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The Manufacturer: Why We Make This Casket

May 09, 1998

The York Casket Co., one of the nation's leading death-care providers, sells a solid ash casket with a gloss finish that enables funeral-goers to write with markers on the outside without their words running or smearing. York anticipates the casket will be a "big seller in the inner cities," and is aimed at "the teenage market," according to a York salesman quoted in a national magazine article.

Does this casket have appeal to families of youths killed in gang violence? MARY REESE BOYKIN spoke to area funeral home administrators and a York representative about the viability--and good taste--of marketing such a casket.

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NANCY CHRISTOPHERSON

Manager of corporate communications, York Group Inc., Houston

York would get requests for a casket that could be written on. A grandfather had passed, and the family wanted a casket that allowed the grandchildren to say their goodbyes. In another case, a member of an artists' colony had passed away. There was a request for a casket that fellow artists could draw and paint on. We had unfinished caskets that could fulfill these requests. But it wasn't until late 1996 that York introduced a finished casket--York Expressions Caskets--that could be written on without the worry of dripping ink. Grief counselors have indicated that writing, as an expression of grief, helps.

The casket was chosen by families of children murdered in Paducah; the family of a Columbus, Ohio, teacher who was killed when she jumped in front of a van to save her students; the parents of an eighth-grade ice hockey team cheerleader.

This casket is not just for inner-city youths who are killed in gang violence. I am not in favor of gangs, but maybe even with these young people, the casket may provide a glimmer of good, for gang members, too, need to work out their grief when a friend is killed. If the casket can be a vehicle, some good can be made of it.

We make the thing; we can't control what people write. We are pleased to deliver a product to families who find it of value.

It was never introduced with the idea of being York's No. 1 seller. York is just making a product available to people who may find it of value.

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