Caring for families is what Beck does best
By SHELLY WILKISON
On the day that is likely to be the hardest day, having a caring team of professionals taking care of every detail can set the grief-stricken on a path to finding peace.
At Beck Chapels & Events in Liberty Hill, caring for families on the most important days of their lives is a responsibility taken very seriously. Whether it’s a funeral or memorial service, a wedding, a birthday party, an anniversary reception or a family reunion, the facility is a place where Liberty Hill families can go to celebrate life.
Now open at 170 CR 214 in what was formerly Sendero’s Event Center, the Beck family has upgraded the sound system and made some improvements to the event side of the building that accommodates up to 1,000 people.
In the smaller portion of the facility is Liberty Hill’s first funeral home complete with a chapel that can seat up to 90 guests, and a selection room that features samples of caskets and urns. The transformation of what was once a restaurant and bar is remarkable.
Funeral Home Operations Manager Charla Aleman explains that the Liberty Hill location is not a mortuary. The deceased are cared for at the company’s mortuary on RR 620 in Round Rock, which also has a crematorium, and brought back to Liberty Hill for services.
“We are simply set up as a place to hold a visitation and chapel service,” said Aleman, a licensed and experienced funeral director. “We will never do any preparation here.
“There is comfort in knowing that when we bring a deceased person into our care, they never leave it,” she added.
As the events side of the facility has wedding receptions and special events booked throughout the year, Aleman said some jest about having a wedding in the same building as a funeral chapel.
“But this isn’t so unusual when you think of the fact that we have weddings and funerals in the same church,” she said. “It’s the same thing, and isn’t something that should make people uncomfortable.”
With funeral home locations in Cedar Park, Round Rock and Pflugerville, Aleman said Beck has been caring for Liberty Hill families for the past 20 years. Opening a chapel here just made sense.
“I had my wedding reception here in 2006,” said owner Blake Henderson.
Henderson said he was in Liberty Hill in November 2014 and decided to stop in and speak to the owner of what was then Sendero’s.
“Twenty minutes later we had a deal,” Henderson said. “It all worked out well. This place is just like a church where you can have weddings, funerals and birthdays.”
Henderson and his aunt, Jan Beck Cleveland, are co-owners of the Beck funeral homes. The Beck family has been in the Round Rock area since the 1930s, and opened their first funeral home in the 1980s.
Henderson is a third-generation funeral director. His grandfather, James Henderson, started in the business just after World War II. He chose to attend funeral school on the GI Bill in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Blake Henderson’s father, Rick Henderson, moved to Texas to attend Texas Lutheran University, and now runs Phillip & Luckie Funeral Home in Rockdale.
“He (Rick Henderson) is the best funeral director ever,” his son said. Henderson said the word “no” isn’t in the Beck family vocabulary.
“We go the extra mile every day for every customer,” he said.
As an example, Henderson said he personally designed and built a casket for his uncle, Billy Luckie, who has a knack for Caterpillar tractors. He took special care to use the company’s signature colors inside and out. His uncle was amazed by the work.
“We are driven by what the customer wants to do,” said Aleman.
The funeral industry has seen many changes through the generations. The growing interest in cremation has sparked businesses that can shoot remains into space or create jewelry and crystal that incorporate ashes from the deceased. Ashes can be made into diamonds, and woven through crystal vases.
“It’s about keeping part of your loved one close to you,” Aleman said.
She said Texas has a higher cremation rate than the industry predicted it would. However, Liberty Hill and other mostly rural areas of the state continue to prefer burial.
“The mindset of a burial family is different from that of a cremation,” Aleman said. “When there isn’t a casket there, there needs to be something else there to help the family mourn. Cremation is more difficult on a family.”
Aleman said she enjoys helping families plan memorial services. For a recent service, the family brought in the motorcycle of the deceased and other items to help family and friends “create a memory.”
“Whether it be a motorcycle, golf clubs, grandma’s knitting that she didn’t finish, or even the dirty gardening gloves, those items belonged to their loved one and bring back memories of them,” she said.
Aleman started her career in the funeral industry 17 years ago, working first as a weekend receptionist at a funeral home in Pasadena. Funeral home manager Paul Esposito, who later became her mentor, told her she should go to mortuary school. After working in East Texas and the Houston area, she was chosen 12 years ago to help bring National Cremation Service to Texas.
“I worked as a corporate Funeral Director for over 10 years,” she said. “In 2008, I followed my parents to the Hill Country – worked for a funeral home in Georgetown. I was with them through some growing pains, but decided to move to Beck Family in September 2014.”
Raised in a strict apostolic faith, her own beliefs have helped her cope in a job that exposes her regularly to overwhelming grief.
“You don’t direct a family,” she said. “When they walk through the door, they develop you. Some need more from you than others.”
Coming to know a family at what is likely the most difficult time in their lives, and offering guidance through painful decisions often creates a lifetime bond between Aleman and the families she serves.
“Starting the grieving process is important, and a lot of times it starts here by asking a lot of questions about their loved one,” she said.
Aleman said caring for the families who have lost children are the most difficult for her.
“Sometimes I just have to take a day off to sleep,” she said. “Those are the hardest to walk away from.
“When I know at the end of the day that the work we did made the day a little easier for the family, then I’ve done my job,” she said.
Aleman said those who make final arrangements for themselves prior to death are doing something very special for the family they leave behind.
“It relieves the family of so many difficult decisions, and really is a gift on what may be the hardest day of their lives,” she said.
Beck Chapel in Liberty Hill is complete with a comfortable family room and selection room that contains a variety of casket samples and urns in all price ranges.
Whether it be a more intimate space for a smaller service or reception or a larger area, Liberty Hill’s funeral home can accommodate all types of tributes.
Aleman said Beck Chapels & Events has a more familial feel to it than funeral homes run by big corporations.
“With corporate funeral homes, it’s about the bottom line,” she said. “I wanted the freedom to serve families as they needed us, and Beck really is a family-centered business and will be an assett to the community.”