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Funeral Director In Charge/Funeral Director/Preneed Specialist
Kris Rhodes grew up and attended schools in Clear Lake City (Houston) for 12 years before moving to Mexia, TX and graduating high school in 1991. She graduated Baylor University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health, Human Performance, and Recreation with a minor in Gerontology, while also working full time at Regis/St. Elizabeth nursing home.
In 1995 Kris and Scott Rhodes married, and Kris spent over 25 years assisting in Scott's youth ministry. The couple’s two sons, who both attended and graduated from Midway schools, one is currently enrolled in college. The youngest is a Waco area Realtor. Kris was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom for 15 years.
As a young adult, after attending a funeral, Kris was drawn to the organizational aspects of the funeral business. Later on, several classes at Baylor sparked her interest in death care. However, it was while assisting her mother in the funeral arrangements for members of her own family that her desire to be an advocate for families in their times of need began to grow.
In 2015 she joined the Grace Gardens family as a funeral assistant and her calling into funeral work blossomed. In 2017 she earned her funeral director’s license from Commonwealth Institute in Houston, and became a full time funeral director, allowing her to live out her greatest passion of serving others. Kris’ goal is to really hear and connect with families helping them create the meaningful experience they need when a loved one passes. She seeks to be creative and innovative, and strives to offer love and care to all. To Kris, it is her ministry, not her job. Her philosophy is “No ask is too small or too big, there is a reason it was asked, and we need to make it happen.”
Office Manager/Funeral Director & Embalmer Apprentice/Preneed Specialist
Samantha was born and raised in Axtell, Texas. She graduated with degrees in forensic science & anthropology from Baylor Univerity, while also working as a private caregiver in the Waco area.
After attending a funeral service for one of her family members at Grace Gardens, Sam felt called to serve in the funeral industry. Samantha began her service as a funeral assistant, but after the passing of her father in 2022 Samantha decided to fully committ.
Sam attends Commonwealth Institute in Houston, Texas; and has acquired her provisional license in both Funeral Directing & Embalming.
Sam is the glue that holds us all together, bringing innovation, creativity, and expertise in technology to Grace Gardens.
Funeral Director and Embalmer
Whitney grew up in the small community of Moffat, Texas. She is the youngest of three kids and was the official "sweet talker" growing up, always being able to get her and her siblings out of whatever predicament they found themselves in. She spent all of her school years in Belton; playing softball, showing pigs and lambs, and participating in numerous other activities through FFA and 4-H. After graduating high school in 2014, Whitney attended Temple College, earning a plethora of degrees, in surgical science. She moved to the China Spring area in 2020 and soon after found her passion in the funeral industry, which led her to attend Dallas Institute of Funeral Service graduating in March of 2022 with a degree in funeral services and embalming.
In her spare time, Whitney enjoys hanging out with her husband Travis while watching their pups, Jett, Harley, and Luke run around on their family farm. Whitney is also an outdoorsy gal and enjoys hunting and fishing on Lake Belton and the Texas Gulf Coast with her Papa.
Care Center Coordinator/Funeral Director/Embalmer/Aftercare Coordinator
Glenda was born and raised in Roswell, New Mexico where she experienced growing up on a ranch and farm run by her loving parents and grandparents when times were simple and family oriented. Growing up in that environment gave her a love and compassion for the understanding of life and death on a daily basis.
Glenda married her husband Lynn in 1974 and had three wonderful children who were her life and world for several years before she took a job in 1985 as a receptionist at Ballard Funeral Home in Roswell. She found a passion and inner satisfaction in helping others during a difficult time after the death of a family member. She decided to further her education in order to go to Mortuary school and become a funeral director at a time when funeral directing was dominated by males.
Glenda attended Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell, graduating with a degree in Business in 1989 and immediately went on to attend Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Services in Houston, TX where she graduated with honors and distinction; earning the Waltrip Award as most likely to succeed. During mortuary school and after graduating, she worked at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons in Houston before being transferred to Waltrip Funeral Directors as manager. Ventures would take her from Texas to Oklahoma for several years before moving back to Texas.
Glenda had semi-retired for a short time, but on January 30, 2018, she lost her only son after a very short hard battle with cancer which reignited her feelings and reopened all the passion and desire to help families who were going through what she had just lived through. Because of the care and compassion of Grace Garden’s Funeral Home during that difficult time, Glenda begin working for Higginbotham Funeral Homes of Texas, making Grace Garden’s Funeral Home her second home. During her career span, she has worked at funeral homes in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas over a period of 35 years in many capacities including funeral director/embalmer, pre-need consultant, aftercare coordinator, trainer, management, and care center supervisor.
Her hobbies include, antiquing, decorating for holidays, spending time with her family, and spoiling her grandchildren.
Office & Funeral Assistant
Kimberly Lester was born and raised in the Great State of Texas. She is a proud mother of 2 boys, as well as a grandmother of a beautiful grandbaby.
Kimberly has stepped into many different roles in life, but in her heart, she has a deep love for people and their wellbeing. Kimberly was introduced to Grace Gardens when a dear friend of hers passed away, Kim spent time planning and interacting with the Grace Gardens’ staff. Kim was approached with an opportunity to become part of the Grace Gardens family, and after careful consideration, she said yes. She said yes because of her love for people and the opportunity to help them in their time of grief.
In addition to her role at Grace, she is also a supporter and participant in Waco Fosters Love, Share the Warmth blanket drive for the Homeless, Out of the Darkness Suicide prevention and awareness, Hurricane support, as well as multiple fundraising coordination and organization events, and a supporter of the local talents in arts and music.
Kim wants all to know that they matter, her words of wisdom are “make a difference when and where you can!”, and her motto is "Be Kind", "Keep Smiling Always", "Peace, love and Happiness to all".
Kim brings genuine love, light, and caring for all that cross her path.
Ryan is a long time Woodway resident. He graduated from Midway High School in 2002.
Ryan is very detail oriented and is a huge asset to Grace Gardens. He began working as a funeral assistant in 2017. His organizational skills improved many facets of our daily operations. In 2019, he took on the role of crematory operator, using his gifts to provide reliable and dignified service.
Ryan is currently the crematory manager, overseeing all aspects of the cremation process. He also provides technical support and helps in other avenues of funeral service. Even though Ryan doesn’t serve families face to face, his support to the staff and his service of cremation is his way of offering support and care to all.
Ryan enjoys repairing antique clocks and watches, restoring antiques, collecting old photos, and fountain pens.
Chaplain / Grounds and Maintenance / Funeral Assistant
Scott grew up in the Houston area. However, his family visited Waco on a regular basis as most of his extended family resided here. Scott has degrees from Baylor University and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Scott has been involved in public education, Christian camping, and spent over 26 years serving in local church youth ministry and educational ministry. He continues his ministry by supply preaching, both for local churches and at Grace Gardens, and writing curriculum for various organizations.
He has been a great addition to Grace Gardens and a great support to the staff and many families we serve. If you encounter unsatisfactory conditions in the building, please inform him so he can fix it for you.
Care Center assistant/ Funeral Assistant
Don has 45 years of aviation maintenance, in both corporate and service center. He is also a veteran of the USAF.
Don and Connie will celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary in September of 2023. They have 2 adult children, 5 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
Don has 10 years of funeral home service experience.
He has a strong desire to serve in any capacity, any where at any time.
Don is also an ordained deacon. His desire is to serve our families and everyone he meets.
Alice is a long time resident of Robinson. With her husband Tom, they have served numerous churches in our area. They currently attend Renew.
Alice loves to travel and enjoys going to her grandchildren's activities.
Betty grew up in Bruceville Eddy. She has worked in the office of Midway High School and Lorena High School. She enjoys cruising, crafts and spending time with her grandchildren.
Betty and David have enjoyed 47 years of marriage. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.
Scott is a retired minister with 48 years of experience, he attends and serves at a local church. His ministry experience includes Youth Ministry, Executive Ministry and general pastoral duties.
He has an undergraduate degree in business and graduate studies in Theology and Church Leadership. He and his wife of 55 years, Linda have two adult children and two grandsons. Linda Talley is a retired high school English teacher. Scott is an encourager to all he meets and an asset to Grace Gardens.
Jan retired from Social Work in 2022, and has stayed busy with a personal pet service. She has also lent her hand to numerous friends who needed her assistantace.
She eagerly awaits the arrival of her first grandbaby this fall.
Tammy Freedman teaches 1st grade at a local public school. When she is not teaching, she enjoys working as an assistant at Grace Gardens and also spending time with her 3 amazing daughters.
After Care Specialist
born and raised in Houston, Texas. She is
a graduate of Texas A&M University, Galveston. She enjoys traveling with her husband and
taking day trips to the beach with her beloved dog.
Emily enjoys working behind the scenes and supporting our families and our staff. She is always a text away and is in constant contact with the funeral directors. Her caring and compassionate nature make her perfect for her role at Grace Gardens.