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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Catering to last wishes

  • For those fans, for those lovers of the game, they can have something in death when it comes to what many would call the game of life: A full casket painted Cardinal red with the traditional bird on the bat in the displayed on the inside lid.
    Hannibal funeral home director Jim O'Donnell recently got the casket in his showroom.
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  • For some, baseball is just a game, but for many baseball is life.
    It is part of family history. It is something special beyond words.
    Something that is loved so much, no description of feelings is enough.
    The feelings are strong in what's become Cardinal Nation - the large coverage area of the St. Louis Cardinals, which covers a majority of the Midwest. The baseball team that was once the most western team in baseball, built a huge fan base of radio listeners and television viewers through grandfathers and fathers who passed on and shared that love to their children.
    For those fans, for those lovers of the game, they can have something in death when it comes to what many would call the game of life: A full casket painted Cardinal red with the traditional bird on the bat in the displayed on the inside lid.
    Hannibal funeral home director Jim O'Donnell recently got the casket in his showroom.
    "It's becoming more and more as folks do choose to personalize and tell the stories of their loved ones' lives. Sports are something that a lot of folks are passionate about and this is just kind of a nod to that tribute in that part of their life. It's something that's occurring more and more frequently," O'Donnell said. "I can't tell you how many people say, 'Dad listened to every single game, listened to Mike Shannon, listened to Jack Buck,' and that's just something regardless of technology or satellite radio. There's something about tuning into KMOX and hearing those voices that takes us back. It's just good memories, it really is."
    O'Donnell said it's not uncommon to have the Cardinals logo placed on the lid of the grave vault and to have a baseball themed memorial service. He has seats from Busch Stadium II set aside for such occasions and many different types of baseball memorabilia for display. There's also been requests for jerseys and apparel to be worn at services, the playing of University of Missouri's fight song and even a reception featuring a loved one's favorite food, like hot wings, has been part of a person's final wish.
    And if cremation are final wishes, a Cardinals urn is also an option.
    "Anything that's kind of a nod to who that person was, and makes us smile and think about them, that's something we're seeing a little bit more of," O'Donnell said. "It's anything that we can do to make it more personal and kind of bring to life what that person was about. That's what we want do."
    A little bit of personalization seems to be the trend these days when it comes to memorial and funeral services. Phil Smith of Hannibal's Smith Funeral Home said traditional services are still the norm, but there are times when someone wants something special.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We do have requests for personalization; flag in the panel of the casket or a fraternal organization or something that's very meaningful to the decedent," Smith said. "Themed caskets are available, if there's a request for something of that nature we would certainly be able to accommodate them."
    Unique and specialized options are also conducted at Grand View Funeral Home and Burial Park. Owner Doug Hosmer said a specialized service is rare, but the options are there for families.
    "We can get any casket you want. We have one on the floor, it's for a golfer, it's green with the ball sitting on it. We also got one for a hunter, it's all camouflage and has straps on it so you can put your gun there. We even got a special one for veterans, that is really cool, really nice," Hosmer said. "We've got a Teddy bear, if you get cremated, you are part of the stuffing of the Teddy bear. We even have a picture frame, it's a little bit thicker, you put the ashes behind it and then you put a picture of the person in the frame."
    The Cardinals casket at O'Donnell's funeral home does grab attention and is already drawing interest in reservations. O'Donnell said many don't know it's available until they come in.
    "Most people are not to the point that they realize that's something that's offered. They're used to just a blue, or silver, or copper color. This is something that once most people see it, they either know a close friend or family member — that's them. They would love that. People just know. It's a perfect fit for a lot of families," he said. "More than once I've heard, 'Save that one for me, Jimmy.'"
    Follow on Twitter: @DominicGenetti #Cardinalscasket

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