Lasting Impact Awards
Ernie Heffner, CFuE
Ernie Heffner is a second-generation funeral director who began his career after graduating from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. For over 30 years he has operated funeral home facilities throughout Pennsylvania and New York.
He has served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral association (PCCFA) and the Cremation Association of North America (CANA). Heffner volunteered his time and efforts to the ICCFA for many years, where he chaired both the Hospice and Annual Convention committees. In 2000, Heffner was appointed a Vice President on the ICCFA Board of Directors. He went on to become the founding dean of the College of Cremation Services at the ICCFA University (ICCFAU) from 2005 to 2012. In 2012, Heffner was appointed as the Chancellor of the ICCFAU, which he oversaw for over two years.
Creator of the famous Avenue of 444 Flags, and the War on Terror Memorial, as well as placing the first Canine Companions for Independence grief dog into a funeral home, Tom’s dedication to honor those who have died in the name of freedom and teach future generations of the high price of that freedom, is a testament to his vision, morale code and character. Tom will proudly share this honor with his beautiful dog, Soloman! View the Lasting Impact Award presentation.
Jan Scruggs, recipient of the 2017 Lasting Impact Award from the ICCFA Educational Foundation, envisioned a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., that would include the names of all who died in the war, and spearheaded the effort to get it built. He served as president and director of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund until retiring in 2015.
He now serves on the advisory board for the Global War on Terror Foundation, which is working to build a monument in Washington. He was appointed to chair the Selective Service Appeals Board by President Obama and still serves on the board. View the Lasting Impact Award presentation.
James “Big Jim” Darby
Big Jim is the “Walt Disney” of Trigard and stays involved with every aspect of his family’s business. When he is in the building, the news spreads like wildfire. Employees seek him out and look forward to spending a few moments with him. He is quick to give a pat on the back and encourage them with his trademark phrase, “That’s good stuff!” What began as a small family business has grown to provide jobs for more than 100 employees working in funeral service, manufacturing, customer service, grounds maintenance and horticulture.
Current owners Donna Darby-Walthall, Linda Darby and Rich Darby continue Big Jim’s vision. His other two children, Karen Darby-Ritz and Scott Darby, have also joined the business along with several grandchildren, furthering his dream of a lasting legacy. View the Lasting Impact Award presentation.
Wharmby began his career in the cemetery business more than 42 years ago with the Gibraltar Mausoleum Corporation in Indianapolis, Indiana. For the past 33 years, he served as senior vice president of sales and marketing for Inglewood Park Cemetery and its affiliate, Parklawn Cemetery, in Inglewood, California. He is currently director of sales and marketing for Western Memorial Corporation and Western Sequoia Corporation.
Wharmby has been a speaker for the ICCFA, the National Catholic Cemetery Conference and Asociación Latinoamericana de Parques Cementerios y Servicios Exequiales (the Latin American cemetery association) along with numerous national, regional and state cemetery and funeral groups. He has been active in numerous community projects and has been honored by several groups including the National Council of Negro Women, American Red Cross, Congress of Racial Equality, National Cultural Foundation, Korean War Veterans and Habitat for Humanity.
“Having had the opportunity over the past 42 years to have recruited and trained hundreds of people, both across the country and across multiple cultures, makes this recognition by my peers all the more meaningful,” Wharmby said. View the Lasting Impact Award presentation.
Gary O’Sullivan, CCFE
Gary O’Sullivan, CCFE, is president of the Gary O’Sullivan Company, a consulting firm specializing in the cemetery and funeral profession. Gary is also a nationally recognized speaker, trainer and author. From entering sales at the age of eighteen and selling door-to-door for family-owned businesses to a senior vice president for a publicly traded company, O’Sullivan has experienced most every aspect of the business environment. This exposure has granted him an inimitable knowledge base which allows him to be effective at all levels in an organization.
In his consulting practice, O’Sullivan works with private businesses across the U.S. He helps firms enhance their sales performance, improve customer service and strengthen internal communication. Along with his insight and understanding of how a company’s culture affects all aspects of a business and the value of effective leadership, he brings business to a new level of understanding how to use these intangible assets to further growth.
As one of the nations most in-demand speakers, O’Sullivan has been feature at numerous state, regional, and national conventions. In 2000, he was recognized as the top-rated speaker of the decade by the International Cemetery and Funeral Association. From his keynote presentations to his how-to sales workshops; from his leadership or customer service seminars, to his insights on corporate culture, he continues to be one of the top-rated speakers in our profession today.
With more than 30 years of experience in the cemetery, funeral, and memorialization profession, O’Sullivan has been associated with some of the top firms and organizations across the nation. He has also appeared on the speaking platforms with some of the top sales, marketing and motivational experts both in and out of our profession. He has been the dean of the J. Asher Neel College of Sales and Marketing at the ICCFA University for 18 years.
From his industry classic cassette recording, The Basic Approach to Preneed Selling and ServiceSelling, to his latest CDs and DVDs, Gary continues to upgrade his materials and stay in step with the changes in our profession. His latest book, PrinciplePower for Sales Success, and his soon-to-be released web-based training program, Your Personal Sales Trainer, are the two latest additions to the resource library his company has developed.
For over three decades, O’Sullivan has been in the business of building people to build companies. By uniting service and sales, connecting leadership with culture-focused strategies, he helps companies develop their greatest competitive edge—their people.
Todd W. Van Beck, CFuE
Todd W. Van Beck, CFuE, is a manager of Forest Hill Funeral Home & Memorial Park in Memphis, Tennessee, and a past president of Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service in Houston, Texas. He is a consultant in the funeral service industry and a speaker in high demand who has spoken in Scotland, Ireland, England, Canada, Mexico and throughout the United States. He is an author known for his series of Funerals of the Future, as well as having published four books and 50 training manuals.
Van Beck is a past director of the New England Institute of Mount Ida College. Prior to this, he was the director of education for the Loewen Group (now Alderwoods) and was responsible for implementing programs of professional and managerial training for funeral homes, cemeteries, preneed programs and aftercare programs.
Van Beck earned his undergraduate degree at Mt. Mercy College and his Master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary. He is a licensed funeral director and embalmer and has been the dean of the Funeral Home Management College and the Embalming and Restorative Arts College for ICCFA University for 17 years.