Latest In Funeral Coaches: Velvet Seats, Microwave Oven
May. 09, 1988
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Mourners hoping to get their loved ones to the cemetery in comfort may want to consider the latest in funeral coaches: one with velvet seats and options like a stereo, refrigerator and microwave oven.
The Airstream Family Funeral Coach gets 9 to 12 miles per gallon and eliminates traffic snarls resulting from caravans of mourners traveling to the cemetery, according to its manufacturer.
All this comfort and practicality doesn't come cheap, however. Funeral home directors can expect to pay $52,000 to $73,000 for the aluminum coaches.
The 28-foot vehicle constructed from a motor home chassis can carry 16 people up front and the dear departed in a separate compartment toward the rear. The casket can be surrounded by shelves of flowers and be bathed in spotlight.
''Some of the relatives may not have seen each other for 20 years,'' said Karl H. Croel, salesman for the Ohio-based Airstream. ''The time that they get a chance to talk together is when they're together in the privacy of this coach.''
Airstream displayed one of its coaches at a recent funeral directors' meeting in Indianapolis.
Needham-Storey Funeral Service, which has funeral homes in Marion and Gas City, owns one: a strictly no-frills model lacking many of Airstream's available amenities, such as lavatory.
''We were somewhat skeptical, but we still voted to go ahead and buy it,'' said Steven Wampner, co-owner of Needham-Storey. ''We knew, without a doubt, that it is the (funeral) vehicle of the future.''
Not every funeral director liked the silver-and-black vehicle.
''I think it's a little much,'' said Christina Burkholder, who works at her family's funeral home in Seymour.
She said a hearse or a limousine commands respect. But if onlookers saw the Airstream coach cruising down the street: ''You'd think it was the Brady Bunch going to the Grand Canyon.''