Van Alstyne’s own Duane LaFollett is general manager of the Manasota Memorial Park and Funeral Home in Bradenton, Florida, which recently received the 2016 International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association’s “Keeping It Personal” award. The funeral home received top honors in the Most Personalized Service or Memorial category.

Duane is the son of former Justice of the Peace Ralph LaFollett, and the late Evelyn LaFollett of Van Alstyne.

He described a beach-themed oasis for a family wanting to remember their loved one, Patricia, beginning with her motto, “Live, laugh, love… don’t panic.” She loved the Florida landscape, so the funeral home brought in more than 2,000 pounds of Florida sand to create an authentic beach setting for the memorial service. The hundreds of family and friends in attendance were greeted with tropical leis as they entered the funeral home and listened to Patricia’s favorite music as they played games, lounged on beach chairs, and snapped photos in a photo booth. At the end of the memorial service, the funeral home released more than 150 balloons.

The KIP award is to honor the best in personalization in the funeral service profession, and it is the second year this company has received the honor.

Ralph LaFollett said that his son was working in the Houston area when the company he was working with moved to Florida and took Duane LaFollett with them. He began his career in 1988 with Dignity Memorial in 1988 and has held various positions within the company. Duane LaFollett and his wife, Greta, have four children and are expecting their third grandchild in July.

Ralph LaFollett said of his son, “He’s a good ‘un.”

“We are honored to be recognized by ICCFA for Most Personalized Service or Memorial,” Duane LaFollett said. “We strive to create meaningful tributes that allow family and friends to honor, recognize and celebrate the life of their loved one. It is very gratifying to help families during a very difficult time.”