What better place to have a Famous Endings Museum than a funeral home. In Dover at 803 N. Wooster Avenue, the Toland-Herzig Funeral Home has an outstanding display of funeral memorabilia from people who have made a difference in the world.
The staff hopes that their presentation will perhaps bring back memories, or even a smile to your face, as you see some of those people who had a great influence on our lives.
Here you will find the largest privately owned collection of funeral memorabilia in the world. Everything from funeral programs, photos, newspaper clippings, and prayer cards can be viewed. Most of the memorabilia is displayed in one large room, but it has spread out to the hallways and other small rooms throughout the funeral home.
This is a rather recent collection started by John Herzig back in 1996. Up to that time, he had an autograph collection, but that was soon to change when he sent a request for the autographed picture of the late Joe Lewis, the boxer.
When he received the package in the mail, there was more than what he asked for. It included not only a picture, but also the program of the funeral ceremony. That was the beginning of his new hobby, which has evolved to over 2,000 pieces of funeral memorabilia on display today.
Many funerals they actually attended under special circumstances. When John heard of the public funeral of Jack Kevorkian in Michigan, he suggested to his wife, Joyce, that perhaps it would be a nice weekend for a trip to Michigan. The next day after arrival, he told her they were going to the White Chapel Mausoleum for funeral services at 9:30. Her response was, “Have you lost your mind?”
His wife has patiently endured his many attempts to find funeral programs and memorabilia. Learn more about her tolerance as you hear about the 50th birthday trip to New York City that he promised her, or their stop at a celebrity filled cemetery in L.A. on the way back from a cruise. Joyce won’t soon forget these special trips.
The trips to funerals are usually family affairs. Often Joyce accompanies him but recently his son, Troy, went with his dad to a couple memorable memorial services for John Glenn and Muhammad Ali. Their programs are already in place at the museum.
John Herzig enjoys hearing stories about people who have changed the world in some way. Those are the kind of people he has honored in his Famous Endings Museum. “Each person has a story to share.”
Among his favorites are people who helped others. They weren’t big Hollywood or TV stars, but people who made a difference… and he has their funeral programs! Millard Fuller, a self-made millionaire at the age of twenty-nine, is a prime example. Fuller gave all his money away to start Habitat for Humanity.
The collector placed high importance on William Greatbatch, who made the cardiac pacemaker, and Eugene Polley, inventor of the TV remote control and often labeled “Father of the Couch Potato”. This museum perhaps could be called the Influential Hall of Fame.
Famous Endings Museum has special admiration for Frank Inn and his love of animals. He trained popular animals such as Arnold the pig, Lassie and Benji, who he saved from a shelter. Frank’s daughter recalls, “He could train animals to do things that most people didn’t believe.” Some of those favorite animals were cremated and buried with Inn.
Some of visitors’ favorite exhibits are memorabilia from people who made us smile in the past, such as Captain Kangaroo and Mister Rogers. Comedian Leslie Neilson carried his sense of humor to his funeral. The packages of Kleenex he prepared for his funeral are on display there. They carried the inscription: “Stop crying. This is supposed to be a fun night. Love and laughs, Leslie.”
Several times a year, John schedules a “Night at the Museum” where he features a special person or group of people. Visit their Facebook page or website for details. The museum is free and open for visitation Monday – Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. It’s one of those places you have to see to believe and appreciate.
Famous Endings Museum has been featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and is a frequent stop for tour coaches…especially Mystery Tours! This museum makes us look at death differently. As Randy Pausch wrote about funerals, “You can either be an Eeyore or a Tigger.” At Famous Endings Museum, they honor the contributions and memories, as they celebrate the lives of famous people.
Visit Famous Endings Museum in Dover just off I-77 at Exit 83. Take Ohio 211 east/ Tuscarawas Avenue. Turn left on Slingluff Avenue and then right on Wooster Ave. The museum is on the left side of the street.