Letter to the Editor: Proud to be part of Norco’s revitalization with New H.C. Alexander Funeral Home location

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 8, 2022

Dear Editor,

After going through a pandemic and Hurricane Ida, if there is one thing I’ve learned about Norco it’s that the people here are resilient. And this is a close-knit community. As a funeral director at H.C. Alexander Funeral Home, I’ve had the privilege to get to know these families in a very personal way. Guiding someone through dark, difficult times is never easy, but it does create a special kind of bond. And after eight years, pretty much all I want to do is serve these families. I want them to know I’m here for them no matter what.

Earlier this year, I learned just how much they are here for me, too. When a fire damaged H.C. Alexander’s Fourth Street building beyond repair this past January, I was touched by how many of them reached out to check on me and my staff. Just as the destruction of a landmark building like H.C. Alexander was a blow to the community, it hit very close to home for me as it’s where my career as a funeral director began.

As a woman on the younger side, I often get strange looks when I tell people what I do for a living. But for me it kind of seemed like a natural fit. My father is a retired homicide detective for the City of New Orleans, and my stepmother is a psychotherapist. So, growing up, death was something we spoke about freely in my house.

Then, when I was 18, a close friend of mine was killed in a drunk driving accident. It changed something in me. At that age, you think you’re invincible. However, being suddenly faced with painful proof of how uncertain life can be, my friends and I were mourning and just feeling lost.

Looking back, I remember how my friends leaned on me in that time, and how, even on such an awful, tragic day, I was thankful that we were able to go to the funeral. Because we needed that funeral. We needed a way to say goodbye to him because he was taken from us so suddenly.

I think it’s part of the reason that, from the moment I set foot in H.C. Alexander Funeral Home, I knew it was where I was supposed to be, a place where I could help people when they need it most. And the work I do is fulfilling in ways I hadn’t imagined.

But 2022 has been a trying year. The fire came just a few months after Norco had been beaten up by Hurricane Ida. There were blue-tarped roofs all around. People were still living in RVs in front of gutted houses. To have an anchor of the community like H.C. Alexander’s Fourth Street location gone after over 70 years was jarring.

Thankfully, by working with local churches and some of H.C. Alexander’s sister properties in the surrounding areas, we have been able to continue serving Norco families all year. But I still get asked every day, sometimes several times a day: When will H.C. Alexander be back in Norco?

And I love to share the good news that we are renovating a new location that’s set to open next year. A former Capital One bank, the building had been empty for 10 years. I think it’s wonderful that H.C. Alexander is playing a part in revitalizing a Norco neighborhood. I’m also excited about everything we’ll be able to offer families in the new building. We’ll have a bigger parking lot, a larger parlor chapel and a much bigger kitchen that can accommodate more events and catered receptions.

We’ll all miss the Fourth Street location and all the history and memories it holds, but a bright future is coming into focus for H.C. Alexander Funeral Home. I’m just grateful to be part of this new chapter and to return to Norco where we belong.

Liz Ford