Attila Bethlenfalvy stands out in a crowd of funeral directors. With his gauged ears, shaven head and bushy, peppered beard, Bethlenfalvy doesn’t look the part, and he’s not a funeral director, though he arguably knows more about funerary antiques and ephemera than any person alive. His collection of funeral memorabilia is certainly one of the largest in the world.
Bethlenfalvy has parlayed his love of all things funerary into a massive following on his Facebook page – Funetorium. But Bethlenfalvy shies from the spotlight, never appearing on Funetorium.
“It’s not about me,” he explained. “It’s about the historical significance of the object.”
Bethlenfalvy’s interest in funeral service began as a boy with the book “American Funeral Cars & Ambulances Since 1900” by Thomas McPherson. The adolescent was riveted by the stately professional cars on the glossy pages.
“I had every single vehicle memorized by the time I was 12,” Bethlenfalvy recalled.
He checked the book out so many times, the librarian at the Cleveland public library told him he couldn’t check it out anymore.
“She said it was inappropriate,” he explained. “Instead, she gave me this book on ‘70s shag wagons. Talk about inappropriate.”
Ever the collector, he added, “I’ve tried to get my hands on that book [about shag wagons] but I have yet to locate a copy.”
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