By SHELLY WILKISON
For more than three decades, the Beck family has been caring for Liberty Hill area families on the most difficult days of their lives.
That’s why it wasn’t an easy decision for the family to sell their building in Liberty Hill last year to RockPointe Church.
“We’re friends with the pastor at RockPointe, and he was talking about how they wanted to grow, and were looking for a building like we had there,” said Funeral Director Blake Henderson.
Henderson said that even though the funeral home established a stronger presence in Liberty Hill when it renovated the former Sendero Events Center a few years ago, most local families preferred to use the traditional chapel at Beck Funeral Home in Cedar Park.
“More than half of our families still wanted to come here,” Henderson said. “Maybe it was because Jan (Beck Cleveland) was here and the facility has a more traditional chapel setting, or because other loved ones had been buried through this location.”
He said the chapel at the Cedar Park location can seat more than 300. Because Liberty Hill has no hotel, having a hotel across the street in Cedar Park is an added benefit for families expecting relatives and guests from out of town. He said the funeral home in Cedar Park is a short eight miles from Liberty Hill.
“For the last 15 years, we’ve been serving the majority of Liberty Hill from this location. That’s why we sold it (the Liberty Hill facility) to the church,” he said.
Henderson added that the funeral home continues to work closely with Liberty Hill churches when families prefer to hold services in their home church.
“But for me the biggest deal was that I couldn’t be out there and we didn’t have a family member stationed in Liberty Hill,” Henderson said. “We didn’t want to just hire a manager who didn’t know our values and stick them out there. If we had done that, it would have made us like any other corporation.”
Beck Funeral Home, which has locations in Cedar Park and Round Rock, is still family owned and operated. At a time when big corporations are buying up local funeral homes and crematories, Beck may be the only family-owned funeral home remaining in northwest Williamson County.
“These are our families, and these are our communities,” added Cleveland, the Funeral Director based in Cedar Park. “It’s a ministry and we want to serve people in a way we want to be served.”
Henderson added that with big corporate funeral homes, the personal touch is often lost.
“We are still small minded, I guess. We believe we need to have our hands on it and know the family will be taken care of to our expectations,” Henderson added.
Cleveland said the business becomes more about meeting the bottom line and less about serving families.
“It’s kind of like a Walmart versus your locally owned business. You go in, you know the person, you see the same person every time. It’s about trust,” she said.
Henderson and Cleveland are third generation funeral directors, following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents who established the first Beck Funeral Home in Round Rock 35 years ago.
“This business was just another extension of serving families,” she said. “That’s what interested them.”
Henderson added that because the business is family owned, the pricing is more fair.
“We’re able to keep our prices fair. We don’t have CEOs and corporate people to pay, so we’re able to help more families and keep our prices fair,” he said.
In recent years, Beck Funeral Home in Cedar Park added a reception room, which allows families to hold a reception before or after a funeral service, or even at visitation.
The funeral home can cater everything from a full meal to simple refreshments, and any type of beverages.
“People can now have the service and reception in one location, and they like that,” Cleveland said.
Henderson added that the priority is to take care of the family.
“So that means they tell us what they’d like to do and we figure out how to get it done. Sometimes we have to think outside the box, but we’re good at that,” he said.
Like their parents and grandparents, Henderson and Cleveland have deep roots in central Texas and share a commitment to public service. And their commitment to Liberty Hill hasn’t wavered just because local operations were moved back to Cedar Park.
Henderson said they still contribute to the Liberty Hill Cemetery and are sponsoring the annual Homecoming event there June 4. They also provided a tent for the Sculpture Festival last fall at Lions Foundation Park.
“Through philanthropy, we’re still an active part of the Liberty Hill community,” Henderson said.
Sue Dye, Beck’s community outreach representative in Liberty Hill, is still on the job, Henderson said. She is active in the Liberty Hill Chamber of Commerce, attends various community events and spends time every week playing piano in area nursing homes and assisted living residences.
“One of the biggest things is that we want Liberty Hill to know we’re still here for them,” he said.
Henderson didn’t rule out the possibility that Beck Funeral Home could one day build a more traditional funeral home in Liberty Hill. He said with the growth of the community and the growth of their own family, the interest might be there in the future.
“We have a strong connection to Liberty Hill families that goes far beyond a building,” Cleveland said.