It was well past business hours at Robert Anderson Funeral Services when Robert Parmenter was still at the door being revisited and thanked by a family who had suffered a recent loss. This is the type of person Parmenter is, a person who seeks to deliver “service from the heart.”
Parmenter has been in Fort McMurray for over 38 years and recently joined Robert Anderson Funeral Services after obtaining his Funeral Director Licence in 2021. From 2005 to 2019 Parmenter was an Ordained Minister with MGA Church.
“I went to Bible School in Ontario and went into the ministry from there. The reason for me doing that is my heart for the people. I want to do what I can to help. I didn’t know that along the way I was being prepared for basically, something like this” he says.
Parmenter began to perform the majority of funeral services at the Church after being mentored by a senior pastor. With his interest in the funeral industry, he began to help out part time at Robert Anderson Funeral Services. Parmenter’s empathy and vulnerability to handling sensitive situations like the loss of a loved one was respected by the community. In turn, word of mouth spread fast which led Parmenter to become a full time funeral director.
“I had a lot of compassion for people who have suffered loss. The most fulfilling part is being there for families with no questions asked. I am able to help families through a time of transition and answer a lot of questions that a lot of people don’t know about. What’s the next step, and unfortunately, there’s a lot of people that have no idea what to do.”
Parmenter’s previous experience as an ordained minister has assisted him as a funeral director with being able to provide people emotional support.
“I prefer to meet families in their home setting. Families always are kind of on edge, if they have to go to a church to make arrangements or if they have to go to a funeral home, it takes them out of their comfort zone.”
It is clear a job like this is not for the faint hearted. Parmenter describes that giving a family the invoice is the hardest part. There are emotional aspects too that come with the job. He says that he has broken down in front of families but it is important to show compassion.
In part with his dedicated character, Parmenter has always volunteered his time serving on boards, at the hospital, with the RCMP and many more organizations.
“I just wanted to let people know that I’m here to serve them with no questions asked. Whether personally or through the funeral home or as a funeral director, as a minister, whatever the case may be. It’s just about being here for the people and to let them know that, I’ve transitioned from being inside the four walls of a church to being able to help them in many different ways.”