FIVE GENERATIONS OF SERVICE AT SAMART
It’s nearly indescribable: the aftermath following the loss of a loved one. During this trying time in their lives, families and friends of the deceased look for not only expert guidance and assistance but also tender care when choosing the proper services that celebrates, mourns and honors their fallen. People of the Bayou Region and beyond have been trusting the Kees-Lawrence family with such services and care of their late loved ones for several decades, as they have been turning to Landry’s, Thibodaux and Samart funeral homes.
“When you have that connection to a family, whether it be you’re meeting them for the first time and you make a connection with them in the arrangements or you’ve known them for years, personally, I find it’s important for me to want to try to be there through the whole process,” said Sarah Kees Larose, licensed funeral director and embalmer and 5th-generation member of the family business.
Sarah, and the rest of 5th generation of the funeral directors, including Stephen Kees, Jared Kees and Travis Lawrence, who have all worked in the family’s funeral business since they were teenagers, are all extremely hardworking and efficient in every aspect of the funeral business, as their grandfather, Douglas Kees, instilled in them at a young age.
“Our family members are licensed crematorium operators, licensed embalmers and licensed funeral directors. We have the availability, the knowledge and the capability to go from the initial contact with the family all the way to the end of it,” said Jared. “We might have a day off here and there, but a lot of times we end up coming in and working on that day off just because we feel needed and have a responsibility to the family that we serviced—to take care of them through the whole process,” Sarah added.
The not only family-owned but also locally-owned business has a full-service funeral home in four locations (includes the towns of Houma and Thibodaux) and two layout facilities in Labadieville and Napoleonville. At each full-service location, the staff members are adept to handle crucial pre-planning, personalized funeral services, thoughtful gifts, burial, and much more, especially at their newest state-of-the-art facility at 4511 West Park Ave.
The new funeral home has the most up-to-date technologies, such as a virtual casket showroom, and marvelous kitchen/reception area with modern décor and appliances. For the slideshow presentations of the deceased (a service offered free at all full-service locations), the building has a Spotify account—which allows patrons to access tens of millions of songs that can be played during the presentation and/or reception—to have an even more personalized experience that remembers their loved ones well. With a crematorium also at the location, for those that choose cremation, there are exquisite urns, jewelry and various other items on display that hold remains of the deceased.
In addition to keeping up with the times, the family added the new facility to better serve their community and reach out to more families.
“For me, it was a sign of establishing our ability to service a large area and gives me hope for the future that we can continue to grow and serve the local areas, and maybe even expand beyond that,” Travis shared.
By servicing six parishes (even sometimes crossing state lines to do burials in other states), their ability to stay with a family throughout the entire process and always evolving to better fill the needs of their customers, there is no question that the business—originating back to 1888—has unparalleled dedication in our area.
“I just take pride in the fact that we’ve served this area and we continue to serve it,” Stephen said. “I think being that we’re a family business, we serve our community better than businesses that are corporate owned or owned from a conglomerate outside this area.” •