Pulpits for churches, register stands and registration desks at funeral homes, processional urn carriers and funeral biers — there is a company that makes such specialized furniture, and they are regulars at the NFDA convention.
Rick Roberts and his wife started Roberts & Downey Chapel Equipment in Argenta, Illinois (near Decatur) in 1986. The family-owned business makes hand-crafted wooden furniture for funeral homes and houses of worship on a custom order basis. He was a carpenter by trade and built a funeral home in Decatur. That’s when he found out there was no one custom building chapel furniture.
He and his wife attended their first NFDA convention in 1987 and have attended annually for 28 consecutive years. They have put more than 1.8 million highway miles on their vehicles servicing the funeral trade since 1987. Roberts & Downey makes more than 50 furniture items in five different designs, four types of wood and 22 stain colors.
Among the beautiful wooden pieces on display at the expo was a processional urn carrier to be used for a memorial service. With the rise of cremation, you’ll no doubt be seeing these at more and more services. “It brings the dignity and the ritual into services with cremation,” said Roberts.
Roberts built the bier that President Ronald Regan’s body rested on in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Learn more about the company at www.RobertsAndDowney.com.
Recorded at the 2014 National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) Convention and Expo in Nashville, Tennessee by Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®, host and author of the award-winning TV show and book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die.