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Company and Industry News

Rome Monument Company and Memorial Industry News


Rome Monument strives to give our time and resources to the people and organizations of Western PA. Local newspapers and television stations often cover our community involvement, work and acts of kindness. We try to pay it forward as a way of saying thanks to our friends, family and the local communities. Listed below are interesting stories to read about our acts of charity and other memorial industry news, videos and articles.

Rome Monument volunteered its services to help clean the 200 headstones Riverview Cemetery in Kiski Township

Written by by Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair and Published By KUTV On February 2nd 2018
Posted Here On August 6, 2018
(KUTV) After a long history of consumer complaints, the Ogden based monument company, Etched in Stone, is closed.  It is a company on which Get Gephardt has reported several times before. One such report came in 2014, after Debbi Kartchner and Sheila Garcia each demonstrated how the headstones they had purchased were not delivered by the contractually promised delivery date.  Etched in Stone is also no stranger to state regulators. Utah's division of consumer protection fined the company $6,000 last December for violating the Consumer Sales Practices Act.  “This is the third action the division has taken,” DCP Director Daniel O’Bannon says. "We've seen a pattern and that's why we took action.”  Etched in stone has been on the division’s ‘buyer beware’ list since 2007 for having not paid previous citations.  Now, at Ogden City Hall, city officials have revoked Etched in Stone’s business license, effectively forcing the company to shut its doors.  Etched in Stone appealed the suspension to the Ogden City mayor's office but to no avail. In a letter to the company obtained by Get Gephardt, Mayor Mike Caldwell wrote, "I agree with the basis for such suspension and therefore, decline to modify or reverse the administrative order."  Mayor Caldwell also specifically referenced the action taken by the Division of Consumer Protection in his letter.  In 2015, Etched in Stone Owner Wallace Burnside granted Get Gephardt an interview when we showed up at his office. Burnside did not return a call or text message for this story and, Friday afternoon, no one answered the door at the office.  Through the window, the office appears to be cleaned out and the back and side areas that once housed dozens of slabs and stones were vacant.  According to the order suspending Etched in Stone’s business license, Burnside can reapply for a business license after April 30, 2018.  Update: in the hours after this story was broadcast on 2News, Burnside responded, stating that he is insolvent and is closing his business.  He blames state and city regulators as well as the news media for his businesses failings.  Via text message he wrote, in part, “I will miss my customers who's custom art I have loved creating. However I will not miss the self-important bureaucrats or news media who made it their un-appointed agenda to harm my business through relentless propaganda and by inventing multimedia reports against my character! The result being that it only caused further delays by drying up my finances; putting me even further behind. Free enterprise deserves the incentive & privacy to achieve, without the hobbling bias, accusations, and hindrances caused by these narcissistic people. The self-aggrandized media and local governance has, yet again, overstepped where they were not invited, by spreading rumor and fear among the public. Thus, etched in stone design has been injured!”
Written By Tammy Ayer and Published by the The Yakima Herald-Republic on June 3, 2018
Posted Here On August 6, 2018
GRANDVIEW, Wash. -- His name is Tim Morris, but they call him Cemetery Tim. He’s the “Whoop! Whoop!” guy.  You don’t know the “Whoop! Whoop!” guy? Let us introduce you.  Morris sells headstones from his office in Grandview. He ships headstones all over the country and gives away free headstones during Facebook Live videos. He created the Facebook page for his business on May 29, 2017. That’s when they started calling him Cemetery Tim.  “I would name a winner for headstone giveaway and I would clap and say, ‘Whoop! Whoop!’” Morris said recently as he stood at Lower Valley Memorial Gardens outside the city. “Someone called me and said, ‘You don’t realize you’re saying whoop whoop all the time.’” So he was and so he does, more than ever. He has nearly 500,000 likes on Facebook, and those followers embrace it, praising his headstone designs and thanking him for helping people during difficult times. God bless you, they say amid dozens of comments on each of his posts, along with #CemeteryTim and #WhoopWhoop and variations of each. “I put myself in other people’s shoes. ... Make it about the families. You’ve got to help them,” Morris said. “I’ve lowered my pricing a lot because I want to help the families.” He’s a cheerleader for his business, just like any good businessman. But Morris is also a booster of the Lower Valley in general. He and Gloria Mendoza, founder of the GMC Training Institute and a member of the Grandview City Council, co-founded Lower Valley Business Connections in January to unite Lower Valley cities and promote being loyal and buying local.  The organization’s first town hall meeting takes place at 6 p.m. June 11 at 801 Grandridge Road, Grandview. It’s open to the public and will feature several leading Lower Valley business people in what they hope will be the first of many fruitful discussions.  “The idea is to start investing in our Lower Valley community, in partnering with one another, staying to buy local, do business local,” Mendoza said. “Tim’s very passionate about that. He is very passionate about the Lower Valley and just giving back to his community. ... He really lives what he preaches.”  Morris leads and participates in fundraisers for people in need, such as the eight children of Maria Gonzalez-Castillo, who died in June 2017. Her husband, Jaime Alejandre, is accused of killing her and remains in jail; his trial is set for August.  And Morris is passionate about recognizing veterans. He and Command Sgt. Maj. Ramon M. Dang Sr. of the Yakima Training Center are working together for a three-piece headstone at the grave of Staff Sgt. Jack Pendleton, the only Medal of Honor recipient buried in Yakima County. Dang raised $9,038 through a GoFundMe account and Morris designed the memorial, which he hopes to set this summer.  An ebullient guy in a business that could wear down the most positive of people, Morris loves his job and loves where he lives.  “There is no place like the Lower Valley,” he said.  Helping families - Morris has run his headstone design business for about three years, starting it from scratch after managing the Memorial Gardens for about three years. He enjoyed overseeing cemetery operations but decided he wanted to work for himself.  After working at a variety of jobs for most of his 44 years, Morris has found a keeper.  “I found something I’m truly passionate about — helping families,” he said. “That keeps me motivated. That keeps me on track.”  Born in Yakima, Morris grew up in Seattle, where he moved at age 2 with his mother when his parents divorced. His mom, Phyllis Kroum, was born in Sunnyside and grew up in Toppenish. His grandmother, Mary Layman, ran the popular Maria’s Restaurant in Parker for years.  “I never knew what I really wanted to be growing up,” said Morris, who’s single. He has a younger brother, Zach, 31, who is a corrections officer at the state penitentiary in Walla Walla and an Army veteran who served in Iraq. Their mother retired from the U.S. Postal Service and lives in Richland. His first “real” job was in food service, at Cafe Recess in Seattle, he noted in a Facebook post. “I was the busser, prep cook, dishwasher and everything else for $3.35 an hour!” Morris wrote.  During summer vacations, they would return to the Yakima Valley to reconnect with relatives.  After high school, Morris continued in the service industry or sales of some kind. He has sold insurance and worked in construction and real estate, among other jobs, before returning to the Valley for good in 2012.  While a businessman, he also sees himself as a community leader. “I just go from the heart. I dibble and dabble in all kinds of things,” Morris said. “I use my voice as much as I can for things I can stand behind.”  Dang likes his dedication to his work and his causes.  “He is a very responsive guy. That’s the reason why I trusted him with another project I had,” said Dang, who found Morris on Facebook. He designed a plaque for the training center gym to honor Army Capt. Aaron Blanchard, a Selah native who died in a 2013 rocket attack on his forward operating base in Afghanistan. Dang showed it to Morris, who had it cast in bronze with color. The plaque went up in April.  “The entire family was appreciative of it,” Dang said. “It’s like we were cut from the same cloth when we got hooked up together. As much as I want the stuff to get done the right way, he is the same way.”  A name and a story - Pausing at the grave of 1-year-old Isabella Orozco, Morris talked about the process of creating her headstone. Isabella died after being struck by a car in the Sunnyside Walmart parking lot in March 2017. “What we came up with is a diamond etch of Isabella’s photo. ... This is all done by hand, it’s not done by machine,” Morris said. “We have an artist that actually takes a diamond etching tool; he’ll set the photo next to where he’s going to do the etching and he’ll just start shading. ...”  “On top of that, we were able to take it one more step and add color. We added pink and blue to her hat ... a little brown for the fur on her jacket,” he added. “Just a beautiful little girl and a great, great family.”  Once headstones are designed, a large fabrication shop in Seattle crafts them.  “I’m really proud of this one,” Morris said softly at the gravesite of Angel Gabriel Mendoza.  Known as Gabby, Mendoza died in a car accident in November 2015. He was a junior and honor student at Granger High School.  “It’s all done by hand. This took a good 40 hours to make,” Morris said of the large flat granite rectangle etched with images of Mendoza at different ages against a background of wheat. A tall cross in matching black granite towers over the flat stone.  “It was the largest funeral I’ve ever seen. There were lots of family and friends that really loved this guy,” he said.  Headstones range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Even with layaway, it’s a big financial commitment.  Still, “I think everybody should have a headstone. Everybody should have something with their name and some kind of story,” Morris said.  The headstone giveaways help make that happen. He’s given away about 110 headstones since he created the Facebook page, he estimated. Families sometimes just need a break, Morris said.  In February, Morris traveled to Dallas, where he placed a donated headstone at the gravesite of Hector Escobar Jr. Vandals had destroyed Escobar’s grave in 2015. Relatives spoke with a local television station about their hopes of placing a new customized stone there, and word got all the way to Cemetery Tim.  “The poor guy’s grave was torched. I ... selected that family, flew down there and hand-delivered it,” Morris said.  Mendoza met Morris at a business social and initially thought to herself, “That’s got to be an interesting job,” she said. Soon she was impressed.  “As I started hearing his story and seeing the work he’s doing in the Lower Valley to get families to talk about death — that’s not an easy subject to talk about,” Mendoza said. “He does such a nice job about making it an approachable subject.”  She thinks his low-key approach as demonstrated on his Facebook page is a big reason for his success.  “He is always giving back. I think that’s the reason he is doing so well getting followers. People know that he cares,” she said. “He will get in a plane and go to New Mexico to personally deliver a headstone.  “If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what is. He’s wonderful.”
Wife's Bronze Grave Marker Matches Husband's Veterans (VA) Headstone
The flat bronze veterans style grave marker, pictured here, memorializes the wife of a Navy Veteran, Betty M. Fleeger (May 20, 1933 - June 22, 2014). It is an exact replica of the type furnished by the United States Department of Veterans (VA) affairs to her husband, Charles D. Fleeger (March 6, 1930 - January 3, 2001). The inscription on Betty's VA style headstone includes her name, birth date, death date and five words endearment, "Beloved Wife, Mother and Grandmother". A cross was also cast into Betty's bronze plaque. Her husband, and beloved companion, served in the United States Navy during the Korean War. Betty's grave marker was designed and manufactured by Rome Monument to match her husband VA headstone. Charles Fleeger's VA headstone design includes his name, birth date, death date, a cross and his military designation, "PI 2 US NAVY KOREA".  Betty was laid to rest, next to her husband at the St. Peter's Reformed Church Cemetery in Zelienople. The flat bronze grave marker is 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and has a 3/4 inch rise. The weight is about 18 pounds. Anchor bolts, nuts and washers are used to attach the bronze plaque to a 28" x 16" concrete base. Wives and family members of veterans order flat bronze grave markers from Rome Monument that match the free headstones for veterans. Rome Monument sells, designs, manufactures and installs copies of Government-furnished headstones and bronze niche markers that honor wives, spouses and companions of U.S. military veterans. Rome Monument also designs and manufactures custom U.S. military headstones and memorials for veteransClick here to download VA Form 40-1330, Claim For Standard Government Headstone or Marker.  As a side note, the VA also furnishes bronze medallions, upon request, to be affixed to an existing, privately purchased headstone or marker to signify the deceased status as a Veteran. This device is furnished in lieu of a traditional Government headstone or marker for Veterans who served on or after Apr. 6, 1917, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.  For more information on ordering a bronze or granite grave marker that matches the design of veterans grave marker or U.S. Military headstone for a veteran, spouse or dependent, click here.
Watch Rome Monument Build A Private Family Mausoleum On YouTube
In this video, Rome Monument takes you through the steps on how a mausoleum is designed and built. It follows the construction of a Greek Neoclassical-style mausoleum for the Pappan family of Pennsylvania that was installed in Beaver Cemetery, Beaver Pennsylvania in 2015. Rome Monument is a mausoleum construction company, mausoleum contractor and mausoleum builder with over 80 years of experience as a design/builder of private family mausoleums for cemeteries and memorial parks.
Mausoleum Design Plans
Rome Monument builds poured-in-place concrete mausoleums, granite mausoleums and precast mausoleum buildings.  Rome Monument drafts mausoleum design plans using CAD software and present these drawings and renderings to clients for approval before beginning construction.  Click here to see a preliminary family mausoleum construction design plan made using a CAD program.  The mausoleum construction drawings produced by Rome Monument submitted to clients include precise dimensioned architectural plans, structural plans, electrical plans and mechanical specifications. Click here to view pictures of mausoleums designed and built by Rome Monument. Rome Monument designs and constructs one crypt mausoleumstwo crypt mausoleums and family mausoleums.  Rome Monument uses a CAD program to create blueprints, sketches, scaled renderings and drawings for every mausoleum we construct. The details in these files give clients the ability to refine and approve every aspect of the mausoleum construction project. The Rome Monument mausoleum designers, Vince Dioguardi and Chris Morgan provide expert consulting services to clients so that they understand the mausoleum blueprints and essential mausoleum design concepts. Advice is provided regarding the customer's cemetery and plot selection. The mausoleum design plans are also used to provide additional information related to the costs of mausoleum construction. Rome Monument also designs columbarium and estate memorials. For elaborate multiple crypt mausoleum construction projects, Rome Monument provides precise detailed and dimensioned structural, mechanical, electrical and architectural plans to the customer for analysis, discussion and approval. 
As for burial markers with incomplete death years, the Association for Gravestone Studies says they are fairly common. The Greenfield, Mass.-based group explores cemetery markers for historical and artistic perspectives.  Vince Dioguardi, co-owner of Rome Monument, based in Rochester, Pa., is a little more skeptical.  “Does it happen? Absolutely,” he said. “I don’t know that I’d agree that it’s all that common.”  The issue got extra attention 17 years ago, as pre-engraved headstones with death years beginning in 19 henceforth needed to start with 20. Mr. Dioguardi said he’s seen his share of terrible looking “patch and cut” jobs, even a few cases of duct tape and markers. One AGS member in Vermont said she found a marker with the death date, “1999 + 2.”  Typically, it costs about $150 to add the last two digits to an incomplete death year, Mr. Dioguardi said, including finishing the earlier work of another monument company.  Gravestones remain incomplete for a number of reasons. The surviving spouse named on a pre-engraved headstone gets re-married and is buried with the new partner. The person moves away, as Florence did. Family feuds, indifference and insufficient funds are also factors.
Penn Hills council has decided to move its monument honoring the municipality’s fallen police officers to the site of a new municipal building that will be located on Duff Road.  Council’s decision on Feb. 5 came after an emotional discussion of whether the monument would be moved to the new $12.3 million municipal building — on the site of the former Penn Hebron Elementary School — or would be situated at the site of the current municipal building on Frankstown Road after it is torn down.  Fallen police officers’ family members were among those to make their views known.  The new municipal building, which will house police and EMS and include a firefighter training area, is scheduled to be completed this summer.  Erected in 1973, the monument is dedicated to the memories of Penn Hills police Sgt. William Schrott and Officer Bartley Connolly, who were killed in the line of duty on March 25, 1972. After Officer Michael Crawshaw was killed while on duty on Dec. 6, 2009, the memorial was expanded in 2010 and includes an engraved granite marker in his honor.  Before council made its decision, Mayor Sara Kuhn outlined a plan that would keep the monument at its present location as part of a memorial town center with a pavilion and walking path.  “This monument is to remind us that some of those who protect and serve, are killed needlessly,” the mayor said. “The location was not an oversight. When it was determined that the frontage of the new building had to be reduced, we realized that the site is no longer acceptable for the monument’s relocation.”  Because of the sloping terrain, the location of the new building was changed. Therefore, there were fewer options for the monument’s location.  “There is no leaving the fallen officers behind. The plan is to make a memorial park to remind everyone of their sacrifice,” Mrs. Kuhn said.  The mayor’s proposal elicited no support among council meeting attendees, which was full of the fallen officers’ family members, co-workers and friends.  Representatives of the families of Sgt. Schrott and Officers Connolly and Crawshaw said they believe the monument must be relocated to the site of the new police headquarters.  “I cannot understand why no one reached out to the families, that they didn’t consider our wishes. This has opened a deep wound,” said Joanne Alexander, the daughter of Sgt. Schrott. “You may think it has been many years, but the pain does not lessen. The only acceptable solution is to move the monument. We feel that by leaving the monument at the present building, it will be forgotten.  “We want it to be where present-day officers will not forget their fallen brothers. We feel there is a suitable location at the new building.”  As Ms. Alexander showed Mrs. Kuhn a map of the new site, Penn Hills police Officer John Debasi gave council another perspective.  “Some officers tonight were presented with certificates, but these men [Schrott, Connolly and Crawshaw] and their families made the ultimate sacrifice.”  John Diogardi, representing Rome Monument, offered to do the relocation for free. “You’ve got a beautiful story. You’ve got our support,” he told council.
The Fight for the Right to Be Cremated by Water
"Aquamation," a greener form of body disposal, is gaining acceptance in America. But some powerful groups are fighting to stop it.  The process also uses about 300 gallons of water per body, or three times as much as the average person uses in a day. And while replacing cremation with aquamation would have some climate benefits, they wouldn’t be as huge as, say, getting rid of coal-fired power plants—which is perhaps why there are no large environmental advocacy campaigns to change the death care industry.  Processes like aquamation require an acceptance of becoming part of it.  If more people respect the planet in death, it bodes well for how they’ll treat it while they’re still alive.
Rome Monuments is a cemetery headstone and gravestone retail company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
It’s a fact, nobody is getting out of this life alive.  What’s controlable is where and how remains will be laid to rest.  Burial space has closed at three of the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-run National Cemeteries in North Carolina though Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville has space available.  In Eastern North Carolina, the landscape is dotted with grave sites from a small burial plot on the edge of a farm to large scale, commercial enterprises where thousands of people are buried or housed in mausoleums.  Large scale commercial operations such as Onslow Memorial Park outside Jacksonville on U.S. 258 and Seaside Memorial Park in Swansboro have combined more than 11,000 grave sites filled with room for expansion. Opened in 1952, Onslow Memorial Park is an oasis off a busy highway with gravesites covered with flowers and a second mausoleum in the works.  Some in the industry feel the rising cost to embalm and bury a person in a casket is moving people to cheaper alternatives.
February 23, 2018
When a large headstone got knocked over, Grove Cemetery in New Brighton, PA didn’t have the people, equipment or money to fix it and needed some help.  The memorial for a man named Yee — a highly regarded doctor buried in Beaver County’s Grove Cemetery in 1979 — was found knocked over.  Rome Monument fixed Dr. Yee’s monument in Grove Cemetery for free.
Read an overview of the death care industry in the United States along with news, companies, trends, statistics, industry forecasts, research, memorial products and funeral services.

News Report Aired by WPXI on September 11, 2015, Amy Marcinkiewicz of WPXI Did the Story

Dedicated: Sewickley Memorial Recognizes Western PA's Tuskegee Airmen
September 16, 2013

Mausoleum Construction Company
Rome Monument is a mausoleum construction company, mausoleum contractor and mausoleum builder with over 80 years of experience as a design/builder of private family mausoleums for cemeteries and memorial parks.  Our mausoleum construction standards are rigorous and meticulous.

In 2013, Rome Monument was proud to coordinate the design, placement and engraving of the Tuskegee Airmen Monument located in the Sewickley Cemetery. Dedicated in September, the Tuskeegee Airmen Memorial, it is the largest outdoor memorial in the country honoring the first African-American military pilots and support staff who were members of the 332nd Fighter Group, nicknamed the “Red Tails.” Almost 100 members of the World War II unit were from western Pennsylvania and their names are carved on two of the four granite monuments that make up the memorial. The other two monuments contain the history of the elite military group and one, a 10-foot-high piece, features an airplane tail sculpted from red granite, representing the origin of the unit’s nickname.

'Miracle' product undoes grave marker damage in Riverview Cemetery
Sept. 25, 2015

Rome Monument tries extremely hard to give back to the local communities in Western PA.  In 2015, Rome Monument volunteered its services to help clean the 200 headstones defaced with red paint in Riverview Cemetery in Kiski Township. A local newspaper published a story titled 'Miracle' product undoes grave marker damage in Riverview Cemetery explained the project. "Before we came in, we weren't sure it was going to work,” said John Dioguardi, retired owner of Rome Monuments. “Everything we have ever used never worked this well.” He said one benefit is that the product is not affecting the darkening agent used on the lettering. It's not leaving a ghost mark where the red paint was. “So what's happening is it's returning to what it looked like before,” Dioguardi said. “It's a miracle.”

In 2013, Rome Monument worked with Grove Cemetery volunteers to get final recognition for forgotten veterans by making and installing grave markers at the Grove Cemetery for James Howard Bruien and Nathaniel Coburn.

John Dioguardi and Rome Monument Help Restore Historic Cemeteries
Published in Allegheny West Magainze in December 2011

In 2012, Urbach Memorials, a division of Rome Monument, donated a 6-foot-tall, 3-ton granite monument to the New Light Cemetery, in Shaler Township, PA.

In 2010, Rome Monument's Urbach Memorials restored 30 destroyed gravestones discovered in the Beth Hamedrash Hagodol-Beth Jacob Cemetery in McKees Rocks, PA

In 2002, Rome Monument's Urbach Memorials Branch Repaired Toppled Gravestones in the Beth Hamedrash Hagodol-Beth Jacob Cemetery in McKees Rocks, PA

Groundbreaking for Tuskegee Airmen Memorial at Swickley Cemetery
Published in IN Sewickley Area by IN Community Magazines, Winter 2011 Edition

Rome Monument Co-Sponsors Black Angels Over Tuskegee