UPSHUR COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Ria Huitema lost the love of her life and looked for a way to help others deal with a similar loss. When she could not find the right casket for her husband, she crafted one on her own. Now, she offers others that same special touch.
The sign off Highway 271 spreads the message. $500 for a final resting place.
"Sometimes bad things happen and I wanted to turn it into something good," said Huitema.
Huitema opened Triple Seven Caskets four months ago turning a tragedy of her own into a way to help others.
"When you lose a spouse, it's pretty hard," said Huitema.
Her husband, R.T., was killed in a car accident at age 41. He left behind a farm equipment business and funeral plans Huitema took on herself starting with the casket.
"My husband was a country boy and he never would fit in something so fancy," said Huitema. "It wasn't his style."
So she created something that was, building a custom cedar tomb for the love of her life. The rewarding experience stuck and with no woodworking experience Huitema opened Triple Seven Caskets.
"I think everybody can do a lot more if you put your hands to it," said Huitema. "I couldn't believe we were starting a new business."
Sons Ricky and Randy do the heavy lifting when asked, but say mom caught on quick.
"My mom she always liked wood for some reason and she's doing what she loves," said one son.
In two days to a week, Huitema transforms cedar boards with routers and sanders into beautiful custom caskets.
"I like to add a personal touch and I like to make it represent the person," she said.
The self-taught craftswoman does so down to the handles. Using a metal cutter for the finishing touch. A cross shares her faith in an unlikely job she believes in.
"I'm surprised myself," she said. "I think they look pretty good...I didn't expect it to take off very fast but it will grow I believe this is God's will for me and he will bless me."
It is a blessing Huitema passes to others for this life and the next.
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