OGR Annual Professional Service Awards

Golden Light Award | Community Service Award | Exemplary Service Award

By any measure, OGR members are stand-outs in terms of commitment to their profession, their families and their communities. OGR's Professional Service Awards are among the most prestigious accolades in the field, recognizing outstanding contributions and achievements in various categories.

A distinguished panel of industry experts carefully reviews the nominations and selects recipients based on their demonstrated expertise, exceptional client service, and significant impact on their respective fields. The awards will be presented during the Golden Circle Celebration Dinner at OGR's Annual Conference on May 8th at the DeSoto Hotel in Savannah, Georgia. 
Award recipients are also acknowledged in The Independent® magazine, on the OGR website, and other platforms. 

Do you have a friend or colleague who you want to see considered for OGR's highest honor? Do you know a firm (maybe even your own) that has made a significant impact on their community? Then nominate them today! Nominees must be from an OGR member firm. 

For more information about OGR's annual awards, please contact Executive Director/CEO Wendy King via email or by calling (800) 637-8030. 

Golden Light Awardalt

In 2002, OGR instituted its most prestigious award, the Golden Light Award, to salute professional excellence exemplified by individual members who have inspired others by their commitment to service. OGR members nominate a fellow member who have distinguished him or herself in the funeral profession through OGR involvement, community service or volunteer activities that demonstrate "service measured not by gold, but by the Golden Rule."

2024 Golden Light Award Recipient

Tom Hemmerle

Barnett-Strother Funeral Home, LLC.Madisonville, Kentucky

Tom Hemmerle is a true champion of the OGR community, embodying the values of dedication and innovation that the Golden Light Award seeks to honor. As an avid supporter of OGR, he has consistently gone above and beyond to contribute to the organization's success. His time as president demonstrated his strategic acumen and directly saved the association financially, ensuring its sustainability and growth. 

Besides serving on OGR's Board of Directors, he has also served on the association's Nominating Committee and currently serves on the OGR Foundation Board of Directors. His commitment to OGR is impressive. In fact, his funeral home, Barnett-Strother Funeral Home, has been a member of OGR since 1956 and he has seen the organization go through many changes over the years. 

In his community, Hemmerle is an avid supporter of veterans, and hosts an annual toy drive. He has also been recognized for his disaster relief efforts, where he has held drives to help victims who have lost their homes to tornadoes in his area. 

Previous Golden Light Award Recipients

2023 - Rafael "Raffy" Jose, Arlington Memorial Chapels, Quezon City, Manila, Philippines
2022 - Charles Castiglia, MS, CFSP, Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home, Hamburg, NY
2021 - Geraldine "Geri" Oliverie, Oliverie Funeral Home, Manchester Township, NJ
2020 - Peter "Skip" Urban, Urban Funeral Home, Ambler, PA
2019 - Roger Beyers, Beyers Funeral Home and Crematory, Leesburg, FL
2018 - Kayla Carter, Carter-Ricks Funeral Home, Elsberry, MO.
2017 - George Darte, George Darte Funeral ChapelSt. Catharine's, ON
2016 - John Kreidler, Kreidler Funeral Home, McAllen, TX
2015 - John Dallas Slack, CFSP, Slack Funeral Home, Ellicott City, MD
2014 - Randall Earl, Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Homes, Decatur, Ill
2013 - Jeffrey S. Wages, Wages & Sons-Gwinnett Chapel, Lawrenceville, GA
2012 - Guy Linnemann, Linnemann Funeral Homes, Erlanger, KY
2011 - Robin Williams, R. Lee Williams & Son Funeral Home & Crematory, St. Petersburg, FL
2010 - William Brock, Vander Plaat Funeral Home, Wyckoff, NJ
2009 - Charles Rader, LeRoy Rader Funeral Home, Longview, TX
2008 - Harold Lake, Rindt-Erdman Funeral Home, Arkansas City, KS
2007 - Michael G. Butler, Livingston-Butler-Volland Funeral Home & Cremation Center, Hastings, NE
2006 - Thomas P. Lynch, Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors, Milford, MI
2005 - Billy K. Wages, Wages & Sons Funeral Home, Stone Mountain, GA
2004 - Bonnie Helweg-Campbell, Helweg Funeral Service, Jenkintown, PA
2003 - Glenn P. Taylor, Glenn Funeral Home & Crematory, Owensboro, KY

Golden Rule Community Service Award

Launched in 2008, the Golden Rule Community Service Award singles out a member firm for outstanding service as demonstrated by activities benefiting local organizations and/or the community they serve. 


2024 Community Service Award Recipient

Huff-Guthrie Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc., Franklin, Pennsylvania
Huff-Guthrie Funeral Home and Cremation Services won the 2024 OGR Community Service Award for their outstanding contributions to their community throughout the year. Last year, they hosted a series of events that significantly impacted the community, including a Valentine's Lunch, a Butterfly Release Service, a Veterans Day Luncheon, and a Healing Grief Through Art Class. These events attracted hundreds of people from across the community, fostering a sense of togetherness and helping individuals transition from a period of grief to one of healing.

Previous Golden Rule Community Service Award Recipients

2023 - Oliverie Funeral Home, Manchester, NJ
2022 - Jakubs-Waite Funeral Home, Eastlake, OH
2021 - Brunswick Memorial Home, East Brunswick, NJ
2020 - Brunswick Memorial Home, East Brunswick, NJ
2019 - Oliverie Funeral Home, Manchester, NJ
2018 - Gardinier Funeral Home, Franklin, PA
2017 - Toland-Herzig Funeral Homes & Crematory, Dover, OH
2016 - Martin Funeral, Cremation, & Tribute Services, Mt. Morris, MI
2015 - Oliverie Funeral Home, Manchester Township, NJ
2014 - Brunswick Memorial Home, East Brunswick, NJ
2013 - Gardinier Funeral Home, Franklin, PA
2012 - Joseph Pray, Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte, MI
2011 - Miles T. Martin Funeral Home, Mt. Morris, MI
2010 - Brunswick Funeral Home, East Brunswick, NJ
2009 - Arnett & Steele Funeral Home, Pineville, KY

Exemplary Service Awards

altThe Exemplary Service Awards recognize Golden Rule firms that have displayed outstanding professionalism and exemplary service. The Exemplary Service Award is given to the top three nominees every year chosen by OGR members and is based on feedback OGR receives through the Family Contact Program. The Family Contact Program is an exclusive OGR member benefit that gathers feedback from the families served by OGR member firms. Exemplary Service Award recipients must be a current participant in OGR's Family Contact Program and must have received a comment or comments that represent family satisfaction with your services and indicate that the funeral home performed in an exemplary manner going above and beyond the expected. Visit www.ogr.org/family-contact for more information about the Family Contact Program and how to join

2024 Exemplary Service Award Recipients

Askew-Houser Funeral Home, Inc.
Tim Houser
Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania
Kyle Beckwith
Larned, Kansas

Flora Funeral Service, Inc.
Lee Flora
Rocky Mount, Virginia

Zwick & Jahn Funeral Home
Mark Jahn
Decatur, Indiana
Read each of their winning comments below!

Askew-Houser Funeral Home, Inc."My dad has had a very complicated last few years and was not taking care of his personal needs as he should. When we viewed him for the first time it was a blessing to see him look so well and like we all wanted to remember him. He looked like 'our dad' again. Thank you!"

Beckwith Mortuary, Inc. - "Tamara and Kyle Beckwith did a wonderful job! My dad was 93 years old and a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam. Kyle did an outstanding job with the military planning. He placed all the ribbons and patches on my dad's uniform, which took a lot of time to place correctly, so he could be buried in it. Beckwith Mortuary did a great job with everything, it all went so well - my dad would have been so proud."

Flora Funeral Service - "Thank you for allowing us to use his truck instead of the hearse! Just in doing that one wish, it meant the world to us. Everyone went out of their way to prepare for all of our needs and wishes."
Zwick & Jahn Funeral Home - "Mark was the ultimate professional in helping us preplan for the funeral. Mark met every single one of our needs for the day of the funeral with compassion and empathy to help us through a very painful time. He even contacted the restaurant we had for the follow-up meal, during the service, to update them on a much larger attendance than anticipated. From the placement of the chairs and flower arrangements to the entertainment at the cemetery, Mark cared for every detail. Mark was so responsive to meet the needs of visitors waiting in line, increasing seating, and perfect timing of streaming music during the service. He has a very soothing, soft-spoken voice that puts families and visitors at ease. Mark did an outstanding job!"

Previous Exemplary Service Award Recipients