September 18, 2021
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James Rincones
Courtesy photo / Ellis Funeral Homes

No matter how much it’s expected or how carefully it’s planned for, the death of a loved one is a difficult life event.

James Rincones, apprentice funeral director at Ellis Funeral Homes since June 8, tries to make that time just a little bit easier.

“I’ve always had a passion for people, for helping folks, and I became very intrigued by going to funeral services,” he said. “So much more takes place during this time than the general public knows about. It’s a whole new world, an opportunity to make the worst experience in a family’s life just a little bit easier.”

Rincones has had his crematorium certification for seven years. He currently attends Amarillo College’s Mortuary Science program via distance education. After graduating and passing his National Board Exam in December, he will be a fully licensed funeral director.

“I’ll be authorized to transact business with the Texas Department of Insurance for any type of arrangement or pre-arrangement,” he said. “Luckily, Colt Ellis and the folks here are giving me that extra push I need to get things done, to get them moving along fluidly.”

During 2020 and part of 2021, COVID caused funeral homes to re-think the way funerals are conducted.

“So far, everything is back to what we knew as normal,” Rincones said, “but options do exist for the elderly or those who are immune-compromised to watch a funeral from a retirement home or a hospital.

“It’s been a year of learning curves, of finding a work-around for the things that we took for granted. We’re able to do more as opposed to rather than.”

Rincones says other types of technology such as green burial and alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation, may change the funeral business further.

“Right now, people still prefer the traditional burial or cremation with any type of memorial before or after. Other types on the cusp will be on the rise within five to 10 years, but for right now, traditional burial and cremation are the way to go.”

For Rincones, the gratitude that he receives after the memorial is the most rewarding part of his job.

“It’s getting that one shot and executing it perfectly, the smiles, hugs, handshakes and gratitude that comes from the families,” he said. “It’s a ministry. That didn’t make sense at the time I went into it, but every day it becomes more apparent.”

The reality of death is part of being a mortician, yet people in the profession often seem remarkably cheerful.

“We do have a little bit of difference in viewing and appreciating life,” Rincones said. “It’s so often that we see the alternative. Death is inevitable for all of us. It’s going to be there for all of us, one way or another, one day or another. It’s in how we handle the reality of it daily.”

A Levelland native, Rincones lives in Lubbock with his wife Chelsea (Meyers) Rincones. The family is planning to move to Muleshoe following the birth of their child, her first, early in 2022. Rincones also has a 12-year-old son.

Gail M. Williams

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

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