Dignity Memorial Uses Seattle’s Torchlight Run to Highlight Northwest’s Perception of Funerals, Memorials

Seattle, Wash. - July 27, 2012

Seattle, Wash.—When an expected 5,000 runners set out on Seattle’s popular Seafair Torchlight run Saturday night, many will notice one group of runners, not because of their speed or running style but because they will be running while carrying an urn used to hold the ashes from a cremation nestled inside a full-sized sea kayak.

The group, comprised of representatives from Dignity Memorial -- the region’s largest provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services -- are running to highlight the Pacific Northwest’s regional peculiarities when it comes to funerals, burials and memorial events.


“As we do in many aspects of our lives, those of us in the Pacific Northwest march to our own drummer when it comes to caring for loved ones when they pass away,” said Keith Baumgardner, Dignity Memorial’s Seattle representative. “Among other differences is our desire to use cremation over traditional burials.”

According to a recent study published by a trade organization, Washington families use cremation for loved ones 63 percent of the time, the highest in the nation. The national average is 31 percent.

“At Dignity Memorial, we’ve been working with families to find ways to respect their cremation wishes while also allowing the families to celebrate the lives of their loved ones,” said Baumgardner. “Our grief counseling experts have also found that by holding some form of celebration commemorating the individual’s life significantly helps in the grieving process.”


According to Baumgardner, those who simply scatter the ashes of a loved one sometimes regret not interring the remains to allow for a focal point for their loved one’s life.

“I think what gives us great satisfaction is finding creative ways to help families celebrate the life of a loved one regardless of if it involves cremation or a traditional funeral,” Baumgardner said.

One example of Dignity Memorial’s work is the nation’s first golf-themed memorial park, allowing individuals to inter the cremains of a loved one as part of golf green, sand trap or parlor.


“I would have had a hard time visualizing this level of creativity in meeting our families’ needs 10 years ago,” Baumgardner said. “I think our community event this weekend highlighting this level of creativity is a great example of the lengths we will go to servicing families’ wishes.”

In addition to the Kayak Runners, Dignity Memorial will be on site with a booth at the Seafair Torchlight Run on Saturday, July 28, to sign up attendees for complimentary emergency contact cards offered through their Family Emergency Response Program and take photos of attendees to hand out as race day souvenirs.

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