14 Inspirational Funeral Home Love Stories
Feb 14, 2017
It’s hard to find a word to describe it. The type of love you see between couples who work in funeral service is unique and special. There seems to be an unspoken language between them, how they always seem to anticipate what the other person needs and will sometimes even finish each other’s sentences. After meeting funeral home families across the country, I have no doubt that the nature of funeral service work encourages a strong family dynamic with healthy and enduring relationships. I recently got engaged myself and am currently planning my own wedding. It has been truly inspiring for me to meet so many couples in funeral service who epitomize the type of commitment I hope to have in my own marriage.
Marriages in the funeral profession demonstrate a visible strength and resiliency. The lifestyle of funeral service work requires these couples to constantly stretch their boundaries, tolerate constant interruptions and embrace the unpredictable. Few vocations require as much sacrifice and adaptability as funeral service work. While these factors seem as though they should put strain on a marriage, there are so many amazing examples of funeral couples actually gaining strength from them by working together as a team to achieve their marital goals. If I had to choose one word to describe this unique type of love, I would choose the word ‘dedication.’ These couples are dedicated to each other, to their families, and to their calling as funeral service professionals in a way that merits reverence and admiration.
In honor of Valentines Day, we wanted to celebrate the love and dedication of funeral service families. Here are 14 inspirational funeral home love stories:
1. Steve and Mary Lou Cannata
-Forest Hills Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Palm City, FL
Celebrated their 30th Wedding Anniversary last September.
“We have been working for a funeral home for the last 11 years. Although we had completely different careers before we started working in the funeral industry, we have found our new-found jobs to be enriching to our spirit. We were working as a transfer team for our funeral home prior to some changes in company policy. Now we are Funeral Assistants and Mary Lou now is a receptionist.
One of the most important things we found from our marriage was a lesson we learned that on our wedding day. We were told that each one of us was a gift to the other and it takes more then 50/50 in a relationship. Each one must give 100%. Love is forever, for always and no matter what.” -Steve Cannata.
2. Rob and Pat Moore
-Moore’s Home for Funerals in Wayne, NJ
Celebrated their 30th Wedding Anniversary last year by renewing their vows
Rob and Pat are the former President and First Lady of the NFDA, and anyone who has ever seen them together knows firsthand how much love, friendship and respect the two share together. Their marriage is truly an inspiration!
“We never go to sleep mad at each other. When we come home from work we leave it behind us and enjoy our blessed life and family.” -Pat Moore.
3. Christopher and Lauren Calvey
-Jennings-Calvey Funeral and Cremation Services in Clark Summit, PA
Celebrated their 1st wedding anniversary last year!
“After 2 years of work in accounting for KPMG, I decided to take the path less traveled and pursue a career in funeral directing, which was a rough road to say the least. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and I were living in King of Prussia and I began working for my family firm in Clarks Summit, all while I attended mortuary school at Simmons Institute in Syracuse NY. Needless to say, my schooling and professional upbringing were a trying time during our relationship and truly was make or break.
The entire experience brought us together and made us stronger than we ever could have been as a couple through all of the obstacles that we had to conquer together. My wife and I moved back to Clarks Summit this year, purchased our first home, adopted a white German Shepherd and, in addition to a hot sauce hybrid start up company my wife and I are pursuing ( Calvey Kitchen: Home of Alchemy Pepper Püree ), I began a managerial role as a 4th generation funeral director with my family firm. I brought a new perspective to improve my family business in both efficiency and new innovations to better serve our families while maintaining the values and traditions upon which we were founded. Each day is a blessing and I am lucky to have so many great people in my corner as we continue to serve the families in our area with the highest caliber of service.” -Chris Calvey.
4. Randall Pickup and Christina Shipman-Pickup
-Shipman’s Funeral & Cremation Service of Pryor
Celebrated their 2-year Wedding Anniversary Last August
“I am a licensed funeral director embalmer and the 5th funeral director in my family. We have a family-owned funeral home that my parents own, my husband, Randall, runs the crematory and the vault business for the cemetery setups. We have 5 children, 4 his and 1 mine, which we have full custody off and work 24/7. We love our business and love to serve people. We work hard and we play hard, but when it's work time it's all business. I look forward to going to work every day with my best friend. We strive every day to make our business the best it can be. The funeral business is so hectic, you have to take time for your spouse/family too." -Christina Shipman-Pickup.
5. Chris and Shannon Henderson
-Schmidt Funeral Home on Grand Parkway in Katy, TX
Celebrated their 6th Wedding Anniversary in October!
“I met Chris when I started at Schmidt Funeral Home in October of 2004. Before Chris’s landscaping business really took off, Chris used to work part time at the funeral home, so a lot of our family and friends joke that we were “Dying to meet each other!” What marriage has taught me, and really, what Chris has taught me – is how to be selfless, how to love him even more with every new day, and how to be supportive…be supportive throughout all the ups and downs, and be his encourager.
What the funeral business has helped me to understand about my marriage, is that our next day is NEVER guaranteed. I see plenty of lives cut short in this profession; I’ve have learned to “keep in light”, don’t sweat the small stuff, and to enjoy Chris while I have him. Chris is my light, and I’m blessed beyond measures to have him in my life. Neither one of us has a strict “8 to 5” job, so we’ve both learned to adjust our lives around our crazy schedules and have fun when we can!” -Shannon Henderson.
6. David and Kathryn Alexander
-Alexander Funeral Home in Warrensburg, NY
Celebrated their 2nd Wedding Anniversary in October
“I believe that no marriage is easy, however working together, around the clock can be trying. We are an amazing team and truly enjoy what we do, together. We've learned to take advantage of the time we have and to enjoy each other and our growing family. I've always said that our career is a lifestyle, not just a "job", and that it proves hard to separate work from home, but we do it.
This year we will not only celebrate us, but our new daughter, Piper, who is now along for the ride too! She can be found playing on the floor in the chapel, in her carrier while I assist families, or napping on a blanket on the front lawn in the shade. We are the true definition of "family business", and although our lives sometimes get away from us, I wouldn't choose any other way to spend my days! We've learned patience, hard work, and undying love, as we're on this roller coaster of life together, helping other families along the way.” -Kathryn Alexander.
7. Joe and Kharen Spence
-Allnutt Funeral in Greeley, CO
Celebrated their 19th Wedding Anniversary on Halloween!
“We were married on Halloween! How is that for someone who works in a funeral home! This was before I worked at the Allnutt Macy Chapel but I feel it was destiny that I came to work here. Even our friends think so. We both have a love of all things Halloween. I think we both have learned patience, understanding and determination are the key to our successful marriage. We, like so many others, have had our struggles but I can count on one hand the number of arguments we’ve had over the last 19 years, and I can honestly say that my husband (Joe) is the one with more patience than me. This isn’t the first marriage for either of us but we’ve learned to love and enjoy our lives….not matter what life throws us. ” -Kharen Spence
8. Henry C. Boyle and Kathy Doran Boyle
-Boyle Brothers Funeral Home in Framingham, MA & Acton Funeral Home in Acton, MA.
Celebrated their 27th Wedding Anniversary in November
“We met in 1984 at the New England Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences (AKA ‘Embalming School’) in Kenmore Square, Boston, and graduated together in 1985 Henry earned an associates degree and was fully licensed in MA in the fall of 1985. I earned a diploma in mortuary science and was fully licensed in the winter of 1986. We were just friends at the time, and that changed with our first official date to the local funeral directors' Christmas Party, Christmas 1987. We were engaged in the fall 1988, and married the following November 11th.
Henry is a second-generation funeral director who owns and operates his family funeral home, Boyle Brothers Funeral Home. Henry started working with his father at a young age following the death of his uncle in 1972, and has continued the business following his father's death in 1988. I am a third generation funeral director. My grandfather Herbert W. Martin established the former Martin & Doran Funeral Home in Maynard, MA in 1925, and was later joined in the business by his son-in-law and my father, John A. Doran. We owned the Maynard location until about 4 years ago when we made the difficult decision to close it. In the meantime, in 1961 my Dad established his own funeral home, the Acton Funeral Home, which I currently own and operate following his death in 2006.
What have Henry and I learned throughout our marriage? Still learning, but I guess to take advantage of the time away from the funeral homes, however brief; enjoy time spent with our daughters; appreciate our friends; keep the hearse clean at all times; and keep a good sense of humor through everything.” -Kathy Doran Boyle
9. Chris and Tiffany Aguilar
-Palmer Mortuary & Cremations in Seguin, TX and Dodge Chemicals
Celebrated their 2nd Wedding Anniversary in November
“Being the only Funeral Director at PM&C, I am constantly on-call and Chris, is my back up - both of us taking calls from ASD. We sometimes, go on removals together, we embalm together and serve families, together,” Tiffany says. “Both of us remain highly involved in our careers, and are on the board for the Texas Funeral Directors Association (Vice Presidents in South and South Central Regions). This year, in February, I was promoted to Manager and in April, I was named Funeral Director of the year (2015-Legacy Funeral Group), Chris was named Sales Person of the year (2015) for the South Central region for the TFDA and he will be speaking at two embalming seminars for the Dodge Company (Atlantic City, NJ and Las Vegas, NV) in 2016.
Chris and I met in late November 2013, at the funeral home, became friends and then soon fell in love. We were married on November 15, 2014. We live in Seguin, where we are very active in the community. We are quite the opposites; Chris is extremely social, loves to laugh, crack jokes and pranks. I, on the other hand, am more reserved and serious about learning as much as I can in the business. Chris coaches and umpires softball for the Seguin Pony League and is a Knight of Columbus. I am a board member for the Hispanic Chamber and volunteer my time just about doing anything. We also have a daughter, Kamille, who is 13 years old and in the 8th grade. Between our daughter, personal lives and our careers, we are extremely busy and we wouldn't have it any other way!
We are proud to be in the Funeral Profession in Texas and hope to continue to serve with many years to come, with the utmost class and respect.”
10. Bryan and Kathie Whitson
-Anders-Rice Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Asheville, NC
Celebrated their 13th Wedding Anniversary in December
“I have been a funeral director for 16 years. I have been with Anders-Rice Funeral Home in Asheville, NC for 12 of those 16 years. Being a married couple in funeral service is definitely a challenge. Funeral work has a way of goofing up your most carefully laid out plans. There have been many family functions like birthdays and holiday celebrations I've had to miss because of work. But my wife is the champion of understanding. She feels that when I am called out, there is a family out there that needs me more than she does at that moment. And she is always there waiting for me when I return home. God has blessed me with a gem of a lady. Thank you for allowing me to share my wonderful story with you.” -Bryan Whitson
11. Chris and Anita Carter
-C.C. Carter Funeral Home in Newport News, VA
Celebrated their 24th Wedding Anniversary in December
“What we have learned in our marriage is that working hard, good communication and putting God first, equals success.” -Chris and Anita Carter.
12. Matthew and Mary-Elizabeth Gaskill
-Gaskill-Brown Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Merchantville, NJ
Celebrated their 9th Wedding Anniversary in December!
“We have learned that patience and most importantly flexibility have been keys to a healthy relationship while working in the funeral profession. Nothing goes as planned and we are learning to adapt to sudden changes.” -Matthew and Mary-Elizabeth Gaskill
13. Craig and Rebecca Glover
-Director’s Choice Mortuary Services in Albuquerque, NM
Celebrating 40 Years of Marriage this March
“We married at age 16 and 18 and still in high school. I started in funeral service in 1976 in Amarillo, TX at N.S. Griggs & Sons during my Junior year. We raised four children and now have 7 grandchildren. I have learned that there has been no greater gift in my marriage or my profession than the beautiful and wonderful woman who has stood beside me through all of the chapters of our life.” -Craig Glover.
14. Bobby Condon and Ashley Caruso-Condon
-Kevin M Lyons Funeral Service in Glenolden & Falco Caruso & Leonard Funeral Home in Pennsauken, NJ
Celebrating 2 Years of Marriage this March
Ashley and Bobby met in Mortuary school and their engagement story is one of our favorites. Bobby used a customized casket insert to pop the question to Ashley! In 2016, the newlyweds welcomed their first child into the world, a beautiful boy named Bobby IV. We had a great time catching up with the happy couple at ASD’s Client Cocktail Party last year. Their relationship is truly inspiring example of love and devotion.
Thank you so much to all of funeral families profiled above for sharing your photos and stories with us! We hope you enjoy a wonderful Valentines Day!
ASD regularly shares photo on social media of funeral home couples and families as part of our “Funeral Families” Facebook series. If you would like to be featured in our Funeral Families series, please email jess.fowler@myASD.com.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD's company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com