Breck mortuary open house attracts all kinds of people |

Breck mortuary open house attracts all kinds of people

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – Jokes intermingled with congratulations and well wishes at an open house at the Rocky Mountain Funeral Home in Breckenridge Tuesday night.

“Who comes to an open house for a mortuary? The morbidly curious,” offered Breckenridge resident Matt Krane. “People are dying to get in here.”

“People without a life?” another suggested.

Owner Justin Stephens took the ribbing alongside the support at the gala, which attracted about 50 people – friends, clergy and, OK, the morbidly curious – to see what a funeral home has to offer.

There are caskets and urns, of course. But the bulk of the mortuary is less somber than most, and more like the Victorian home it used to be before a variety of businesses made a go of it there.

Rodney Allen said he’s celebrated the open house of every business that opened at this red house next door to the Red, White and Blue Fire Department.

“Eagles, Amelia Earhearts, S the Firehouse Deli and Mahoney’s Market,” he said. “We’ve supported every one.”

Jokes abounded about doing business with Stephens, with most people saying they didn’t want to do so for a long, long time.

Stephens said funeral home services are needed here, particularly as more people vacation in the High Country and other services are available to help people live out their lives in Summit County.

“The No. 1 question I get is, “Do people really die here?'” he said in January. “They think it’s like Disneyland, that everyone who lives here is young and happy and healthy. The need is here.”

Others came to show their support for a business that hasn’t been seen in Summit County in almost 40 years.

“The Methodists are here because Justin’s an organist in the church,” said minister Sandy Stephens, taking a sip of punch. (She is no relation to Justin.) “A lot of people have never been to an open house for a funeral home. You’re not hearing canned organ music – this place has a different atmosphere than most. It’s reflective of Summit County.”

The funeral home is obviously a place where serious business takes place. Yet, simple touches – a pair of snowshoes on the wall, overstuffed couches and a piano – give the home the feel of a log cabin. The old wood floor is polished to a shine, the narrow windows let in an abundance of light, and informational pamphlets are discretely placed in a sitting room.

“This is a service this community needs,” said Ruth Fields, a new employee at the mortuary.

While some wonder what sort of person attends an open house for a mortuary, others wonder what attracts people to the industry.

“It’s very much a calling,” Stephens said. “It’s almost a ministry. There is a great reward in assisting people when they need it most. I like to say “I care for the dead – and also the living.’ People never need you more than when they’ve lost a loved one.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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