In many walks of life, women have had to overcome obstacles that have helped them not only survive but thrive in their chosen fields. That has been true in the funeral business, and for Angela O’Donnell, Jeanne Herman and Elizza Wesner, who work for D.O. McComb & Sons Funeral Homes, passion and persistence have helped them achieve their goals.
O’Donnell points out that for centuries women took care of the dead, preparing the body and arranging the funeral services. Only in the modern era, when funerals became a business, have males been the primary arbiters of these final rites.
Growing up reading anatomy books that her father bought her and watching medical shows fed her passion for understanding the human body. Her dream was to be a doctor. “But I became a mom at a very young age, and medical school was not in the picture.”
When it was time to think about a career after high school, she was encouraged by her grandparents’ neighbor who was a funeral director.
During her two years of mortuary school, O’Donnell worked for D.O. McComb & Sons. “Women were not largely accepted in the funeral industry, but D.O. McComb looked past that, and I was accepted.”
Now a wife and mother of three, O’Donnell has settled into the embalming side of the death care. “I focus on giving the family the last image of their loved one.”
Like O’Donnell, Herman describes herself as “super passionate” about what she does as a family service counselor for D.O. McComb. She helps individuals and families pre-arrange their funerals. But, Herman admits, getting to this point was not easy. Herman came to the U.S. from Brazil 12 years ago and, because of a divorce, found herself in her new country with a language she didn’t know and no family to lean on. “There are great opportunities in the U.S. You can do whatever you want to succeed here.”
Determined to write her own success story, Herman earned a master’s degree in higher education. “It was very difficult… I was on my own and had to face the language barrier.”
Today, she has made a life for herself among new friends and co-workers, as part of a “phenomenal” workplace.
Equally enthusiastic about her work as a family service counsellor, Wesner believes that women must find that balance between work and family. While giving her best to the families she serves, she finds that, at work and at home, teamwork is important. “It’s like a vehicle…it takes all four wheels working together.”
Mother of three and wife of an active community volunteer, Wesner makes time to support others through involvement with many local organizations.
“We work in a very emotional business, and if I can provide a small piece of compassion and direction, it can help.”
Phone: (260) 426-9494
Products & Services: Provide funeral and cremation services as well as pre-need funeral planning to create meaningful life celebrations.