Brad and Ana Macha purchased the Wharton Funeral Home in 2013 with hopes of continuing the legacy set by its founding owners in 1948 — a tradition of compassion, consistency and dignity that families can turn to in their time of need.
Brad began his mortuary career in 1997, following his completion of the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Services (CIFS) program and a one-year apprenticeship in the Wallis/Sealy area. He worked to perfect his practices and skills for 10 years in that area before joining the Wharton Funeral Home in 2006.
Ana left her 18-year-long nursing career to join her husband in 2013 after obtaining a degree in funeral directing from CIFS.
Together, the duo manages almost every aspect of the funeral process.
“Our mission is to help the family find closure without pushing one particular service or another. We really try to customize the goodbyes for each individual. We help them find closure and to aid the grieving process by taking care of the details.”
“Ana came in about a month and a half after we purchased the funeral home,” Brad told The County Gin. “She helps with the paperwork, preneeds (funeral arrangements planned before death) and financials, which allows me to focus on the other aspects of the funeral process.”
Brad takes lead on the preparation of the deceased, including: cleansing/disinfecting; embalming; body restoration; makeup; male grooming; and dressing.
“He is great at preparing the loved one for their final appearance,” Ana told The Gin. “He covers all aspects of restoring if there was any sort of trauma and is very good at makeup and men’s grooming. The only thing he doesn’t do is women’s hair; with that, we try to call (the deceased’s) preferred beautician to come in and style or cut like they would normally have done.”
The business owners know that each time their services are needed, comfort and consideration for the loved one lost is the number one priority.
“Being in this business is all about fulfilling wishes from the loved one or the family members,” Ana said. “Our mission is to help the family find closure without pushing one particular service or another. We really try to customize the goodbyes for each individual. We help them find closure and to aid the grieving process by taking care of the details.”
Brad agreed, saying, “If you take into consideration every religion and practice or personal wish, not one service is the same as the next.”
With gained experience, even the most tailored wishes can be fulfilled at a moment’s notice.
“Like we said, not every service is the same,” Ana told The Gin. “Some services have been planned for many years and some might be a sudden or unexpected death. We have made many connections within and outside the community that we can usually find a way to make specific requests happen rather quickly.”
Improvements and additions
Despite a rather fast-paced business, Brad and Ana have renovated the facility to better accommodate families.
“When the business was being sold by the previous owners, they wanted to update the interior of the building, which was built in 1986,” Brad told The County Gin. “I think in their minds, they wanted the new owners to have a say in that process, so they sold it as is. We, meaning mostly Ana, had a vision of what she wanted the new fixtures, flooring and such to look like.”
With plans and designs in mind, the couple worked toward fulfilling those facade goals; however, life of a funeral home director and county mortuary transporter can leave little leisure time, let alone time for construction.
“In addition to our funeral and embalming services, we also perform mortuary transport services for Wharton County,” Ana explained. “Anytime there is a body found, whether by homicide, traffic accident or natural death, we transport the body to the medical examiner in Rosenberg for the county. Our phones ring nonstop some days. So, we started the updates little by little when we could find the time.”
“Even during this time, I find that people still need that reassurance and that comfort. For me, it’s been very sad to know that many have had to postpone services or skip them all together. It was very hard to tell that family that, ‘This is all we can do at this time.’”
Ana continued, “It wasn’t like our services were at a total standstill due to COVID-19, but we had more families either postpone or opt for an outdoor service with less occupancy limitations, which left our chapel available for repairs and upgrades.”
Some of those renovations to the funeral home include: removing wallpaper; painting; installing new lighting; installing a new PA system; installing new flooring; installing a security system; adding garage doors; converting rooms; and installing a refrigeration unit.
“We have completely renovated the interior,” Ana said. “We have converted the repose rooms into one bigger room for families to utilize and adding the refrigeration unit has really helped downsize the transportation time.”
Brad explained, “We have 24 hours for either embalming or refrigeration to take place once that member is in our care. Prior to having this refrigeration unit, we had to take them to a refrigeration unit either in Houston or Victoria. Once that was becoming more and more common, we decided that it would be beneficial to install one here.”
The pair continue providing families of Wharton and surrounding areas with compassion and care during their time of need.
“These improvements enhance our efforts to provide top-notch services for our community,” Brad said.
At the start of the global pandemic, Brad and Ana remained vigilant to ensure families received the proper closure to a loved one lost, even when state-mandated limitations offered obstacles.
“Even during this time (COVID-19), I find that people still need that reassurance and that comfort,” Ana said. “For me, it’s been very sad to know that many have had to postpone services or skip them all together. It was very hard to tell that family that, ‘This is all we can do at this time.’”
With sanitizing products and masks purchased, the couple worked with each church, minister and location to accommodate the restrictions.
“Some families were affected more because of the size of the family,” Ana said. “But we have been able to carry on, just taking each service one at a time. The need has not lessened. Changes are made and we go along with them.”
The Wharton Funeral Home is located at 515 E. Boling Highway in Wharton.