A lot of people get into funeral service for different reasons. Some, it’s because they’ve had a loss in their family and they see it as something they want to do. I think initially people get into it to help others, they just have that nature of wanting to help someone.
For Jeff Thackeray, co-owner of Memento Funeral Chapel in Bonnyville, Cold Lake, and St. Paul, it was the satisfaction of knowing that a job well done meant helping a family during a difficult time in their lives. The Thackeray’s have been working in the funeral service industry for over 50 years, and in April, they were recognized by the Alberta Funeral Association for 50, 40, and 25 years of service.
It started with Jeff’s father Don, who at the age of 18 worked at a funeral home in Saskatchewan. Over the course of 50 years, he continued his career in the industry in one way or another. In 1975, Don and his wife Elda purchased their first funeral home in Bonnyville. Before their son Jeff had decided on whether or not to get into the family business, Don and Elda took a short break. Don explained, “Twenty-eight years ago I took a sabbatical and worked for another funeral home in British Columbia to see if I wanted to continue, because Jeff wasn’t involved at that time.”
It wasn’t long before Jeff and his wife Teresa felt the same pull to help others as Jeff’s parents once did. In 2009, the couple purchased the family business, expanding into St. Paul in 2016. Even though Don and Elda no longer own the funeral chapel, they remain steadily involved in its daily operations.
Growing up, Jeff remembers his father often leaving during hockey games, birthday parties, or other family functions in order to respond to a tragedy. At the time, Jeff admits he didn’t realize the impact his father’s work was having.
“I saw all of the bad stuff like my parents leaving in the middle of the night or my birthday party because someone passed away,” he said.
This was why he hadn’t shown much interest in the family business, until he grew up and saw the real reason his parents just couldn’t quit.
“When I was young, I saw the bad parts of the business, later on I learned to see all of the good parts,” expressed Jeff.
The family is first to admit the funeral business “isn’t for everyone.”
Don said, “It’s like every occupation, there are good days and there are bad days. You hope that you can be in a good mood all of the time.”
Source: Maceachern, Meagan., May 8, 2018, https://www.bonnyvillenouvelle.ca/article/unique-family-business-20180508