Jessica Jensen | Managing Editor
After graduating from Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn High School, Angela Selzer obtained a degree in broadcasting. She went on to work for an area radio station and then to a video company, training managers in three different states. When advances in technology forced the company to close, Selzer took steps toward a career she’d always had in the back of her mind — being a funeral director. She recently joined the staff at Jurrens Funeral Homes, which maintains facilities in Larchwood, Hills, Minnesota, Rock Rapids, George, Little Rock, Sibley and Ashton and provides services for the surrounding communities.
Selzer’s first experience with the funeral process piqued her interest in the profession.
“When I was in high school, one of my best friends’ dad passed away and I was there with the family through almost the whole process. I had never been through that before. I saw the funeral director come in, talk to the family and I was there for the funeral,” said Selzer. “He was so caring and made everything really easy for the family and I thought, ‘Maybe I could do that, be that comfort to a family during that time of need.’ But then I just kept putting it out of my head.” Selzer said over the years she would think about that situation, seeing herself as being someone to be there for a family in that need. As she made her way down other career paths, Selzer said she realized she lacked passion for some of the jobs she was doing and her thoughts would turn back toward being a funeral director. “The thought just kept coming back, ‘Maybe I should just go back to school for that’,” she explained. “Finally, when the video business closed it seemed like a perfect time. I could focus on studying.”
She enrolled in the mortuary science program at Des Moines Area Community College and completed a year-and-a-half of online courses, traveling to the campus for testing and some certifications. While she was in school, she completed an apprenticeship at Jurrens Funeral Homes working under licensed directors Jerry Jurrens, Brian Jensen, Brad Jensen and Bob Feauto, fostering a good fit for Selzer as a licensed funeral director and a full-time role.
Already familiar with the communities Jurrens Funeral Homes serves, Selzer says she faced few challenges as a licensed director, but one stands out. “Young people. That’s when the job is hard,” she said.
She’s also come to realize the one aspect of this career path that she is most passionate about: “Trying to help make everything smooth for the families,” said Selzer. “You learn so much about the deceased person because of the family sharing all the stories and memories and details of their life. It’s great at the end of the process of honoring their life to know you’ve been able to help the family in some way. It’s an honor knowing you’ve provided some measure of comfort.”
Finding passion in helping those grieving