Our Company History

1973 – 1975 – Start of Tribute (W.R. Toson and Associates)

In March, 1973, William Toson resigned from his product development position with the Quaker Oats Company, Chicago, to start a sales and marketing company focused on the Cemetery IndustryHis first three contracts were at small properties in Ixonia, Beaver Dam and Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

Upon signing a mausoleum sales contract on January 1, 1975, with Roselawn Memorial Park, Monona, Wisconsin, the firm was incorporated under the name “W. R. Toson and Associates.”  Bill and Barb Toson served as founding officers working out of a home office in Nashotah, WI.  Roselawn’s contract marked the beginning of a several year affiliation with Jim Stanley, Owner.

The Tribute/Roselawn sales team enjoyed several record breaking months with sales over $300,000 – along with our shared successes came plenty of good and memorable timesBelow right, the dynamic sales team of Lee Fredericks, Ken Baneck, and Dick GraltonLower left is Bill Toson. 

1976 – Change Name to Tribute Cemetery Systems

In 1976 the company changed its name to “Tribute Cemetery Systems”That same year it signed its first “turnkey” mausoleum contract with Roselawn Memorial ParkTribute handled the design, sales, construction and financing of a 1300 crypt chapel mausoleum named “Gardens of Eternal Peace”The high relief ceramic mural, commissioned by Tribute with a Portuguese art studio, serves as the focal point of the chapel. 

Building on a strong reputation, the number of sales and turnkey development contracts continued to growIn 1976, Tribute was engaged by Bill and Tom Krause,  owners of Restlawn Memorial Park, Wausau, Wisconsin, to design and sell their first mausoleum – “The Gardens of Eternal Rest”.   A year later Tribute designed and began sales for Restlawn’s first chapel mausoleum. 

Sample pages of Tribute’s standard sales presentation are shown. Sales presentation books were customized for each project.  Extensive training, along with an emphasis on maintaining a positive attitude and desire to assist clients were central hallmarks of Tribute’s success over the years. 

1978 – Early 1980s – Many Mausoleums Designed and Developed

Following approximately 18 months of “pre-construction” sales, ground was broken on the Restlawn Memorial Chapel Mausoleum, a 1250+crypt chapel mausoleum and office facilitySlightly over one year later, the building was dedicated – Senator Tommy Thompson, later to become governor and Secretary of Health & Education was keynote speaker. 

In 1978 (pictured below) is a 500+ crypt chapel mausoleum designed and sold by Tribute at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Fond du Lac, WITribute later was instrumental in developing several additionsA garden mausoleum built for Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Shawano, WI is upper right. Below is the garden mausoleum built for Queen of Peace Catholic Cemetery in Antigo, WIBill Toson dedicates the first garden mausoleum Tribute developed for their cemeteryTwo counselors, Bill Clark and Mary of Antigo are shown at the ground breaking for the mausoleum.   

Starting in 1981, Tribute began a long and successful relationship with the Diocese of La Crosse, WIA total of four garden mausoleums were completed at Catholic Cemetery in La Crosse. Chapel mausoleums at Woodlawn Cemetery in La Crosse; Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Eau Claire;  and Hope Catholic Cemetery in Chippewa FallsUpper middle photo is Woodlawn Chapel Dedication (L-R) the pastor, Bishop Raymond Burke who later became a Cardinal stationed in Rome; John Reinhart, Woodlawn Manager and Bill TosonLower middle is Bishop Raymond Burke dedicating Woodlawn’s garden mausoleum. 

In 1982, Tribute began selling burial vaults, for its cemetery clients, directly to consumersThe program was a huge success which prompted an acquisition of Freeport Vault Company, Freeport, IL from Tom LawTribute later developed its own precast crypt and niche systems and expanded production into lawn crypts.


1983 – Tribute’s Offices Expanded Into Full Development

Through the initial years, Tribute transitioned from an office in the Toson home, to leased space in Pewaukee, WI, to a new office campus developed by Bill and BarbIn 1983 several acres of land were purchased at the intersection of I-94 and Hwy 83 in DelafieldFour office buildings were developed, including the Jacob House named after a grandson. Those offices were sold 2004;  Tribute then moved to it’s new corporate office facility in Hartland, WI. 

Mid-1980s – Tribute Precast Systems and Tribute Design Systems Began

Groundbreaking (middle right) on the first of four garden mausoleums developed by Tribute for St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Port Washington, WI.   

After completing sales and construction (1984) of two garden mausoleums for Forest Hill Cemetery in Wisconsin Rapids, Tribute then designed and sold a chapel mausoleum (Phase 3) at the same location. 

Through the years, Tribute Precast had been blessed with an extremely loyal and talented staffMarv Atz (below) transitioned to Tribute as plant manager and remained with the company to retirement.   

Dean Wardlow served many years in production and eventually plant manager.   

As of this writing, nearly 30 years later, several of the original crew are still on board. 

The Chapel of Resurrection Mausoleum in Eau Claire, WI holds many “firsts” for TributeThis was the first project designed by Tribute Design Systems – a full service architectural firm founded in 1986 by Tribute to service the “Death Care Industry”John Baer was retained as the first managing architect. 

The first Tribute designed crypts and niches were incorporated in this chapel mausoleum. Below the right photo shows John Baer, Architect, Bill Isermann, Controller, and Dave Stuckey, VP of Precast insuring a successful project completion. 

Late 1980s – Tribute’s First Cemeteries Were Purchased

In addition to developing its own precast crypt system and founding an architectural firm, Tribute started “Pre-Need Arrangements” – a company focused on marketing prepaid funerals for cemetery and funeral home clients. 

A multi-year development contract was entered with Roselawn Memorial Park, Terre Haute, IN, where Tribute introduced a lawn crypt garden, developed a chapel mausoleum and marketed the cemetery’s first funeral home. 

Tribute reorganized all of its various enterprises in 1989 to come under the “The Tribute Companies, Inc.” umbrella.  Tribute Management was changed to Tribute Precast Systems, the sales and consulting firm name was named “Tribute Cemetery Systems”, architectural was named “Tribute Design Systems”Our various individual cemeteries remained independent entities. 

March 15, 1989 Tribute purchased its first cemetery, North Lawn Cemetery Association in Fort Dodge, IA.  This included Decorators Floral & Gifts, a sod farm, lawn maintenance and  Christmas tree shopTribute Design designed a chapel for North Lawn which was built 1995Bill Kellin, Gerry Will and Buster Albertson managed the cemetery and sales. 

1951-1988 – Pinelawn Owned by First and Second Generation of the Toson Family

Pinelawn Memorial Park, Milwaukee, WI  was purchased on January 29, 1988 from Robert Toson, Bill’s fatherHarold E. Toson and his two sons, Harold N. and Robert originally acquired ownership in 1951. Pictured below are Bill’s father, mother and grandmotherIn 1959 the cemetery’s first mausoleum was built by Mausoleum Builders of America, of which Harold E. was the principal partnerPinelawn originally was founded by a group of prominent Milwaukee businessmen with its first burial September 27, 1922. 

1988 – Second Generation of the Toson Family Retires

Pinelawn Memorial Park was purchased by William R. Toson on January 29, 1988 from Robert Toson, Bill’s father.  

The Memorial Day Program at Pinelawn has been a long-standing tradition, with the American Legion and various dignitaries participating. 

Christine {Hentges} Toson is 4th generation to assume ownership.    

The Toson Family are not the only ones with a rich heritage and connection to Pinelawn but four generation of “Brehmers” worked on the grounds (upper left). 

1990 – Fort Howard Cemetery Sales Contract Begins

In 1990, Fort Howard Cemetery, Green Bay, WI, retained Tribute to market the cemetery and design its first mausoleumSales remained strong for many yearsIn 1996 the cemetery assumed responsibility for sales for a brief period of time; however, early in the following year hired Tribute to take over complete management of the propertyTribute acquired the cemetery September 17, 1999 and added several more phases to its chapel mausoleum. 

1994 – 4th Generation of Tosons Begins Career at Tribute

A 1994, a contract was entered into with New Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Flint, MI for the sales/design/construction of a new chapel mausoleum.  

November 26, 1994 Christine  Toson began working with Tribute Cemetery Systems in sales.  Her first big assignment was at Pinelawn Memorial Park where she coordinated the hosting of the Moving Vietnam Wall.


Anticipating the closing of Woods Veterans Cemetery, Milwaukee, WI, the State Department of Veterans Affairs retained Tribute to conduct a study of various sites for a new state veterans cemeteryAfter selecting a site based on our recommendation, the State awarded Tribute Design Systems a contract in 1996 to create a master plan for the intended location in Union Grove, WI and to design the initial burial gardens, administrative offices, interior and exterior committal chapels and maintenance facilitiesPictured here are various groundbreaking photos showing Senator Russ Feingold and Congressman Mark Neumann. 

In 1996 Tribute Design Systems was commissioned by Tom and Bryn Barasckai to design the first funeral home for both Tribute and Sunset Memorial Park.   The facility is very stately, functional and well received by the public. 

 Shortly after completion, Tribute designed a chapel mausoleum intended to be both low maintenance and environmentally sensitive. 

Dedication of Phase 1

Dedication of Phase 1 occurred approximately 18 months after the start of construction. Tribute personnel, representatives of the State Veterans Affairs, and the cemetery were present. 

Governor Tommy Thompson was the principal speaker. Up until the date of dedication, this was Tribute’s largest lawn crypt project with over 4000 units installed. 

1998/1999 – Two Predominant Cemeteries Purchased in Wisconsin

Ideal Vault in Verona, WI was purchased and later sold to an employee.  During the 1990’s, Design developed architectural plans for all Service Corporation International cemeteries in WI  including Nicolet Memorial Park in Green Bay.  Design also completed projects at Allouez Catholic in Green Bay, Oak Grove in La Crosse, New Calvary in Flint, MI and for Chapel Lawn in Shererville, IN.  Kim Krieg joined Tribute as Accounting Manager, November, 1998.   

Tribute purchased Restlawn Memorial Park, Wausau, on July 21, 1998 and Fort Howard Memorial Park, Green Bay, on September 17, 1999. 

Mid – Late 1990s – Tribute Develops Several Wisconsin Veteran Cemeteries

Once again, in 1998, the State of Wisconsin awarded Tribute the contract to design a new veteran’s cemetery in Spooner, WI – Northern Wisconsin Veteran’s CemeteryThat scope of services included a master plan, administrative office and chapel, columbarium for cremation and grounds maintenance facilities. 


Tribute Design Systems designed a chapel and vault handling facility at Graceland  Cemetery in Milwaukee.  

In 2001 a mausoleum for Prairie Home Cemetery, Waukesha, WI  was designed and constructed.   

Woodlawn Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio, retained Tribute to design a unique “hilltop” cremation garden which included a columbarium and lookout tower. 

A Pre-funded Funeral Plan began at all Tribute owned cemeteries.   


Restlawn Memorial Park in Wausau was hit by a tornado on September 2, 2002 uprooting over 300 trees and monuments.   

2003 – Tribute Expands Precast Operations Into Ashley, Indiana

Tribute Precast Systems – Ashley, IN land and building was purchased April 15, 2003.   

Projects continued in NY, IL, OH, MI MO, WI and Canada.   

Clyde Rupnow joined Tribute December, 2003, as Operations Manager for cemeteries.   


2005 – Tribute Moves Offices From Delafield to Hartland, Wisconsin

Tribute’s corporate office moved early 2005 to 352 Cottonwood Avenue, Hartland, WI.  

2007 – Tribute Acquires 4th Cemetery in Wisconsin

Tribute purchased The Gardens of Stone Bank, in Hartland, WI, from Kettle Moraine United Presbyterian Church in 2007.   

Tribute designed and constructed a chapel mausoleum for Detroit Memorial, Detroit, MI in 2008.   

In 2009 Tribute was retained to create a master plan and develop a new cemetery, “The Gardens of Olive Branch”, Greenwood, IN. The first phase included burial gardens, a columbarium and garden mausoleum. 


Southern and Northern Veterans Cemeteries continued expansion 2011 through 2013.   

A private mausoleum was designed and built at Rock Island Cemetery, Rock Island, IL. 

During this period, Tribute designed and built its largest mausoleum to date for Mt Elliot Cemetery Group at Resurrection Cemetery in Detroit, MI. 

2014 – Positions change within the Tribute Companies

William R. Toson became Chief Executive Officer and Christine A. Toson became President of Tribute beginning in 2014.   

A mausoleum at Canarsie Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, was constructed during years 2012 through 2014.   

A design and consulting contract was executed to develop a new cemetery in the US Territory of Guam. 

2016 – Christine Toson Takes Over Ownership of Tribute and William and Barb Toson Retire

Christine Toson acquired ownership of The Tribute Companies from Bill and Barb Toson, who then retired. Tribute became a Woman-Owned Certified Business through the State of Wisconsin.


Bill Toson continues to serve on the Board of Director’s for Tribute. Tribute continues to make traction throughout many cemetery operations by helping them excel through products, services and structures that enhance their operations. The Tribute team members all continue to evolve in their positions with the company and be recognized as leaders in their communities.

Contact Tribute today to learn more about our cemetery supply company for complete funeral home and cemetery products and services.