I attended the funeral service for Ronald H. James where I saw Skype technology used to make the “Home Going Celebration” open to family members living hundreds of miles away who could not attend.
James’ sister-in-law, Reverend Dr. Zenobia A. James decided to use technology she used in taking a distant learning course at Penn State University in a funeral service. Hunt Irving Funeral Home in Chester Township, PA worked with Dr. James to get Skype working at their site.
Relatives from California, Illinois, and the District of Columbia were able to participate. Ronald James’ sister in California was able to share childhood remembrances in growing up with her brother.
I asked the funeral home lady guiding the activities had they ever done anything like this before. She replied never.
As I watched the proceedings, it was clear that Skype had redefined the funeral. Travel expense and time away from daily responsibilities for family members living in distance reaches in the world were no longer an impediment to their active participation in the services. One might anticipate the development of cell phone Apps that will open even the interment ceremony to observation by the global family.
I knew Ronald James for roughly 50 years. He had a knack for assembling model cars, so it is great to remember such a humble man as helping to redefine how the “Home Going Celebration” of tomorrow will be shared with family members throughout the world by the smart use of inexpensive technology. Surely, Skype will evolve their technology where over 100 family members can participate from their homes around the world in the next three years.