FROM THE ARCHIVES: ‘Death care’ article explores funeral costs

By SIERRA J. RUSSELL

The health care industry has received lots of media coverage in recent months, but a 1976 Aztec Press article explored the “death care industry.”

The student newspaper wrote about the costs of funerals, burials and cremation.

At the time, full-service funerals ranged from $500 to $4,000. Today, the average cost of a funeral and burial costs between $7,000 and $10,000, according to the website funeral-tips.com.

Both in 1976 and today, cremation services cost considerably less. In the mid-1970s, a cremation service could be purchased for less than $300. The current price is approximately $1,600 for a cremation and basic memorial service. The 1976 article warned about additional fees that might be tacked on, such as staff services, preparation, facilities and supplies. The additions might easily double the cost.

“It’s the extra things they add on,” Beatriz Rivera said after attending a funeral. “The little things you don’t stop to think about.”

At the time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office had filed an anti-trust lawsuit against all Tucson funeral homes.

An assistant U.S. attorney said the suit involved industry collusion in price fixing for county-contracted burials, and price fixing by the industry in its dealings with the public.

Tucson mortician Jay McCaffery denied the allegations.

“I’ve embalmed 10,000 people since I’ve been in business and I’ve never worried my customers about money,” he said.

“I don’t believe anyone should have to worry about that.”

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