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DeFord hired as funeral home intern

Justin DeFord is officially an intern at Blackmer Funeral Home.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Justin DeFord is officially an intern at Blackmer Funeral Home.

— An eighth grade field trip from Sts. Peter and Paul School changed the course of Justin DeFord’s life.

“Mrs. Killmar took us the funeral home, which might seem sort of weird to some people, but I was fascinated,” said DeFord.

During the next couple of years, DeFord went back and forth between thinking he might like to go into anesthesiology or become a mortician. As a sophomore he began working for Jeff Blackmer at Blackmer Funeral Home.

“I knew right away,” he said. “I started helping with services and just doing more and more,” he said.

DeFord worked for Blackmer all throughout the remainder of high school, working each morning before school all during his senior year.

“I felt like it was so rewarding and I felt good knowing I could be there for people in their time of need,” he said.

DeFord is now an intern at the funeral home. He spent the past year since graduating from Grangeville High School at Lewis-Clark State College as a general studies major. He attended classes Mondays and Wednesdays and worked the rest of the time. He lives above the funeral home and is on call 24-7.

“It’s definitely a big help for me,” Blackmer said. “Justin is a rare individual who really understands this job isn’t meant to make you rich, it’s really a ministry.”

When DeFord finishes at LCSC he will then go through an on-line course for mortuary college through Arapaho College in Littleton, Colo. He will also have to spend some time there to complete hands-on labs. He will continue to work under Blackmer, who supervises and mentors him. He plans to become a licensed mortician and funeral director by June 2017.

“There have been a few people who just don’t understand why I would do this,” Justin said. “But it’s such a blessing. I get to hear people’s stories, their history, and help them out during a very difficult time. I am profoundly passionate about it.”

DeFord said a big reason he enjoys his job is because of Blackmer.

“He is literally three-quarters of the reason I am here,” he said. “He is so great to work with and I have learned so much.”

Blackmer comes from a long lineage of funeral directors in his own family and worked every Saturday in a funeral home growing up.

“I did everything, including cut the grass, just like now,” he laughed. He got his license in 1985 and came to Grangeville to work with Fred Noland in the ‘90s, later purchasing the business. When he remodeled the funeral home several years back, he decorated the inside with photos and items belonging to his family members, past generations who were also funeral directors.

DeFord said he is glad to be where he is and enjoys being out in the community and with people.

“He’s a great fit here, he really is,” Blackmer added.

For questions about pre-planning call 983-0740.


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