Author Biography: Joshua Slocum

Josh Slocum is the executive director of Funeral Consumers Alliance, a nonprofit consumer education and watchdog group. He’s held the position since 2003, after former executive director and co-author Lisa “Queen of Death” Carlson hired him in 2002. When he took the job, his mother informed him that she “knew it would come to something like this—you were gonna grow up to be a vampire or an undertaker.”

Before joining FCA, Slocum worked as a cops-and-crime reporter for the Lynchburg News and Advance where he investigated the ghastlier things in life. Just before that he graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a Bachelor of Arts. His intended career as a filmmaker was shelved when he learned that it while it was awfully flattering to get accepted into graduate programs at NYU and Columbia, paying for it was something else indeed.

While at the newspaper, Slocum tried to research what had happened to funeral prices in Lynchburg after the most prominent local funeral homes were bought by mega-chain Service Corporation International. He quickly learned state regulators were Wholly Owned Subsidiaries of the funeral industry. So, he didn’t get to write his exposé, but he would like to thank SCI for riling his sense of indignation enough to jump at the job offer from Funeral Consumers Alliance. And also for supplying him with so very much material for Final Rights.

Slocum has been consulted by legislators and the media around the country as an expert in funeral law and consumer advocacy. He helped draft a bill before Congress that would extend Federal Trade Commission consumer protection rules to cemeteries, crematories, and funeral merchandise vendors. In 2009, he participated in a working group that developed the toughest cemetery regulations in the nation, Illinois’ Cemetery Oversight Act, and he has submitted testimony to support local Funeral Consumers Alliance legislative reform efforts in nearly a dozen states. Slocum has appeared on CNN and NPR, and has been consulted or quoted by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes, Barron’s, and other media outlets.

Slocum lives just outside Burlington, Vermont, in a small house where he made his World Cardiac Debut in December 2010. In an ensemble of boxer shorts and a T-shirt he performed the instant classic “My First Heart Attack: Portrait of a 36-year-old Needing a Stent Stat.” He would like everyone his age to know that they are not, in fact, immortal simply by virtue of not being old. He will be checking in with them periodically to make sure they’ve made their funeral plans and have shared them with their families.

When he is not fighting the forces of funereal evil, Slocum dabbles at piano and home-maintenance as a means of putting off the cardiovascular exercise prescribed by his doctor. He is owned by two cats, and can frequently be spotted cruising around Chittenden County, Vermont, in his 1966 Plymouth Belvedere.

For more information about FCA, go to Funerals.org

Excerpts from Reviews and Commentaries,
Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death

Final Rights Cover

“Not much has changed in the decades since Jessica Mitford stunned America with her vivid description of deception and abuse in the death industry. Families are still exploited financially at a time of intense grief. They are charged thousands of dollars for goods and services they may not want or need. Prepaid funeral money disappears into thin air. Body parts are sold on the black market. In eight states, families are denied the healing that can come from greater personal involvement in caring for their own dead. And some in the industry are working to diminish consumer rights even further. But a funeral consumer movement is now rapidly awakening …

“The authors of this book are the most prominent leaders of that movement. Both Slocum and Carlson have a long history of proposing reforms and testifying on behalf of consumers before legislatures and other government bodies. They are widely sought by journalists as leading experts on all funeral issues. In this book, they join forces, to tell consumers how they can take back their own rights under existing law and to propose legal changes for the benefit of all American Consumers.”

—ForeWord Magazine

For more information about the book, check our separate Web site at FinalRights.org.