Two cemetery organizations existed for many years in Pennsylvania. The oldest organization, the Cemetery Association of Pennsylvania (CAP), was comprised of superintendents with an interest in groundskeeping and maintenance and little, or no, interest in marketing and sales. Many of their members were the non-profit, fraternal, and religious cemeteries of the state. According to old records, it was founded in 1930’s. The second organization was the Keystone State Association of Cemeteries (KSAC). KSAC was started in the early 1950’s and incorporated in the early 1960’s. Made up of the new bronze (Memorial Park) type cemeteries and aggressive monument cemeteries, these cemeteries were focused on sales and marketing. One of these new concepts was selling packages of graves, vaults and markers before the need (also known as pre-need). A second was giving Pennsylvania families the ability to pay on an installment basis. This gave many families the opportunity to pre-arrange for a family member’s final expense. The leading cemetery owners in PA realized that merging with CAP would be a good thing and over several years in the 1970’s CAP was invited to KSAC conventions and eventually a merger was made consolidating both organizations going into the 1980’s when Aldrich Carpey was president. This union was known as the Pennsylvania Cemetery Association (PCA).
During this same time, and continuing to today, funeral directors have their own association (PFDA). There was a natural clash between funeral directors and cemeteries as cemeteries began selling vaults, a product that once was exclusively sold by funeral directors. Times change and today, cemeteries sell vaults and concrete liners to funeral directors wholesale who, in turn, sell them to their family’s at retail.
As the public companies like Service Corporation International (SCI) and StoneMor surfaced as the first owners of hundreds of cemeteries and funeral homes all over the country including locations here in Pennsylvania. The influence of these aggregators caused cemetery associations to begin to include funeral directors in their associations. Combining the impact of the increase in cremations with the increasing number of funeral directors joining the association, the new PA organization incorporated the letter F for funeral directors and the C for crematories in their current name.
Today, the association known as the Pennsylvania Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association serves Pennsylvania’s deathcare industry with knowledge, fraternity, and advocacy. Old non-profit cemeteries of all denominations all over the country continue to struggle due to the lack of perpetual care funds and cash flow from a diminished number of burials. Additionally, the increase in the number of cremations now account for 60+% of the dispositions in the U.S.
Influential cemetery owners continue to lobby legislators whenever new laws are created or old laws affecting cemeteries are to be amended. These require maintenance of relationships with legislators and meetings in Harrisburg. The late Samuel Saxton in Allentown was probably the most important cemetery owner in Pennsylvania during his long lifetime. He was 94 years old when he died over a year ago. He was a champion for Pennsylvania cemeteries, everyone’s friend, and a well-known figure in Harrisburg.