ever-growing resource to “honor and remember those who touched our lives.”  

Among the gleaned artifacts are photos, audio recordings, Mass cards, and mementos originally distributed at funerals.

Many pieces are displayed in cabinets, but some exhibits also decorate walls.  Among them are memorabilia boards featuring President Eisenhower as well as the boxer, Joe Frazier.

Unique forms of memorabilia include a lamp from a vintage funeral coach.

Expansive displays in cabinets and on walls include: a Civil War funeral flag, the accordion used to play a farewell tune for Franklin Roosevelt, President James Garfield’s mourning vests, Don Ho’s memorial photo shirt and lei, a 1958 worksheet used to calculate funeral expenses for Elvis Presley’s mother, Casey Stengel’s funeral guestbook and floral cards, a stuffed animal replica of Lamb Chop, the puppet associated with Shari Lewis and given to funeral guests as a memento, launch certificates and capsules from the legacy flights of James Doohan’s and Gene Roddenberry’s cremated remains in space, and SO MUCH more!

Though John Herzig has recounted tales of the past represented by these artifacts countless times for multitudes of people, his spirited interaction exudes an eagerness to share what he knows.  He churns out detailed information from his brain as if spewing forth facts from a history text.  While tending to the care of bodies, this prolific man who exemplifies duality certainly has put his keen mind to good use.  He brings cultural icons to life!

Besides availing himself for personal interactions on site, either individually or for tours, he serves as a speaker at community meetings to spread the word about the personalities whose lives and deaths he has studied.  Beyond the presentations, he also maintains a blog, with exciting new entries as time passes.

When traveling through Ohio, you might not spontaneously think of a funeral home as a tourist mecca.  But since busloads of people pass through the funeral home’s museum, it’s obvious that many sightseers choose this as a destination – just not necessarily their final one!

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