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BLACKFOOT â€” Blake Hawker has never had any inhibitions about becoming a funeral director. He believes this is what he was meant to do.
Hawker, 27, earned his mortician's license in December and will now work with his father Perry as a funeral director at Hawker Funeral Home on Shilling Street in Blackfoot, with the intention of eventually taking over the family business.
When asked why he chose the funeral business as a career, Hawker replied, "I grew up around this business. I helped at funerals when I was kid. This is all I've known."
Hawker graduated from Snake River High School in 2004 and went on to serve an LDS mission in Brazil. After returning from his mission, he attended BYU-Idaho, earning a bachelor's degree in business.
Hawker said that upon returning from his mission and attending college, he felt more strongly than ever that the funeral business is where "he was meant to be."
Hawker then attended Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colo., where he earned an associate's degree in Mortuary Science.
Hawker said this was no easy feat as classes in psychology, chemistry, biology, anatomy, physiology, pathology and 'Thanato Chemistry' (the chemistry of death) are all required.
Hawker says he is not squeamish or uncomfortable about death, saying he draws on his faith and that, "it's all about keeping your eye on the big picture."
"Death is something that everyone is going to have to deal with at some point in their life. We are only here for a very short time."
In fact, he and his wife Alexandria currently live in an apartment in the basement of the funeral home.
"Living in a funeral home doesn't bother me a bit," he stated. "I grew up around cemeteries and funeral homes. This is more like home than anyplace else."
Hawker said the best part about his job is helping people get through an especially difficult time.
"It's my honor and privilege to help people through a tough situation," he said. "There is a positive in everything."
Hawker said that the thing he likes least about the job is "the unknown."
"I am on call 24/7. You never know when the phone is going to ring," he noted.
Hawker said he and Alexandria, who are expecting their first child in March, love Blackfoot and are eager to make friends with everyone in the community as his father [Perry] has done through the years.
"I love how my dad knows everyone by name and is a friend to all. That's what I want to do...get to know the people and become a friend," he said.
"I am blessed and I feel it. This is a beautiful facility for our business and there is so much love in this community."
Hawker said thathis father, who has has owned and operated the funeral home since 2002, is still in charge for now, but after working long and hard for many years, he will eventually back away from the business and take some time for himself.