History of the Association

     The previous name of our group was the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison County Funeral Directors Association. The original date will remain a mystery as records on hand only date back to the mid 1950’s. A membership roll from 1957-1958 lists over 50 members with names such as Applegate, Autenrith, Bottini,Chapman, Dimbleby, Eannace, Fenner, Fiore, Heintz, Iocovozzi, Hendrix, Matt,  J. S. McGrath, Nunn, Owens, Scala, Strong,  Surridge, and Williams, that continue to identify businesses today. To my knowledge, the two oldest family firms that are still owned by direct descendants are Whiter-Hendrix and W.E. Autenrith, established in 1893 and 1894 respectively. From the same membership roll, there were ten appointed committees including Hospital, Legislation, Business Relations, Veterans and Public Relations.


     The name was changed to Tri-County Funeral Directors Association on March 10, 1964 along with a new Constitution and Bylaws. The purpose of the organization covered items such as high standards,ethical practices, to promote uniformity and cooperation among members and to abide with public authorities and agencies.  


      The original officer format has remained mostly the same today other than the secretary and treasurer were separate positions until 1967. However there are distinct changes in the membership classifications. Up until 1977, dues included membership in both the State and National Funeral Directors Associations for full members. Also, we only have about half of the appointed committees compared to the ten previously mentioned. All meetings were held in restaurants all over our three counties with many of the venues no longer in business. One can only imagine the distractions at meetings when held in public settings. Old minutes prove to be entertaining as libations undoubtedly added flair to the meetings and bar patrons at times expressed their opinions.  In November of1977, the first meeting was held in a funeral home with the host arranging the social hour and dinner at a separate location.


      Sometime after Craig Crowell took the office of secretary-treasurer, the association instituted a health insurance program for its members. This was a good draw for membership however a difficult job for Craig, as he was responsible for collecting premiums. Don Moser handled the task throughout his tenure and in 1987 Eric Newman agreed to take the office of secretary-treasurer if an administrator was appointed to handle the insurance. Sanford Jacobson assumed the role and soon after, Tony Matt secured an arrangement through the UFCW Union, which in turn handled the entire administration of the program for us. After a few years, problems within the Union caused the eventual demise of our insurance program.


      Tri-County was a male dominated organization up until the 1980’s and today our rolls indicate about 15% female licensees, a figure expected to grow in the future. Many spouses within our membership have played an active part in the business and/or co-own the family firm.


     From the early days, our members have hosted yearly Christmas Parties, Ladies Nights, Clam Bakes, Summer Picnics and since the early 1980’s, golf outings. The early golf outings were social events and later became the funding for our scholarship awards. It appears that the first scholarship was awarded in the mid 1970’s and has followed almost yearly when applications were submitted.  Tri-County hosted two NYSFDA Conventions in Utica and also provided yearly hospitality suites throughout the state. Long before Continuing Education came about, this association offered numerous educational seminars often involving clergy and other providers associated with our trade.


     Our first official Continuing Education Program was offered in 2001 by Deborah Orecki, former Director of the NYS Bureau of Funeral Directing. With the introduction of this new law for licensing, our membership grew substantially, to over 100 members today. Deli Rogers did a fine job as our first coordinator for 11 years and provided an equally qualified replacement, Heather Rauch, who has served in this capacity since 2012.


     Tri-County has produced five New York State Funeral Directors Association Presidents; the late Marion Dean, Joseph and Mark Kowalczyk, Brian Roberts and Gordon Terry. Many other members have and continue to serve in various capacities in the State Association.


     In 2013 we applied for Incorporation and 501(c)(6) status followed by a new Constitution and Bylaws in 2014. Many of the new “Aims and Purposes” mirror the 1964 Bylaws with the addition of providing monetary assistance to mortuary science students as well as striving to offer continuing education opportunities.


     TCFDA remains one of the most active associations within New York State. We are proud to have many firms operating in their 3rd and 4th generations. Lifetime friendships have developed among our colleagues and many members regularly assist each other in their individual operations. We should respectively honor those that have served the association throughout the years. Listed below are the past-president and secretary-treasurer positions that our records provide:


1956-57: Stanley Swiatek*

1957-58: Howard Wells*

1958-59: Francis Fisk*

1959-60: Edward Heintz*

1960-62: John Matt, Sr.*

1962-64: Harry Northrup*

1964-66: James Nunn*

1966-68: John G. Ackley*

1968-70: Marion Dean*

1970-72: Gerald Autenrith*

1972-74: James Bly*

1974-76: John Strong*

1976-78: Leonard Hendrix

1978-80: Clyde Gibson*

1980-82: Sanford Jacobson*

1982-84: Brian Roberts

1984-86: James Dean

1986-88: Anthony Matt

1988-90: Vincent D. Iocovozzi

1990-92: David Burgess

1992-94: Steven Taylor

1994-96: Donald Edmunds

1996-98: Thomas Malecki

1998-2003: David Roefaro

2003-2009:  Albert Abdulla

2009-2014: Jana Haldenwang

2014-2018: Scott Hendrix

2018-2023: Bruce Ironside

2023-present: Gordon Terry


Past Secretaries:


1957-1962: Vincent J. Iocovozzi*

1962-1963: Walter Jones*

1963-1964: Malvin Applegate*

1964-1967: James Graves*


Past Treasurers:


1957-1963: Charles McLean*

1963-1967: James Graves*


Past Secretary/Treasurer positions (Officially combined in 1967):


1967-1978: Craig Crowell (Insurance Administrator also)

1978-1979: John Strong* (Insurance Administrator also)

1979-1987: Donald Moser * (Insurance Administrator also)

1987-1993: Eric Newman

1993-1996: James Kloster*

1996 to present: Eric Newman


(*) Deceased


Respectfully prepared by Eric J. Newman

March 2019 

Updated January 2024

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