When Mike Heflebower opened the doors to his brand new hearse and funeral home recently in Highlands Ranch it was yet another first for the 32-year-old community.
“When Highlands Ranch was first zoned, it was zoned for a funeral home with preparation, a crematorium and a cemetery,” he said. “But it grew so fast, they zoned right over the top of it and never reallocated land for it.”
Heflebower, a licensed embalmer and funeral services director of 27 years, will have to use third-party services outside of Highlands Ranch to accommodate embalming and cremation, and with no cemetery inside the community’s borders, there will be no burials close by, but the home, located at 8955 S. Ridgeline Blvd., is open.
Heflebower Funeral Services has already begun hosting on-site memorial services, viewings, celebrations of life and funerals and, according to its director/owner can hold up to 75 people comfortably for services. If the service requires more people than that they will waive the costs involved and help you find the right place.
A Castle Pines resident, Heflebower has worked in and managed funeral homes and mortuaries in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado, spending the last eight years in Colorado. He played college football and studied pre-med at Hastings College in Nebraska, before attending mortuary school in Kansas City.
Comparing his job to that of a wedding planner, as he will happily arrange for all accommodations from flowers to music, the fourth-generation Coloradan said he is glad to be operating a smaller home after experiencing both extremes.
“In some of the larger places, you are a number, just the next one in line, they don’t take the time to be personal with you or make your service special for you,” he said. “I couldn’t stomach that. Having grown up in a small town, you do things on a handshake; your word is your word. When you leave we want you to be our friend.”
Heflebower, who knows that hello can be one of the toughest things after a loved one dies, said he felt a spiritual calling to be there for others in a time of need.
“When the phone rings, you leave and you don’t know when you are coming back,” he said. “You always have to keep in mind, that’s somebody’s wife, or mother, or son, or daughter. ... A lot of people always want to be able to be there for someone at a time like that, that’s what we specialize in.”
For more information, visit www.heflebowerfuneralservices.com or contact 720-344-6087. Office hours are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday and by appointment on the weekends. Heflebower remains on call 24/7.