The State of Indiana, upon the commission of Governor Mike Pence, has honored Vevay/Madison funeral director Rodney Nay with one of its highest tributes, the ‘Distinguished Hoosier Award’.
The award, which was presented last Thursday, January 22nd, honors Rodney Nay for his efforts and generosity in behalf of Indiana veterans.
Matthew Vincent, program coordinator for the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs, made the presentation in a formal ceremony at the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Madison. He noted that the award was established “To identify individuals who have contributed significantly to the state and its people through their exemplary character and accomplishments.”
“The honor, which is only presented upon the directive of the governor, is extremely rare,” Matthew Vincent said.
According to Alan Burnham, superintendent of the Madison cemetery, the local facility outpaces similar military burial grounds because of Rodney Nay’s involvement and support.
Rodney Nay, who serves as president/owner of Morgan & Nay Funeral Centre in Madison and holds an administrative position at Haskell & Morrison Funeral Home in Vevay, absorbs the majority of expenses for placing a Christmas wreath on every grave site the second Saturday of each December.
He started this tradition in 2009 when participation in the ‘Wreaths Across America’ project looked dim for the Madison cemetery. Morgan & Nay Funeral Centre stepped up to resolve the dilemma and totally absorbed the cost of 600 live wreaths. For the first time ever, a Christmas wreath with a big red bow adorned every stone in the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery, which is located off Lanier Drive.
In 2014, less than 50 wreaths were funded through the national organization, with the remaining 750 plus provided by Morgan & Nay Funeral Centre. Although the project converted to artificial wreaths a couple of years ago, Rodney Nay replaces any faded or damaged wreaths each year and buys additional ones for new interments. According to Alan Burnham, over 800 veterans are buried at the Madison site.
With colorful wreaths adorning every grave amidst a light snow, the National Veterans Memorial Cemetery Association in 2013 prominently featured a picture of the Madison cemetery on its website’s home page.
In addition, Rodney Nay through his support to local military groups makes sure that American flags flank the graves of veterans on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
During the ceremony, Alan Burnham also pointed out that Rodney Nay in several situations has covered funeral expenses or provided free services or products for veterans lacking adequate financial means. “He never seeks public acknowledgment for such deeds,” Alan Burnham said. “It’s simply his way of quietly saying thanks to those who have served our country.”
In November, Rodney Nay, who has been in the mortuary profession 33 years, also merited the distinction of being named 2014 Funeral Director of the Year by American Funeral Director magazine.