As a place where people can gather to celebrate the life of a loved one, the funeral home provides important services for each community. This month we sat down with our February Business of the Month, Tia Ocampo, owner of Montgomery-Stryker Funeral Home. Tia purchased the business on January 2nd of 2018, after having spent 10 years working for the previous owner, Dave Montgomery (who had owned the home for about 30 years). Tia’s story is unique as the funeral industry has typically been a ‘family’ business where ownership comes from the family succession. Working as a funeral director was Tia’s childhood dream. “It’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I was nine years old. I started volunteering in funeral homes. I went to college in Lincoln to get my associates in human services to have a counseling background before going to mortuary school in Kansas City, Kansas.” Tia has been in the business for over 17 years. “I put myself through school and I’ve worked very hard to get to this point,” she said, “Dave Montgomery contacted me when I was working at a funeral home in Colorado to see if I would be interested in coming up to Laramie. At the time, I was looking for different jobs and it was the best decision ever, as I was able to take over.”
Tia is driven by their purpose to help serve the Laramie community and fulfill the needs of loved ones that have passed. “Once we receive a call that a loved one has passed away it is typically the same Funeral Director that helps the loved one’s family through the process of making arrangements to celebrate their loved one’s life in the best way for them, whether it’s a traditional burial, cremation, or donation. It’s is our responsibility as the Funeral Home to provide all the options available.”
Montgomery-Stryker Funeral Home keeps busy with 200-250 calls a year by providing services not only for our local community but for surrounding communities and assisting out of state funeral homes.
Working in the funeral industry is a commitment to a different lifestyle, often long and sporadic hours, making time-off a challenge. “I got into this business to help people and I knew what I was signing up for,” she responded, “It’s a completely different lifestyle.”
Finding the right person to work in a funeral home is challenging. Tia’s current staff includes 2 full-time assistants.
Tia has found her commitment to serving families as a Funeral Director very gratifying. “The most rewarding part of this business is when a family is so pleased, they hug you, and just appreciate you. Getting a thank you card from a family means the world. It’s the little things that you know you’ve treated the family well and have fulfilled their expectations. I’ve worked with a lot of families over the years.”
Montgomery-Stryker Funeral Home is passionate about supporting the Laramie community. Tia noted, “We take a lot of pride in providing the best services that we can for the community, and we try to be involved in community functions. We do a lot with the agricultural community and other local organizations. I’m a member of the Zonta Club of Laramie, which is an organization that advances the status of women on a local and international level.”
Running a funeral home is an active mix of communication skills, compassion, helping people cope with death as well as organizing and event planning. “It’s balancing the business part and then taking care of the family.”
Montgomery-Stryker Funeral Home
2133 Rainbow Ave
Laramie, WY 82070