Fireman? Absolutely. Cowboy? Sure. Astronaut? Of course.
Funeral parlor director? Not so much.
It’s not one of those professions little boys dream of some day entering and it was no different for Robert Perez, owner of .
The Moorpark native, who just opened an extension of his Camarillo-based business in Moorpark, was a paralegal with intentions of going to law school when he received his calling to the profession about 10 years ago, he said. When his grandmother died after a long illness, Perez was by her side.
With no funeral home in Moorpark, the family had to go out of town for services and Perez worked with an Oxnard business to make arrangements. It was in the midst of this trying time that he saw there was something in him that wanted to be there to help other families through the same troubles, confusion and profound grief his own family was experiencing.
“To be able to comfort someone and remain calm after just losing my grandmother, it had to be a calling from God—or my grandmother,” he said.
And so he began interning at the funeral home through which his grandmother’s funeral was held. Though his parents were taken aback by his decision, it absolutely fit with his compassionate personality, said his mother, Rosy Perez.
“He’s always taken care of people. He’s the one who is always wanting to help,” she said.
After getting his funeral director license, he went into business with a partner and opened the Rose Perez Funeral Home before going into business on his own about three years ago.
Now, he’s opened a funeral parlor in Moorpark. With deep family roots in the city, he’s been working with officials to bring his business here for some time.
“We really wanted to be in Moorpark. That’s where we grew up. That’s where we were raised,” he said.
In fact, the Perez family history goes back generations in Moorpark. His great grandmother was one of the first Hispanics to own a house in the area. His mother, who now helps with funeral arrangements, worked for the Moorpark Unified School District for years and knows two generations of students who matriculated through Moorpark schools.
“That’s why we felt we belonged in Moorpark,” Perez said.
Perez’s new office, which is part of his home, is the only business of its type in town, but that’s not why he hopes people will come to him in their time of need.
“It’s not just about choosing a place, but choosing a family that cares for them,” he said.
His mother explained further:
“It’s not fun for the families who have to be here, but we can make it a little easier and let them know we understand exactly the hurt they’re going through,” she said.
With comfort in mind, the family and staff welcome guests into a soothing environment, offer them gourmet coffee or tea and find themselves sometimes having to serve as a family member, a banker and a peacemaker all rolled into one.
Perez said at some corporate-owned funeral homes, staff members are taught how to keep from getting involved, but he chooses to work from a different business model.
“I follow the advice my mom always tells me,” he said. “Treat everyone as if they were Grandma’s family.”