By Amanda Rogers
As one of the oldest businesses in Mansfield, Blessing Funeral Home has seen a lot of changes. Now, the century-year-old funeral home is focusing on the future.
Cheryce Moss, 32, knows the history of the big white house on the hill, and she respects it. But as the new local leader (what Lucas Family Funeral Homes calls their managers) she is looking at the future of the oldest funeral home in town.
“Blessing is one of the best-kept secrets in town,” said Moss, who took over in April. “So many times I have had to explain that we are here.”
Moss took the reins from Kelly Wallace, who retired from Blessing in July after 27 years but still works part-time with the funeral home. Blessing has been a fixture in the community since opening as the city’s first funeral home in the 1800s, burying thousands of Mansfield residents, but with the city’s growth, Moss is now marketing to a whole new audience.
The building housing the funeral home has an even longer history, dating back to 1870s when the structure was built for John Collier as part of the Mansfield Male and Female College at 401 Elm St. After the school closed, Dr. W.B. McKnight and his family owned the home, but in 1944 swapped homes with T.E. Blessing and his wife. Blessing had operated his funeral home on Water Street (now Main Street) since 1920 after taking over from his uncle Andrew Bratton, who had started the funeral business in the late 1800s.
The business changed hands several times, and is now owned by Lucas Funeral Homes.
Moss wants to share the funeral home’s history and get more involved in Mansfield.
“We need space to be community focused,” Moss said. “We need to let them know what we offer and the history. We want to let people know we are here.”
Blessing participated in Mansfield’s Veterans Day Parade with their Harley hearse, and Moss plans to be involved in more community events.
Besides Moss, Blessing has several other funeral directors on staff, including Winthrop Wofford, Joe Ballesteros and Jordan Rupp.
Although young, Moss has worked at seven funeral homes, starting when she was 19 as an administrative assistant.
“I call this my blessing while walking my dog,” she said. “I am the first mortician in my family.”
While walking her puppy in Fort Worth, she saw a woman in a beautiful purple suit, who offered her a job. She accepted without even knowing what or where the job was. On her first day of work, she discovered that she would be working in a funeral home.
“I fell in love with it,” Moss said. “There’s a lot of people that do not know what to do when something happens. It brings out the teacher in me. You have to deal with all types of moods and personalities.”
COVID-19 changed everything, she said.
“With COVID, only so many people could be in a room at one time,” Moss explained. “We used to tell people ‘you’ll have to find someone to record the service.’ Now, we live stream all over the place. The pandemic has helped the funeral industry reach inside and do things we didn’t think we could.”
Being a funeral director and embalmer may not seem like a career choice for everyone. And for people of color, it wasn’t an option in a lot of places, including Blessing Funeral Home, for many years. Moss knows that side of the funeral home’s history, too.
“My personality gets me through a lot of things,” she said. “I don’t care what color you are. We are going to help guide you on what needs to be done. We serve any and everybody. If you come into this building and you’re hurting, we’re going to help you.”
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.