(As published in The Dead Beat, Winter, 2013)
Happy New Year, friends! We have begun the 14th year of the new millennium – and it truly amazes me that time has flown so quickly. The year 2013 marks the 21st year of my interest and involvement in the funeral profession, and marks 10 years since I received my license to practice funeral directing. That may not sound like a lot to those who have been involved in the profession for much longer – but considering that I will be 33 years old this year, you can see that a majority of my life has been spent pursuing the funeral and cremation profession.
In those years, I have often reflected on those who have directly and indirectly influenced my views of cremation and funeral service. The first funeral home I ever visited was Thomason Funeral Home in San Marcos, Texas. Dwayne Thomason spent the better part of a day allowing me to ask questions and explore his funeral home. Shortly after, Rene Ferrer, the other director at Thomason, adopted me as a friend and spent many hours on the phone with me – mentoring me for a future in funeral service – a friendship which I still enjoy and will cherish my entire life. Those two individuals, along with Bob and David Powell of Powell Funeral Home in Bald Knob, Arkansas, and William Moody, better-known as Paul Bearer (of professional wrestling fame) were and have remained my heroes in funeral service. Later, individuals like John Goodnight, Tyler Hyatt, Walter Beck, Kenny Lux, Tess Stiner, David Neumann, Tom Cornelison, Kim Nester-Atiee, Rory Comerio, Lanelle Peavy, Brad Sheppard, Bobbie Lance, (and the list goes on) have all educated, influenced and inspired my pursuit of being the best I can be in my chosen profession.
In my interest in cremation, I am most inspired by Dr. Hugo Erichsen, whose heroic attributes and accomplishments constantly encourage me to explore and study the history of cremation. Additionally, I remember my first visit to a crematory – I was about 14 and my step-mom took me to see Chapel Hill Crematory in San Antonio, Texas. The manager, Marie Cull, gave me a tour and patiently answered the many questions I asked. I have also been inspired by other cremationists of yesteryear – including Lawrence Moore, Herb Hargrave, Paul Bryan, the Zell Family of St. Louis, all of whose writings and exemplary dedication to cremation and inurnment encourage me. In urn sales and creation, I have studied and been inspired by teachings of and conversations with Mike Kubasak, Steve Jones of Meierjohan-Wengler, Garry Lea of Old Saybrook Metals, and Lori Simmons of Kap-Lind/Old Saybrook.
Along with all whose names I have included here, I am especially buoyed by all of you who indulge my joy in writing my perspectives of cremation by reading Urns & Outs. I have been amazed over the last three years by those who have sent me feedback and kudos for my writings. It is my heroes, mentors and those who have given their influence, past and present, and for those who read Urns & Outs and the Dead Beat, that I dedicate my perspectives, and for whom I am so very thankful.
That’s my perspective…