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A Final Statement

Reports on the Art Casket tomb conceived at Dallas-based company
called WhiteLight in Texas. Source of the idea; Number of caskets that
were sold since January 1999; Remarks from company co-founder Dennis
Sternitzky.

IDENTITY

Since the birth of the Me Generation, consumers have been hungry for goods tailored expressly for the individual. Now, they can make their mark on the ultimate personal statement: death.

Gone are the days of the somber, anonymous wooden coffin: a Dallas-based company called WhiteLight (www.artcaskets.com) has conceived the "Art Casket," a tomb specially designed for you or the one you love. Was your father an avid golfer? Send him to that great putting green in the sky with the "Fairway to Heaven" casket. Uncle Larry a comedian? Keep him rolling in his grave with the cheeky "Return to Sender" model (right). On a more serious note is the AIDS Ribbon casket.

Company co-founder Dennis Sternitzky explains that he and co-founder Patrick Fant hit upon the idea while imagining their own funerals. "We want them to be a celebration of life," he says. While people clearly agree--WhiteLight has sold over 200 caskets since they started manufacturing in January--it's clear that they also want one last chance to show off a visible symbol of the self.

"The baby boomers have been really influential in society," notes Sternitzky. "Whether it's the tie you wear or the house you live in, the Me Generation wants it faster, better and more unique." Death, it seems, doesn't have to be the common fate that unites us all. Says Sternitzky: "Nobody's life was a blank. This is the last opportunity to make a final statement."

ILLUSTRATION (COLOR)