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The Journey Begins

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca and Doris V. Amen are two well-known and respected names in funeral service.
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Alexandra Kathryn Mosca, a first-generation funeral director, found her calling in funeral service when she worked in her first funeral home while attending college. Licensed for more than 35 years, Mosca is a regular contributor to industry magazines: American Funeral Director, American Cemetery, and the Director. She is also the author of three books: Grave Undertakings (2003), Green-Wood Cemetery (2008), and Gardens of Stone (2016).

Mosca is passionate about cemetery preservation, and has not only written extensively on the subject, but has served as a cemetery tour guide. She is firmly convinced that, “People need a place to memorialize their loved ones and cemeteries provide that.” Despite news items to the contrary, Mosca believes that the traditional funeral isn’t (and shouldn’t be) going away any time soon. An article she wrote for The Saturday Evening Post’s Jan./Feb. 2018 issue, titled ‘Let’s Keep the Funeral Traditional Alive’ makes a persuasive case for its importance.

Mosca’s recent articles for Next Avenue A Funeral Home Director’s View of the Pandemic, The Saturday Evening Post Funeral Service in the Time of COVID-19 and Sixty + Me  Post Pandemic Funeral Service – Can We Find Some Normalcy? lay bare what seasoned funeral directors have coped with in these dark days of COVID-19.

Doris V. Amen, is also a first-generation funeral director. Since 1989, she has owned the Jurek-Park Slope Funeral Home in Brooklyn, located just blocks away from historic Green-Wood Cemetery. Over the years, Amen has been the cemetery’s “go to” funeral director.  When it comes to arranging a funeral, Amen’s motto is: “You can do it fast or you can do it right. There are no retakes.”

Amen has been the subject of numerous documentaries, as well as a favorite of the Press. She has been interviewed by a wide range of publications, including The New York Times.  In 2015, Amen self-published I’m Dying To Tell Ya!!!: True Tall Tales of a Brooklyn Funeral Director, a compilation of some of Amen’s  most memorable experiences in funeral service. She is also involved with Park Slope Films, an independent film company, based in Brooklyn. And every October, an invitation to  Amen’s legendary Halloween Party becomes the most coveted one in New York City.

Melissa Johnson Williams, a founding member of The Morte Girls, is a second generation funeral director, based in Chicago. Licensed for 40 years, she is the daughter of Edward C. and Gail R. Johnson. Sought after for her embalming expertise (in both practice and theory), Williams was the co-founder of the American Society of Embalmers, along with Robert G. Mayer. The organization was dedicated “to promulgate and promote excellence in the 21st century practice of mortuary arts and sciences.” Williams has authored more than 100 articles and book chapters, and conducted continuing education programs for funeral service professionals. One of her standout articles is: A Social History of Embalming.

Williams believes strongly in the gift that a properly embalmed body can be to a grieving family. “I love the work that we do as embalmers. We can give a family back their loved one after a terrible illness, horrible accident or natural death. Through embalming, the family and friends can have the time they need to say good bye regardless the method of final disposition; burial, entombment or cremation. Seeing the deceased one last time can be a great gift to a family,” she said.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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Sir William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898)

A time-honored maxim by British Prime Minister William E. Gladstone guides all good funeral directors: “Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.”

We couldn’t agree more.