LIMA — The death of a prominent American political figure is a time of mourning and appreciation for the years of service offered to the public. With the recent death of U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Lima company is playing a role in helping the nation honor this war hero and longtime public servant.
At 7:28 p.m. local time Saturday, it was announced McCain had died. At that moment, the management and staff of S&S–Superior, Inc. in Lima began waiting for the phone to ring.
It was a phone call they have taken before.
It would involve the what, where and the when S&S–Superior would help one of its largest customers with the funeral of McCain. It also involved doing an in-house assessment of the equipment available for this task.
“Once that was complete, the waiting continued until the phone rang early Monday morning,”said Mike McKiernan, the Senior Vice President for Sales, Marketing, and Product Development. “The customer conveyed a hearse was needed in Washington, D.C. by Tuesday morning. The staff had determined there was a unit completed and available.”
The 2018 S & S Park Hill model built on the Cadillac XTS chassis was on the road to Washington by noon Monday. McKiernan traveled straight through to Washington, noticing quite a few flags along the way that were flying at half-staff. He arrived at Joseph Gawler’s and Sons Funeral Home at 9 p.m. Monday and was met by the president of the organization to take charge of the vehicle. McKiernan was to return at 7:30 the next morning to detail the vehicle.
“This level of service is how S&S–Superior strives to serve all of our customer.” McKiernan said. “These high-profile funerals provide us a larger stage to show our customer service commitment, but in reality, any funeral is ‘high-profile’ to the family enduring the loss of a loved one. Every funeral is important. That is how S&S–Superior approaches its customer service.”
Joseph Gawler’s and Sons Funeral Home is no stranger to high profile Washington, D.C. funerals. This type of funerals has been handled by them as far back as the death of President William Howard Taft in 1930. Other prominent funerals conducted by Gawler’s Funeral Home include Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, and Ford. Most recently, it handled the Washington, D.C. segment when the Rev. Billy Graham was lying in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
Discretion and prudence are two terms that best describe Gawler’s Funeral Home execution of high-profile funeral ceremonies. So much so, that all staff and management are precluded to make any statement or answer any questions that have to do with not only the high-profile funerals, but any funeral that is conducted at the prestigious venue. This reputation is the cornerstone that allows confidence of complete privacy by families who use the funeral home at such a vulnerable time.
McKiernan noted, “Being there on hand to help with the detailing of the vehicle is a way that S&S–Superior can help take part of the burden off the funeral home and give them time to work on other aspects of the funeral ceremony.”
After the hearse was detailed, the funeral home president and lead funeral director went over the vehicle to make sure all was in order. One feature they made sure was set to the correct mode was the vehicle chime upon opening the driver door. It was critical the warning chime not sound when the vehicle was shut off and the driver door was opened. This was due to rules of vehicles that are on the U.S. Capitol grounds cannot remain running once in its designated place and the vehicle is to not sound any chimes or similar noises once it is in its final place on the U.S. Capitol grounds.
S&S–Superior has worked hand-in-hand with Gawler’s Funeral Home on more than this occasion. Sayers and Scovill hearses were used on the funerals of President Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford, and the Rev. Billy Graham.
“It gives a sense of pride and affirmation to all the staff and workers,” said McKiernan. “Knowing our products are requested to be prominently used in such distinguished services shows our workers’ commitment to manufacturing to the highest quality standards.”
The Sayers and Scovill brand has been in continuous production since 1876 and been produced in Lima since the mid- 1980s. The Superior brand has been in produced Lima since 1923. Both have quietly carved out a niche in the funeral industry as producing the most remarkable products for the funeral industry.