By Kait Kelly

When John Moore was eight years old, he started his own pet funeral service.

“He would go around with his little red wagon burying animals in the neighborhood,” said his wife, Dawn Moore. “He would parade them up and down the street and have a little service for them and everything.”

John Moore began mentoring at Huber Funeral Home with founder Bill Huber in 1981. After 18 years, John Moore became president of the firm, taking on the daily operations with Dawn. A year later, the name was changed to Huber-Moore Funeral Home.

In 2010, John Moore passed away. From then on, his wife has taken over the operations of the firm.

“I was 18 when I started dating my husband, so I’ve been in this really since then,” Dawn said. “When he passed away, it wasn’t like I was just thrown into this. I’ve been around it long enough and have gotten to watch Mr. and Mrs. Huber.”

Alongside Dawn is manager/funeral director Angela Ryan, who explains possible options to the families.

“The biggest thing that we do here is educate families,” Ryan said. “I don’t ever want a family to come back and tell me there was an option they never knew about.”

Ryan is also trained in educating the children.

“A lot of people don’t want to tell their children about death, but the more open you are with children, the better off they are to understand,” Ryan said. “I talk to children, and we share stories. We do colorings that they can put in the casket, or little notes depending on the age. It’s not just adults that grieve; children grieve, too. If children don’t understand death, a lot of times they act out or have issues being sick. I explain that to families when they come in, and then it’s up to the parent to decide if they want their child to participate.”

Dawn said owning a funeral home is not just a job — it’s a lifestyle.

“It becomes a part of you,” she said. “You go home with it every day.”

Moore and Ryan don’t see their jobs as depressing, but at times, a little emotionally draining. Overall, they used one word to describe their days: rewarding.

“What we’re here for is to help people through one of the worst times in their life, and that’s not depressing,” Moore said. “We’re always here for the family before, during and after. Our family is serving your family. Do you know how many times someone calls us who’s had someone pass away years ago? They still call. When somebody passes away, usually everyone’s around for a week, maybe two, and then they go back to life as usual, but we’re still here, and we understand. Now that my husband passed away, I definitely know that it is not over after a week, or two, or a year. I don’t care how many years go by. You remember.”

Ryan is also a life celebrant, which is used when the deceased has no affiliation with any particular religion or chuch. A life celebrant is trained and certified to design and conduct a personalized life celebration service. Life celebration services can include as much or as little religious content as the family desires. The service may also include stories, music, poems and more. Life celebrants work with the loved one’s family to create a unique, personalized, loving remembrance of the deceased.

“I dedicate the entire service to that person,” Ryan said. “I don’t just insert a name. It’s very detailed. It takes me about 10 hours to write, sometimes longer. What we like to do is represent the life. At the end of life, sometimes people go through really rough times, but that’s not what their whole life was about. We try to capture what they’ve done in their life and what they stood for. We try to celebrate them.”

Ryan said she sits with families for hours going through pictures and hearing their stories. She said reliving memories helps families, and it also helps her to see who their loved one was through their eyes.

Huber-Moore Funeral Home has other ways to make each service personal, like providing butterfly or dove releases, and photo montages. The staff encourages families to bring whatever they would like to the service.

Working at a funeral home, Moore said people often assume she has become used to death.

“If anything, we’re more sensitive,” Moore said. “We’re very open, welcoming, warm and fuzzy. We’re not what people expect. We’re just normal people.”

Huber-Moore Funeral Home is located at 517 Farnsworth Avenue in Bordentown. Phone: (609) 298-0330. On the Web: