The National Funeral Directors Association contributed $100,000, and four firms each pledged $25,000 in support of this giving initiative.

Brookfield, Wis. –  In stewardship of its mission to support funeral service in building meaningful relationships with the families and the communities it serves, the Funeral Service Foundation is pleased to announce $200,000 in lead gifts and pledges from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), Bob and Judy Arrington, Pat and Sue Patton, R. Bryant and Cathy Hightower, and Mark Krause in support of its new Fund ‘45 funding giving initiative.

LargerFund45LogoFund ’45 honors the Foundation’s roots and expands its capacity to fund academic scholarships, mission-focused outreach and continuing education and professional development opportunities, such as NFDA’s Meet the Mentors program and Professional Women’s Conference, the association’s new Arranger Training program, and Certified Crematory Operator (CCO) and Certified Preplanning Consultant (CPC) certification programs.

The Foundation introduced Fund ‘45 and recognized the fund’s inaugural gifts during last month’s NFDA International Convention & Expo in Philadelphia, Penn., which is the world’s leading and largest gathering of funeral professionals.

Fund '45 Gifts

Foundation Executive Director Danelle O’Neill (center) and 2016-17 Foundation chair Bill Wappner (far right) accept gifts from (l-r) NFDA CEO Christine Pepper, Bob and Judy Arrington and Cathy and R. Bryant Hightower. Pepper presented NFDA’s $100,000 Fund ‘45 lead gift on behalf of the association’s 10,000 rooftops, and the Arringtons and Hightowers presented $100,000 in Fund ’45 lead gift pledges on behalf of Arrington Funeral Directors, Krause Funeral Home & Cremation Service, R. Bryant & Cathy Hightower and Pat & Sue Patton, Patton-Schad Funeral & Cremation Services.

NFDA CEO Christine Pepper presented the association’s $100,000 lead gift on behalf of NFDA and its 10,000 rooftops to Bill Wappner, 2016-2017 Foundation Chair during the convention’s opening general session. “NFDA is a long-time Funeral Service Foundation supporter and we have been honored to witness the Foundation’s positive impact on all of funeral service,” said Pepper. “Our NFDA and Funeral Service Foundation partnership has a long and rich history.  Like the Foundation, we at NFDA believe in the future of funeral service, and we are pleased to know that our gift will help provide the Foundation with the resources necessary to enrich, engage and inspire our profession. We look forward to continuing our support and helping advance the Foundation’s critical mission.” 

Wappner also recognized and thanked Bob and Judy Arrington, Pat and Sue Patton, Bryant and Cathy Hightower and Mark Krause for their respective $25,000 Fund ’45 pledges. “We are truly fortunate to have the support of these innovative funeral service professionals,” he said. “These individual gifts are inspiring and will help us fulfill the vision established by our founders.”

Wappner encouraged convention attendees double their impact and join their peers in supporting Fund ’45 as part of a minimum $22,500 dollar-for-dollar matching gift pledge from, which runs through December 31.  Aimed at raising an additional $45,000 in support of the fund, donations at every level are accepted; those who contribute $45 or more will receive a commemorative Fund ’45 lapel pin. Learn more about the initiative and make a donation at

About the Funeral Service Foundation –

Since 1945, the Funeral Service Foundation has served as the profession’s philanthropic voice. As the charitable arm of the National Funeral Directors Association since 1997, the Foundation receives operational support from NFDA and donors across the profession to help advance its mission support funeral service in building meaningful relationships with the families and the communities it serves.