EL PASO, TX — When El Paso experienced the worst mass shooting in 2019 and the third deadliest in Texas history on August 3rd, 22 innocent persons lost their lives and several more were severely wounded. Upon hearing the news, Salvador Perches, owner of Perches Funeral Homes, announced that his funeral homes would provide free services to the victims of the El Paso shootings, to help the families and the community cope through loss and devastation caused by one lone gunman. Several
other El Paso funeral homes followed Perches lead and also offered free services to the families, as well as united together to serve the community in the best manner possible.
Gail Rubin, Certified Thanatologist, the Doyenne of Death®, an award-winning author and TEDx speaker, was scheduled prior to give a Before I Die seminar at Perches on Aug. 17th. She also provided assistance with her speech, “Rise Again El Paso,” presented the day of the funeral of Margie Reckard, the last service of the 22 victims on Aug. 16th.
“The world came together for El Paso. We had persons from Australia and 10 different countries who have not even been to El Paso ordering flowers to honor Ms. Reckard and the other shooting victims. More than 1,000 arrangements were sent to the Reckard service and we had to move the event to La Paz Faith Center because our funeral home could not handle the thousands who wanted to attend the service and those invited by the family. Just for this service alone, we had more than 3,000 in attendance and our website had more than 1,000,000 clicks. It just goes to show that people do care about one another,” Perches said.
Rubin agrees with Perches and wishes she could have done more to help the community.
“I am so grateful I was there to help El Paso in their time of need. When this city, which is considered one of the safest cities in the United States, experiences a tragedy of this magnitude, it is going to be a long healing process. I hope my words brought some comfort and helped people through the grieving process,” Rubin said. To bring closure to the final funeral of the victims and to make a statement to
the world about the 22 victims, Perches got together with the other funeral homes who provided services to arrange for a 22-hearse ceremonial drive to the memorial site (one hearse for each victim).
“I came up with the idea because we had more than 1,000 arrangements that had been sent by people around the world for Mrs. Reckard’s service. I spoke with her husband about the idea and he felt this would be a fitting tribute to his wife and to the other victims. Contact was then made to all of the other participating funeral homes and all of them agreed that this can serve as a gesture of unity and a sense of closure for all of the funerals that happened from this tragedy. We had more than 50 volunteers load up the hearses with flowers that Sunday,” Perches said.
Participating funeral homes and the number of hearses were as follows:
– Perches Funeral Homes (7)
– Martin Funeral Home (5)
– Sunset Funeral Home (4)
– San Jose Funeral Home (4)
– Mt. Carmel Funeral Home (3)
“Like the community, these funeral homes came together for the sole purpose of bringing comfort to one another. We were not competitors through this whole process, but rather a unified force to help a community in crisis. This says a great deal about these funeral homes and about the funeral and cemetery industries. Our profession is the catalyst of care, compassion, hope and strength,” Perches said.