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Madison's Cress Funeral Home featured in Reuter's worldwide weird news article today

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  • Hoodoo
    This copy of the article is from a South African website. ... Dead critters spread cheer at funeral home February 01 2007 at 11:49AM By Nick Carey
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2007
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      This copy of the article is from a South African website.


      Dead critters spread cheer at funeral home

      February 01 2007 at 11:49AM
      By Nick Carey

      Madison, Wisconsin - A stuffed squirrel clutching a fishing rod. A
      dead badger hefting a football for a winning pass. Other former
      rodents enjoying a carousel ride.

      Welcome to the world of Sam Sanfillippo, a funeral director who has
      amassed a large collection of stuffed animals in unconventional
      scenarios to cheer up guests mourning their loved ones - and created a
      mini-tourism attraction.

      "This is to show kids when they come for a funeral and they cry," said
      Sanfillippo, 86, the semi-retired director of the Cress Funeral Home
      in Wisconsin's capital city, Madison.

      In one room here stuffed squirrels drink in a warmly-lit saloon, while
      over at "The Woodland Fair", families of dead animals enjoy fair rides.

      Alongside the numerous display cases and 1 200 fish on the walls,
      which includes everything from a hammerhead shark to marlins, are
      trophies showing Sanfillippo's prowess as a fisherman.

      "I caught all the fish myself," said Sanfillippo, a war veteran, who
      is unique as his collection.

      On the walls hang pictures of Sanfillippo on fishing trips with
      celebrities like former astronauts Deke Slayton, Vance Brand and Tom
      Stafford and politicians Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

      Sanfillippo served as a medic in World War 2, receiving five Purple
      Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star. A veteran of campaigns in
      North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and France, he says he was briefly
      declared dead in 1944 when a large shell exploded above his unit.

      "The shell supposedly killed five of us," he said. "Afterward they
      figured that the vibrations of the lorry they put us in started my
      heart because I sat up. The driver thought the dead were coming back
      to life and he was so scared he ran away."

      Since the late 1940s Sanfillippo has worked in the funeral business in
      Madison and built up his collection of stuffed animals.

      Although he caught the fish himself, the squirrels and chipmunks have
      all been killed by cars, with the exception of the albino squirrels,
      on display playing basketball or driving miniature cars. Friends in
      Marionville, Missouri, who raise them, sent those to him.

      "The first time they came I was amazed to find a box of eight frozen
      squirrels at the door," sent via United Parcel Service Incorporated,
      Sanfillippo said.

      Buses of tourists come to see his collection on a regular basis.
      Andrew Johnson, one of the Cress Funeral Home's directors, said the
      home is happy to accommodate guests if they call ahead and no funerals
      are under way.

      "It's certainly an interesting collection," he added, "but it is most
      definitely Sam's."
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