By Tim Farley, News Editor –
Working several years as a hospice nurse prepared Tim Ingram for his current duties as general manager of Smith & Turner Mortuary in Yukon.
His compassion for people while caring for hospice patients remains a personal trait of Ingram’s when handling funeral arrangements for families who have lost a loved one.
“We (Ingram and wife Christy) felt a calling to come into this as a ministry,” he said.
Ingram graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma’s mortuary program in 2016. He immediately went to work for Smith & Turner. Armed with licenses as a registered nurse and a funeral director, Ingram is helping families be as comfortable as possible.
“We do all of our work in-house. We conduct the removal of the body, meet with family at their homes or anywhere they prefer and we do the embalming here,” he said.
Actually, Ingram will go wherever a family wants to set up funeral details.
“We will meet anywhere the family prefers. Everything is digitally prepared so we can take it with us,” he said. “I’ve dealt with death and dying for many years and you want to help the family deal with their grief and be compassionate toward them.”
Ingram got his start in the funeral home business when he was a teenager and played the organ at funeral services in Okmulgee where he grew up.
“I would leave school, come play for the service and go back to school,” he said. “I’ve come full circle starting in the funeral home business and coming back to it.”
All funerals at Smith & Turner are customized, Ingram said.
“What do you want? What do you want to see? Where do you want it? Those are questions we ask a family. They can have the service here or on their property. Some people have preferred outdoor funerals on their property,” he recalled. “People get together for two things – weddings and funerals and people don’t come together as much anymore for funerals.”
As a result, Smith & Turner has a gathering room that will accommodate about 50 people for a family meal. In one instance, a family did not want a traditional church service. Instead, the family was granted their wish of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres for the life celebration.
“We emphasize the gatherings because it helps with the healing,” Ingram said.
Smith & Turner always offers coffee, tea, punch and cookies for all gatherings, viewings and services.
“When there’s something to eat, people are little more relaxed,” the funeral director said.
In addition, Smith & Turner offers a free video that is played at the service. The video depicts the life of the deceased person. Although Ingram doesn’t advertise this fact, Smith and & Turner offers free funerals for children 12 and under. It’s not a gimmick or a trick to increase business. The offer comes from a compassionate heart for people who have lost a child to an early death.
“No one expects a child to die, so we do this as a way to give back to the community. The casket, burial property and service are donated so the family comes here with no charge,” Ingram said.
In his time as a funeral director, Ingram already has had some interesting requests for services. There was the family that requested music from Mega Death and another family that served A&W rootbeer because of the deceased’s love for the soda pop.
Sooner or later, Ingram is confident he’ll receive requests for people to be buried in OU or OSU wrapped caskets. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
“Some families are willing to be unconventional while others are more traditional,” he said. “We will give the families what they want.”
Smith & Turner also focuses on after-care and bereavement for the families who use the funeral home’s services.
“We walk with the family through that first year (after the funeral),” Ingram said. “We have personalized contact with the family. When a husband passes, the widow is often left with a list of things that need to be done or repaired at her house. We will help her take care of that or find someone who will do the work. We will work with the family in whatever they have going on.”
Ingram also is developing a weekly Grief Sharing program that will allow families to meet and talk about their experiences. Details will be announced at a later time.
Ingram’s wife, Christy, works behind the scenes when she’s not working as a registered nurse at an area hospital. The family also lives on-site, which makes Tim Ingram accessible at any time – day or night.
The residence was added to the funeral home years ago.
“We have been welcomed with open arms to Yukon,” Ingram said. “We are excited to be part of the community.”
Ingram serves as a board member for Yukon’s Compassionate Hands. He and his wife have three children – ages 5, 4 and 2.