“Can you imagine a day when the world’s first drive-in funeral theater would be in the headlines? Or imagine a time when thousands of people at home would choose to watch a televised life tribute instead of attending a funeral service. That day is today and those things are happening right now at Mission Park”, says Kristin Tips, president of Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries.
We caught up with this thirty-something lady whirlwind, who together with her husband Dick Tips, is reinventing funeral services during a national pandemic and dramatically expanding one of the largest family owned funeral businesses in Texas.
Kristin’s story of becoming a funeral director in her twenties and then a statewide funeral commissioner appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to help shape the future of funeral services in Texas, is all about overcoming challenges and following your heart.
“When I look at where I am today and how I got here, I will always appreciate the lessons I learned from overcoming learning disabilities, losing my father and meeting my husband Dick”, Kristin remembers thoughtfully.
When young Kristin began the second grade, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. The learning disability was a major challenge to her education but with her mom’s relentless search for the right specialists to help her, and the encouragement of her family, Kristin was able to graduate from high school early at the age of 16 and begin preparing for college.
She credits the training and conditioning that enabled her to excel in her studies, in spite of dyslexia, for helping to shape her character. At the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, she majored in Business Administration, with minors in marketing and management. The first in her family to pursue a college degree, she also completed the requirements for a real estate license.
“My dad passed away my second year in college. It was unexpected because he was only 54,” she explained. “He was my best friend and the one who encouraged me to continue my education after high school.”
Her father’s early death was a life changing event for Kristin.
“Something in my heart changed when I had to say goodbye to my father so unexpectedly. I was touched by the funeral director’s compassion and care in handling my father’s service. I credit him with inspiring me to consider becoming a funeral director myself. Once I saw how important a funeral director could be in helping people through difficult times, I knew that was what I was supposed to do with my life.”
Returning to college, Kristin entered the Miss San Antonio scholarship pageant to help pay her tuition. Impressing the judges with her beauty as well as her intellect and warm personality, she walked down the runway wearing the winner’s crown carrying an armful of roses.
The following year, she won the title of Miss Texas Galaxy in yet another scholarship pageant. In her senior year, Kristin won the title of Miss Galaxy International based on her oral interviews, her scholastic achievements and her charitable work. The combined scholarships paid her tuition and allowed her to finish her college degree debt-free. The titles also came with a list of personal appearances, and Kristin met her future husband at one of them.
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