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It's All About Concordia - Chaput-Buoy (Funeral homes)
The Concordia Blade-Empire ^ | September 7, 2018

Posted on 09/07/2018 7:31:44 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Working in the funeral home business is one of those types of jobs that people don’t think about very much… until they have to. When a loved one passes, they must then confront a reality that exists for every human being.

Fortunately, there are people like Joshua Meyer and Kenton LeBlanc ready to help guide a family through an emotionally difficult time.

“In a way, it's a calling,” Meyer said. “I kind of liken it to someone becoming a minister. It’s the type of job not a lot of people consider, but for some of us it becomes a passion in our life. I really like being able to help people in their time of need.”

Born in Salina and raised in Wichita, Meyer attended Kansas State University and was studying nuclear engineering.

“Being a poor college student, I needed a job, and I went to the job board on campus. A funeral home was hiring college students. I worked a lot of nights and weekends, but it paid a really good hourly rate.”

Working at a funeral home was supposed to be a temporary job for Meyer, but as often happens, Fate intervened.

Meyer met his wife Jamie at K-State. They wanted to get married and start a family. And live in Kansas.

Meyer knew he had a lot of schooling left to be a nuclear engineer, and a job in that field would almost certainly require them to move out of state.

“One of my bosses at the funeral home suggested I consider the mortuary business as a career. I thought about it, and decided he was right.”

After graduating from mortuary school, Meyer worked at the Broadway Mortuary in Wichita for several years, and his wife taught school in Whitewater. They moved to Concordia in 2001, and Meyer went to work with Jim Buoy at Chaput-Buoy.

Meyer is now a licensed funeral home director and licensed embalmer in the state of Kansas. In 2004 he became the manager of Chaput-Buoy Funeral Home, and is also the vice-president of Tibbetts Brothers, which own 13 funeral homes in Kansas and south central Nebraska.

Kenton LeBlanc was born and raised in the Clifton-Clyde area. He did a lot of work for area farmers growing up, got an auto mechanics degree from Beloit Vo-Tech, and even worked at ARVOS for a few years as a welder.

In 1989 he started working at Chaput-Buoy part-time.

“I didn't even own a suit,” LeBlanc said. “They sent me down to Daylight Clothing, and Art Slaughter fixed me up.”

After a short time, LeBlanc also heard the calling.

“I was just really drawn to the business, and the way it was done at Chaput-Buoy,” he said. “They were really dedicated to helping people.”

LeBlanc went to mortuary school in Kansas City, and graduated in 1991. He is now a licensed mortician and embalmer in both Kansas and Nebraska.

The funeral home began with George Chaput, who opened the first Chaput Mortuary in Clyde in 1923. Chaput-Buoy now has 3 full-time employees, and 8 part-time employees on its staff in the Concordia, Clyde and Jamestown areas.

As with any business nowadays, technology plays an integral role. But it is perhaps less so at a funeral home.

“We now have 4 computers instead of three typewriters to handle all our paperwork and documents,” Meyer said. “But the work we do – such as embalming and makeup – is still pretty much the same technology as 50 years ago.”

It may be surprising to know, but being a mortician means you are much more of an artist than a technician.

“What we do to prepare the deceased is really an art form,” Meyer said. “We rely very little on technology. There is an advanced skill level in the restoration process that cannot be duplicated with machinery.”

The type of death and cause of death heavily impact the work a funeral director must perform. Though embalming is done for preservation purposes and to sanitize and disinfect the remains, a serious accident may require an extensive amount of restoration art. Mathematics often play a significant role in facial reconstruction, and special care is needed for hair and makeup.

This type of work lays bare the emotional burden of being a mortician: coping with the passing of loved ones.

Like a doctor or nurse or police officer, morticians are on the front line of human tragedy.

Funeral directors are often one of the first people that the family of the deceased will speak with.

“There is a grief-cycle that every human being goes through,” Meyer said, “and it's our responsibility to be the liaison for the family. We must be compassionate and understand the emotional suffering, but also guide the bereaved through the steps that must be taken.”

Most of us will have to cope with this type of grief and sorrow a handful of times during our life. Funeral directors are intimately involved with the grief cycle several times a week. In their career, they will bear witness to human grief and tragedy thousands of times.

“It’s not easy to cope with sometimes,” Meyer said. “You definitely need an emotional release.”

That grief cycle has a greater impact in a small town. Funeral directors are often called upon to bury a friend.

For Meyer and LeBlanc, the most difficult challenge involves the death of children.

“Every parent hopes that they never have to bury one of their children,” Meyer said. “When it’s a young child, it becomes extremely difficult for us, too. We’re trained to handle the emotional aspects of a burial; it's our job to be there to support the families. But we're also human beings, and honestly – especially with children – it can really get to you.”

Another surprising fact: in a small town, a burial can have a lasting effect on the relationship between the funeral director and the surviving family members and friends.

“Sometimes it takes awhile to reestablish the old relationship,” Meyer said. “When they see me, I’m an immediate reminder of the emotional pain they just went through. I understand that. I realize it comes with the job I do. But I will always be there for the families, no matter what, and no matter how long it takes.”

LeBlanc agreed. “I am passionate about what I do. I've lived in this area my whole life. Families rely on me to help them through what is an extremely difficult period of their life. But there are parts of my job that are really hard sometimes.”

Both Meyer and LeBlanc spoke at length about their obligation to the community.

“It’s what I chose to do; it’s what I want to do,” LeBlanc said. “We’ll always be here when families need us.”

“Both my wife and I now have a deeply personal investment in Concordia,” Meyer said. “I have a passion for the people here, so that means I have a dedication to performing my job to the best of my abilities and providing the people of this community with the best service possible in their time of need. I want to be the one this community can rely on to help through the first – and often most difficult step – in the healing process.”

Both morticians noted a significant change in the funeral business over the past 10 years.

“There is definitely a rise in the number of people who choose cremation before burial,” Meyer said.

Now, in the state of Kansas, cremation accounts for almost 50% of all funeral services.

For a long time cremation was a cheaper alternative to a burial service because there are no embalming or preservation costs. But the industry is a business, and a business adapts to the demand. Cremation rates are rising dramatically.

Meyer points out that everyone, especially as we get older, should tour a funeral home.

“We are all going to pass away some day, and it's just realistic to get an idea of the steps that need to be taken. Being better-prepared and a little more informed of the processes can be very helpful to the family.”

Whether it's cremation or the more traditional burial service, Meyer noted one common fear and comment he often hears when people talk to him about their own eventual passing –especially from women.

“I don't want you to see me naked!” Meyer said.

He was quick to point out that, like a doctor or nurse in a small town, it is just one aspect of the job he does.

“It’s a necessary part of the process, and all individuals are treated with the utmost respect and dignity.”

Chaput-Buoy… serving the communities of North Central Kansas with dignity, compassion, and respect for almost 100 years.

TOPICS: Arts/Photography; Business/Economy; Local News; Religion
KEYWORDS: cremation; death; funerals; kansas; morticians

1 posted on 09/07/2018 7:31:44 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Making funeral arrangements for the deceased is hard to do. I expect to get hit by the beer truck sometime before January so I’ve been trying to make arrangements for my own Viking funeral so it’s a slam dunk and prepaid for.

I don’t need much as I’ve opted for plain cremation no services or reception. The only thing I want is for my son to know it’s my body being creamated by itself and my son is receiving my ashes. That’s been difficult to do because of the ashes ready for delivery after creamation is a bit long. It exceeds the five days he’s going to have to travel

So for me I look at the families of the deacesed and loved one having the responsibilities for carrying out the wishes.

2 posted on 09/07/2018 8:09:49 PM PDT by Fhios (♫ Oh Where have you been Jeffy boy Jeffy boy oh where have you been charming Jeffy?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

This is a good piece and shows some details of a job that most of us are glad we do not do. Thanks for posting it 2ndD!

3 posted on 09/07/2018 11:30:31 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: jocon307

An industry that’s never had a recession that I know of.

4 posted on 09/08/2018 3:10:18 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland US. There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

My good friend died in May....I made the mistake of touching her shoulder at the “viewing” was just a natural thing for me to do....aaaggghhhh...she was Frozen.

5 posted on 09/08/2018 8:23:11 AM PDT by goodnesswins (White Privilege EQUALS Self Control & working 50-80 hrs/wk for 40 years!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Years ago, we had a funeral director in our scout troop. He was one of the most amusing and upbeat parents, always smiling and joking—a relief from his work, I imagine. He and his wife and kids lived above the small funeral parlor, and since one of the sons was a troop member and expecting to join the business one day, the scout troop was invited to the funeral parlor for a tour of the work rooms (no remains were being processed at the time) and a Halloween sleepover in the visitation room. Eek! Eek! The experience did much to demystify the end of life experience for the boys,.

They were a wonderful Christian family in an old-time working class city neighborhood (this is a decade before the opioid crisis starting hitting white working class). But they eventually felt the need to move away from the city to a rural area, because of the horror of having to process a steadily increasing number teenagers shot in gang slayings from the nearby hispanic and black ghetto neighborhoods. Tragic.

6 posted on 09/08/2018 9:59:02 AM PDT by Albion Wilde (Ain't no reaching across the aisle in Hell.)
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To: Fhios

Let your son know that there’s a disclaimer that some of the ashes in your urn came from other people.
I had an employee that worked part time at a funeral home and he tell all these stories. Some judge had died and the family got a court order to make the funeral home clean out the oven so that their dad’s ashes were not mixed with anyone else’s.

He would tell how you could hear the grease popping when the body was from a large fat person. Then how they have to grind all the knuckle bones that don’t burn completely.

7 posted on 09/08/2018 10:19:52 AM PDT by shotgun
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To: Albion Wilde

A classmate of mine one year ahead of me in a smaller rural high school was an apprentice funeral director while he was waiting to graduate and go to college. I imagine he’s still doing it.

8 posted on 09/08/2018 1:58:53 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland US. There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

It’s certainly an honorable profession.

9 posted on 09/08/2018 2:20:24 PM PDT by Albion Wilde (Ain't no reaching across the aisle in Hell.)
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