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Best Funeral Ever Premieres Monday on TLC

December 2, 2013

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Best Funeral Ever Premieres Monday on TLC

For most of us, death is a time to mourn and shed tears for the departed. For others, it’s a time to honor their loved ones with unique “Home Going” celebrations. At the Dallas-based Golden Gate Funeral Home, owner John Beckwith Jr. and his staff organize the most unique funerals in the country to celebrate life. No expenses are spared to create celebrations as unique as the people who have passed on, with equally unique parties for those still living.

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When you imagine your funeral, do you picture grieving friends and family with their faces covered in tears — or would you prefer a wild party with your favorite music, drinks, and plenty of laughter? If it’s the latter, John Beckwith Jr. is the man you want to talk to for the Best Funeral Ever.

John E. Beckwith, Sr., established the Golden Gate Funeral Home in Waxahachie, TX, in 1980. The funeral home is known for hosting elaborate home goings, where a person (or loved one) pre-plans a custom celebration of life that can include everything from bowling to making breakfast for the deceased. A far cry from the traditional, everyone-in-black services that most people think of when they imagine their funeral. For 26 years, Beckwith’s son, John Beckwith, Jr., has been the funeral director and embalmer-in-charge; here, he shares some of his expertise on home goings, funerals, and the wildest request they’ve ever received.

John Beckwith Jr.

How would you explain a home going to someone who has never heard of the concept before?

A home going is the celebration of passing from this life to eternal life. We believe the person is returning back from where they came.

What percentage of your business is made up of home goings vs. traditional funerals?

95% of our services are traditional. We handle 125 themed home goings per year.

What’s the average cost of a home going?

We say, “Less than a wedding. Less than a luxury car. More than a year’s supply of Diet Coke.”

What’s the weirdest request you’ve received?

A space funeral.

What’s the most memorable home going Golden Gate has facilitated?

I believe Mr. Jerry Bagley; we celebrated his life at the state fair.

Do you know of any celebrities that have had home goings?

Yes, James Brown at the Apollo and Michael Jackson at the Staples Center.

How are the attitudes of the guests at a home going different from those at a traditional funeral?

Home goings bring a celebratory attitude. A traditional funeral brings a more reserved attitude.

What are some home going trends?

The home going trends are moving towards personalization: Personalizing their caskets and urns. Personalizing clothing by requesting costumes or casual dress from guests. Choosing music that represents the deceased’s different aspects of life, ranging from country to gospel and R&B.

What’s the best part of your job?

Satisfying families at the most memorable time of their lives.

Watch Best Funeral Ever Mondays at 10|9c

Interested in learning more about home goings? Contact Golden Gate