During the summer of 1986, I began working part-time at a funeral home in my hometown of Vienna, Missouri. Birmingham-Martin Funeral Home did about 80-100 calls per year and the owners were family friends.
I worked at Birmingham-Martin through the remainder of high school and college at Missouri Science and Technology University (was University of Missouri - Rolla). At the University of Missouri - Rolla, I earned a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and a Master's degree in Statistics. In 2010, I completed the requirements for a PhD in Educational Leadership from Iowa State University.
Following the Master's degree, I went to Mid-America College of Funeral Service where I earned an Associate degree. During my time at Mid-America, I worked at Garr Funeral Home in Sellersburg, Indiana and continued there for my internship following graduation. Toward the end of my internship, I moved to Seabrook, Dieckmann and Naville Funeral Homes in New Albany, Indiana, where I worked until January 1997.
In January 1997, I began teaching Funeral Service courses at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida. I taught there until moving to DMACC in August 2004 to begin the Mortuary Science program.
On March 10, 2011, my wife, Lisa, was diagnosed with a rare cancer that by the time it was found had metastasized and spread throughout most of her torso, including 8 tumors along her spinal column, her liver, her left adrenal gland, her kidney, her spleen, etc. The cancer grew and caused a spinal cord injury that left her unable to walk in May 2011. She spent 9 months learning to walk again. In the spring of 2012, the cancer grew dramatically, and no treatments were proving effective. On June 6, 2012, she lost her battle with cancer. Our Journey through both anticipatory grief and acute grief, has left me with a stronger desire to educate students on how to conduct funerals which are meaningful to the families they are entrusted to serve. It has instilled in me a desire for DMACC Graduates to be the best trained Funeral Directors in the country.
Now, the most important aspect of my life is two energetic kids. Joshua is the oldest and he participates in Cross Country and (Marching, Concert and Jazz) Band, but his true passion is his gizmos (XBox and iPhone) and looking cool driving the car to school. Cailey is my youngest and she plays soccer and Band (Concert and Jazz) as well, her true passion is helping others whether at home (taking care of Josh and I) or fellow students at school. Both are extremely intelligent as Joshua loves math and Cailey loves reading and writing.