By Thomas A. Parmalee, Kates-Boylston Publications (first published in Funeral Service Insider)
Darla Butzine Tripoli, a popular funeral director and adjunct faculty member at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, died in a motorcycle accident in Franklin Township, Pennsylvania, Aug. 17, along with her husband, Paul J. Tripoli.
Tripoli, 55, was sitting behind her husband when the motorcycle they were on lost control and struck a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction on Route 19. The couple died at the scene, according to published reports.
News of her death shocked her family, the PIMS community and the funeral profession, with many remembering the fresh approach Tripoli brought to her work and how much she loved helping others.
Joseph P. Salandra, owner of Salandra Funeral and Cremation Services in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, where Tripoli worked for the past five years as a manager and preplanning specialist, said he almost passed out when he heard about her death. “She did pretty much everything – you name it, she did it,” he said, adding that his firm has been inundated with messages of grief from past clients.
“I told her one day that I am actually learning to be like you because that is the way I want to be,” Salandra said. “She was positive about everything.”
Tripoli rode with her husband on their motorcycle often, Salandra said, noting that the couple enjoyed traveling back country roads and always wore their helmets. “All of us, we are walking with our heads down,” Salandra said. “We are mourning like a family here – it has been really devastating … but we have to do other funerals right now.”
Contacted by email, Madison Tripoli, the couple’s daughter, said her mom loved funeral service. “My mom had such a passion and love for her line of work,” she wrote. “She thrived on helping families in their time of need, comforting those saddened by their losses, and making sure that families and their loved ones were taken good care of. She was a friend, an aunt, a sister, a mentor, a hard worker, a wife, and most importantly a mom. I will love and miss her for the rest of my life.”