A new funeral home will open by the end of spring in downtown Victoria.

The business, 412 N. Main St., will be in an 8,000-square-foot building that business partners Joey Rodriguez and Kyle Marthiljohni bought last year. The building, which most recently was a title company, had sat empty for years.

"We love the historical downtown Victoria area, and we drove by this place and figured out," it was right, said Rodriguez, 52, of Victoria. "We don’t want to be anywhere else. Victoria, Texas is us. We live in Victoria, Texas. Downtown Victoria is the best place to be."

About a year and a half ago, the friends partnered to create Heaven's Gate Funeral Home, which will offer affordable services and cater to all funeral needs ranging from cremation to prearranging, they said. Rodriguez has wanted to open one for several years because he said there's a strong need in the local market for an affordable but high-quality funeral home.

"Joey, he has a lot of passion for helping people ... I enjoy helping people (as well), and sometimes, when you lose a loved one, it’s the most emotionally draining experience you could ever go though. To help people in that time in their life and make a career to help people through that is rewarding," said Marthiljohni, 34, of Victoria. 

The business partners said if a family doesn't have the funds right away to fully pay for services, Heaven's Gate Funeral Home would still cater to their needs and accept the rest of payment later.

"We want people to be able to lay their loved ones to rest and not have to break their backs or their bank to do it," Marthiljohni said.

The service side of the funeral home will have a large chapel, a grieving room and a coffee and bistro area. The other side of the building will be used for planning, embalming, casket selection and any other business related needs. The friends are almost done renovating the interior and the exterior of the building giving it an open and inviting look, they said.

Rodriguez has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer for about 25 years, and Marthiljohni plans to get the same licensing.

"We're a one-stop funeral home," Rodriguez said. "We're a licensed shipper for anywhere in the world (and can) ship remains of a loved one to outside third-world countries. ... We do all the paper work for the families."

Rodriguez also owns Sunset Mortuary and was the Victoria County contract for transporting the deceased for 17 years. The business now has a contract with Cook-Butler Funeral Home locations in Edna and El Campo for embalming and transport and will not be affiliated with Heaven's Gate Funeral Home, he said.

Marthiljohni is a U.S. Navy veteran. The business partners said they care deeply about taking care of veterans who have died.

"I love my country, and we love our veterans," Marthiljohni he said.

Kathryn Cargo reports on business and agriculture for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at kcargo@vicad.com or 361-580-6328. Follow her on twitter @kathryncargo.

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Kathryn Cargo covers business and agriculture in the Crossroads. She enjoys reporting on industry trends and getting her shoes dirty out in the field.

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