OGR Annual Professional Service Awards

Golden Light Award | Community Service Award | Exemplary Service Award

By any measure, OGR members are stand-outs in terms of commitment to their profession, their families and their communities. OGR's Professional Service Awards are among the most prestigious accolades in the field, recognizing outstanding contributions and achievements in various categories.

A distinguished panel of industry experts carefully reviews the nominations and selects recipients based on their demonstrated expertise, exceptional client service, and significant impact on their respective fields. The awards will be presented during the Golden Circle Celebration Dinner at OGR's Annual Conference on May 8th at the DeSoto Hotel in Savannah, Georgia. 
Award recipients are also acknowledged in The Independent® magazine, on the OGR website, and other platforms. 

Do you have a friend or colleague who you want to see considered for OGR's highest honor? Do you know a firm (maybe even your own) that has made a significant impact on their community? Then nominate them today! Nominees must be from an OGR member firm. 

For more information about OGR's annual awards, please contact Executive Director/CEO Wendy King via email or by calling (800) 637-8030. Nominations must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on January 31, 2024. 

2024 Golden Rule Community Service Award Nomination Form
2024 Golden Light Award Nomination Form

Golden Light Awardalt

In 2002, OGR instituted its most prestigious award, the Golden Light Award, to salute professional excellence exemplified by individual members who have inspired others by their commitment to service. OGR members nominate a fellow member who have distinguished him or herself in the funeral profession through OGR involvement, community service or volunteer activities that demonstrate "service measured not by gold, but by the Golden Rule."

2023 Golden Light Award Recipient 

Rafael Jose (Raffy)
Arlington Memorial Chapels, Quezon City, Manila, Philippines

Raffy, a visionary and innovative funeral director, has made significant contributions to OGR over the years. He served on the OGR Board of Directors for a four-year term, bringing a fresh perspective on global issues, emerging trends, DEI, and creative solutions.  Presently, Raffy holds the position of Chair in the OGR Professional Development Committee, where he actively contributes to shaping the content for webinars and the Annual Conference. Additionally, he co-leads the OGR International Study Group, providing valuable insights and feedback to fellow professionals to facilitate the growth of their businesses.

Raffy places great emphasis on active community involvement for his funeral home and staff. In 2023, the Arlington team organized the Yuletide Remembrance Tree celebration at Hospicio de San Jose, a foster care institution catering to orphans, the abandoned, and the elderly. Through this initiative, Arlington donated Php270,000 to support the institution's ongoing endeavors. 

During the Department of Education's week-long event called Brigada Eskwela, aimed at improving public school infrastructure, members of the Arlington team dedicated their time to volunteer, assisting with renovations and cleaning the school campus. In June 2020, the Arlington family launched a commemorative book on grief titled "Turning the Page." This heartfelt compilation comprises letters, stories, prayers, and poems focusing on love and loss. The proceeds from this fundraising project were directed towards providing protective gear for frontline workers in public hospitals.  Raffy has made many other accomplishments throughout his career, including:

  • Arlington Memorial Chapels celebrated 40 years of family funeral care in 2022
  • Raffy served as Rotary Club Centennial President in 2005
  • Raffy was the first Celebrant in Asia and the Philippines after receiving training from the In-Sight Institute in 2002
  • Raffy received six Pursuit of Excellence Awards and three Best of the Best Awards (2011, 2017, 2020) from the National Funeral Directors Association
  • Raffy has a B.S. in Business Management from the Ateneo De Manila University. He also completed a post-graduate course in Managing Family Corporations at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and in Celebrant Training at the In-Sight Institute.

"Raffy's forward-thinking approach as a funeral director has been invaluable to both OGR and the profession as a whole,” said OGR President Christopher Miller. “His significant contributions over the years have made a tremendous impact and elevated our profession."

Past Golden Light Award Recipients

2022 - Charles Castiglia, MS, CFSP, Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home, Hamburg, NY
2021 - Geraldine "Geri" Oliverie, Oliverie Funeral Home, Manchester Township, NJ
2020 - Peter "Skip" Urban, Urban Funeral Home, Ambler, PA
2019 - Roger Beyers, Beyers Funeral Home and Crematory, Leesburg, FL
2018 - Kayla Carter, Carter-Ricks Funeral Home, Elsberry, MO.
2017 - George Darte, George Darte Funeral ChapelSt. Catharine's, ON
2016 - John Kreidler, Kreidler Funeral Home, McAllen, TX
2015 - John Dallas Slack, CFSP, Slack Funeral Home, Ellicott City, MD
2014 - Randall Earl, Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Homes, Decatur, Ill
2013 - Jeffrey S. Wages, Wages & Sons-Gwinnett Chapel, Lawrenceville, GA
2012 - Guy Linnemann, Linnemann Funeral Homes, Erlanger, KY
2011 - Robin Williams, R. Lee Williams & Son Funeral Home & Crematory, St. Petersburg, FL
2010 - William Brock, Vander Plaat Funeral Home, Wyckoff, NJ
2009 - Charles Rader, LeRoy Rader Funeral Home, Longview, TX
2008 - Harold Lake, Rindt-Erdman Funeral Home, Arkansas City, KS
2007 - Michael G. Butler, Livingston-Butler-Volland Funeral Home & Cremation Center, Hastings, NE
2006 - Thomas P. Lynch, Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors, Milford, MI
2005 - Billy K. Wages, Wages & Sons Funeral Home, Stone Mountain, GA
2004 - Bonnie Helweg-Campbell, Helweg Funeral Service, Jenkintown, PA
2003 - Glenn P. Taylor, Glenn Funeral Home & Crematory, Owensboro, KY

Golden Rule Community Service Award

Launched in 2008, the Golden Rule Community Service Award singles out a member firm for outstanding service as demonstrated by activities benefiting local organizations and/or the community they serve. 


 2023 Community Service Award Recipient

Oliverie Funeral Home, Manchester Township, NJ
Supporting their local community is essential to the Oliverie Funeral Home. Throughout the year, they support local organizations through special events at their funeral home. The Oliverie Funeral Home team worked with other organizations within the community to help expose the benefits of joining the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore. They feel strongly about supporting women in the community, helping them obtain leadership positions and learning that there are no boundaries to what they can accomplish. During the 2022 Labor Day weekend they provided hotdogs with all the fixings, snacks, drinks and 150 donated boxes of Girls Scout Cookies to anyone in the Ocean County area. They wanted to feed police officers, EMTs, firefighters and medical personnel in Ocean County working that weekend and those that were either retired or off duty.

Past Golden Rule Community Service Award Recipients

2022 - Jakubs-Waite Funeral Home, Eastlake, OH
2021 - Brunswick Memorial Home, East Brunswick, NJ
2020 - Brunswick Memorial Home, East Brunswick, NJ
2019 - Oliverie Funeral Home, Manchester, NJ
2018 - Gardinier Funeral Home, Franklin, PA
2017 - Toland-Herzig Funeral Homes & Crematory, Dover, OH
2016 - Martin Funeral, Cremation, & Tribute Services, Mt. Morris, MI
2015 - Oliverie Funeral Home, Manchester Township, NJ
2014 - Brunswick Memorial Home, East Brunswick, NJ
2013 - Gardinier Funeral Home, Franklin, PA
2012 - Joseph Pray, Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte, MI
2011 - Miles T. Martin Funeral Home, Mt. Morris, MI
2010 - Brunswick Funeral Home, East Brunswick, NJ
2009 - Arnett & Steele Funeral Home, Pineville, KY

Exemplary Service Awards

altThe Exemplary Service Awards recognize Golden Rule firms that have displayed outstanding professionalism and exemplary service. The Exemplary Service Award is given to the top three nominees every year chosen by OGR members and is based on feedback OGR receives through the Family Contact Program. The Family Contact Program is an exclusive OGR member benefit that gathers feedback from the families served by OGR member firms. Exemplary Service Award recipients must be a current participant in OGR's Family Contact Program and must have received a comment or comments that represent family satisfaction with your services and indicate that the funeral home performed in an exemplary manner going above and beyond the expected. Visit www.ogr.org/family-contact for more information about the Family Contact Program and how to join

Click here to view the 2023 Exemplary Service Award Nominees.

2023 Exemplary Service Award Recipients

Singleton Funeral & Cremation Services
Pamela Hovatter
Glen Burnie, MD

Janowiak Funeral Home
Christopher Janowiak
Ypsilanti, MI 

Chiles-Laman Funeral & Cremation Services
H. Robert Laman
Lima, OH


Read each of their winning comments below!

Singleton Funeral & Cremation Services

"We had a very positive experience from the moment we made the first phone call (which was on Christmas Day). The receptionist was very nice and understanding. Pamela was very pleasant to talk with and made the experience smooth. She was professional and made me feel comfortable. She drafted our Mom’s Obituary, which helped a lot since the passing of our mom was overwhelming. My whole family was happy with Pamela. We loved how we received pictures of the flowers and cards – this helped with our Thank You Cards. Everything was set up nicely. I especially liked the slide show playing during the ceremony. Getting a copy of it was lovely!" 

Janowiak Funeral Home

"Chris all went above & beyond with everything! My brother was the 9th funeral in the last 2 years. My 91-year-old mother was so impressed she moved her arrangements from another facility in town to Janowiak. The funeral director was patient and he listened to details about my brother’s life to put together a video, which was very well done. We wouldn’t change a thing; they exceeded all expectations. We are recommending them to anyone who will listen. They are now our family’s funeral home – I’m sorry we didn’t find them sooner!"

Chiles-Laman Funeral & Cremation Services

"Bob was excellent throughout our entire experience. He treated us with compassion, patience, and sincerity. Bob was very thorough and patient with us as he presented service and merchandise options. Our family’s expectations were exceeded by the Chiles-Laman team. They provided us with picture boards, ordered our food and allowed us as much time as we needed to tell our loved one goodbye."

Past Exemplary Service Award Recipients