New York State Funeral Directors Association

Jeff Jennings CFSP

Thank you and Sorry,

Well my term has come to an end, and the year continues to move along fast. I want to take the time to THANK YOU all for the honor and privilege to serve as your President of this fine Association for the past year. It seems like just a few months ago we all met in Saratoga and I had the honor of being installed as your President. Time certainly does not stand still. We have been through a lot this past year, yet your Association stood tall and bravely navigated through some difficult and challenging times.

I have said all along and will continue to say that we are so fortunate to have an Executive Director that is truly unbelievable in his dedication and approach to the success of this Association. Mike Lanotte has been a great source of strength and encouragement to me as your President and fellow Funeral Director.   He is always available at any time for anything that might arise in Funeral Service. Thank you, Mike, for all that you have done, but most importantly, for your friendship.

Along those same lines, our staff at NYSFDA is truly amazing. We as members of NYSFDA can take comfort in knowing that our day-to-day operations are in fine hands, from Pre-Plan, DCCU, Member Services, Media and Government Affairs - our great staff is on it!!! Again, the year was very challenging for them; they too stood tall. Thank you, staff.

To my Executive Committee and fellow Board Members, thank you to all of you for your wisdom, knowledge, guidance and above all your friendship. You have all impacted my life in one way or another and I thank you for your words and ideas either at meetings, in person or on the phone. It was a great honor to serve with you. Rest assured that the future leadership of this Association is in good hands with your new President: Bill Villanova, President-Elect: John Kelly, Secretary: Robert Hogan and welcome aboard our new Treasurer: John D’Arienzo. They will represent the Association well.

I am SORRY that this year is what it is. I missed the opportunity to get to the local association meetings, golf outings and hearing and speaking with you all personally. Cancelling our Regional Meetings and now our Annual Convention is sorrowful to me. I looked forward to the opportunity to lead you in our Town Hall meetings about the face of Funeral Service in New York State regarding alcohol in the funeral home, the enhanced Residency Program, Para-Professional, Chapter Model for local associations and the NEW look of Pre-Plan. Though we could not meet in person, rest assured the Association is working on still hearing your voice about these topics; stay tuned. Convention was another great opportunity to meet, talk and enjoy the company of good friends and colleagues. Hopefully, we can return to the “old way” soon. I have enjoyed my time on the Board and as your President.  I look back on my early years as a Funeral Director and am so grateful that the late R. Barry McPhillips introduced me to this Association.   He was a great believer in NYSFDA and what it stands for, and for that I am grateful.

My last thank you is the most important one of all, THANK YOU to my wife JoAnne, for standing beside me, encouraging me, and always believing in me. If not for all of her love and support, I don’t think this year would have happened. She managed the Funeral Home in my absence as well as still being a wife, mother, and grandmother to our family. Thank you does not seem enough for all that you have done, I promise to put down the phone now!!!

So, enjoy the rest of the summer. Stay safe and healthy and always remember “to enhance the environment in which our members operate and to promote to the highest standards of Funeral Service to the public.”

Thank you for the Honor,

Richard J. Sullivan
NYSFDA President 2019-20