In the three years that Rae and Barry Tuck have owned Yates Memorial Services, the couple has worked hard to better help their clients and the community in their time of need.
The Tucks were recently featured in Canadian Funeral News magazine for the way they have restructured their business to better help their customers.
“It’s a humbling opportunity to have somebody come up and say, ‘We see what you’re doing, and we’d like to share that with others.’ To me, it just tells us that we’re going in the right direction and we’re doing this for the right reasons,” said Barry, who runs the operations at the facility.
“Our profession used to be very much about ‘This is the casket you should buy.’ and ‘This is the traditional funeral.’ Those days are long gone.”
Barry said they like to think of Yates as more of an events centre for families to come and celebrate the lives of their loved ones.
“It’s more of a celebration of life now; they don’t want the traditional casket at the front of the church. They want it more personalized.”
Rae, who runs the financial side of the business, said Yates Memorial is able to help the community because of its two locations. Yates Memorial Services in Parksville has a crematorium, a cemetery and a funeral home, while the the Port Alberni location offers a cemetery and funeral home.
“That means a lot to families. It’s peace of mind that they’re not shuffled all around places. They just come here and they’re in our care,” said Rae.
With that, Rae said, it takes a special person to be able to sit with families each day and help them in their time of need. One of those people, she said, is Barry.
He said the most important thing to have is empathy.
“You can’t be part of someone else’s loss, but you have to have empathy for what they’re going through and then be available to help them.”
He said the right kind of person needs to care.
“Those are really easy words to say, but it’s another thing to actually do so.”
Barry got into the business in 1982 in Duncan while he was playing junior hockey. He said he got a car washing job at a funeral home there.
At the time, Barry said he and Rae were dating and he ended up staying in town.
“I started in a maintenance roll. As the summer went on, by September I was off on an apprenticeship,” he said. “It’s just kind of been forever.”
It was through Barry, Rae said, that she got into the business.
In 1995, she said, they moved to Manitoba and she worked for Barry at a funeral home he was managing. Rae said she then broke out and worked in commercial property management for 16 years.
Then in 2010, Rae said, Barry came to work at Yates while she still worked as a property manager in Nanaimo.
But it wasn’t until 2015, when the couple purchased Yates Memorial Services, that they worked together once again.
“It made sense with both of our business skills for us to work together and buy the place.”
Despite working together (and actually living on the property), Barry said the two of them don’t intersect at work too much throughout the day.
“We cross paths all day long and we share back and forth, but my area is the day-to-day operations and Rae is the financial piece.” Barry said.
I’m not really in her space of things that need to get done and she’s not in mine — unless we need to be.”
“It’s three years into that (working together), so we would know.”
In their three years owning the business, Barry said they have tried to evolve the company to better serve the needs of the community.
One of the ways they’re hoping to help the community is with green burials.
Barry said the plan is to introduce the idea of green burials in the fall.
“It’s very, very common now for people to ask us (for it),” he said. “There’s enough influence from families now that we’re listening.”
Barry said Yates will be the only other cemetery on the Island, other than Victoria, that will offer green burials.
With the introduction of green burials to the community this fall, Barry said, there will be a seminar to help educate people on what constitutes a green burial.
“We have casket burial in the ground — it leaves an imprint. Cremation has less of an imprint, but green burial has even less than that.
“You can’t embalm the body because you’re introducing chemicals to the body which are in the ground. You can’t have metal in the casket because then there’s metal in the ground,” he said.
To find out more about Yates Memorial Services, visit www.yatesmemorial.ca.