Dealing with death in the valley |

Dealing with death in the valley

Bret Hartman/Vail DailyJan Thomas, left, and Mary Kerst, right, owners of Everett Family Funeral Home and Creamery, stand in the new building Monday while it's still under construction in Gypsum.

GYPSUM – When the Everett Family Funeral Home & Crematory opens in Gypsum later this month, its arrival, say some, will be long past due. It’s been 40 years since a funeral home has operated in the valley. For decades now, the closest mortuaries have been in Glenwood Springs and Leadville.”I was amazed when I learned the valley had no funeral home,” said Jan Thomas, the owner of the Everett Family Funeral Home. “There hasn’t been anybody locally,” added Mary Kerst of Eagle, Thomas’ daughter, who will be helping to run the funeral home. When a neighbor died not long ago, Kerst said she was upset at how long it took to to arrange funeral services. “We thought we could do better,” she added.

Everett Funeral Home will sell a full line of caskets and urns.It has been 40 years since The Eagle Valley has had a funeral home. At one time, there was a mortuary on the corner where the library now stands in Eagle. Previous to that, the two-story apartment building on Second Street between Broadway and Capital served as a mortuary. In the 1960s, the county’s population was about 4,600 residents. Four decades later, according to the 2000 Colorado Census, Eagle County had 41,659 residents. The Census Bureau reports some 46,000-plus residents in Eagle County as of 2004. With the growing population, the valley is also experiencing lifestyle changes. Whereas the valley’s population used to be largely transient, people increasingly move here with an eye toward raising families. Many second-homeowners are moving here to retire. The new residents consider the valley a home, rather than a temporary stop.”I think it’s something we’ve needed for a long time, especially at the rate we’re growing as a community,” notes Brent Merten, pastor of the Mountain Valley Lutheran Church in Eagle.The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported 43 deaths in Eagle County in 1990. By 2003, the number of death certificates filed countywide more than doubled, with 91 deaths reported.

Eagle County Coroner, Kara Bettis says a local funeral home can ease the painful process a bit for all. “Usually, we have to wait for the funeral homes to come pick up the deceased,” she said. “If they are coming from Leadville or Glenwood Springs, it can take a little while. It will save some time.”This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

New businessThe Everett Family Funeral Home & Crematory expect to open Sept. 22. Office hours will be from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; emergency hours are 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information on the Everett Family Funeral Home & Crematory, call (970)337-7010.Vail, Colorado

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