It was on the evening of the last day of 1992 that Bill McNamara called and gave me a New Year’s present. He offered me the priviledge of overseeing the rennovation of an 18,000 sq ft, water damaged, office building into a modern funeral home, located on the grounds of a large, urban cemetery.
That New Year’s Eve telephone call was one of the most significant events of my life.
It was a risky proposition at the time, but our team perservered and expectations were exceeded as the community embraced the idea when the Auman Funeral Home at Forest Hills opened in 1994.
While not revolutionary, one of our “modern ideas” had to do with music and the fact that we didn’t want traditional funeral home music playing, except during a funeral. One day while driving, I heard a commercial on WABC, Newsradio 770, using the tag, “Collage, Music that melts stress away, by Michel Bayan” I had to try it. The morning drive DJ was a guy who went by “Lionel” and he just had fun, playing with the commerical. (An interesting side note. In the link above, Lionel is described as “Liberal” talk show host, but I recall he was very pro-gun back back in the 90’s and WABC was mostly conservative talk then).
Ordering the first CD, then the second, they formed the foundation of our background music. That, along with 150 gallon saltwater fish tank in the community room/lounge and some other “out of the box” ideas, caught the attention of what was a very traditional community.
I had managed to keep my copy of Collage II over the years, but thought Collage I was lost to time. . . until this afternoon when I found it in a miss-labeled jewel case, along with an old business card.
Even the logo, color and orientation of the business card were unique at the time and was the work of a a creative genius from Connecticut named Louis F.D. Kelly. That was the first of two projects he worked on with Bill and I and we lost contact with each other around 2002.
The memories came flooding back, 22 years later.
No stress, just a stroll down memory lane and still thankful that Chip Ray suggested I call Bill about a job.
Such discoveries reassure us that we didn’t do too badly after all!
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