WARSAW — Cory Benz worked as a paramedic for seven years before making a career change.
He started as a volunteer firefighter in high school. Other firefighters suggested he attend EMS training and the department would pay for it. During EMS training, his instructors recommended he go further and become a paramedic.
“Before you know it, I spent seven years in a career that I enjoyed but never intended,” he said. “I always meant to be a funeral director.”
His grandfather died when Benz was 9 and he was curious while at the funeral home as to what was behind the closed doors. What was a curiosity turned into a calling.
“This job is a ministry,” Benz said. “I come into people’s lives at a time it’s still an emergency,” he said, explaining he guides them through this once in a life-time experience. “I’m in this to help people. There is an innate drive to help people,” he said.
Benz grew up on a Clydesdale farm in the Arcola area, outside of Fort Wayne. He commuted from there to Warsaw when he was a paramedic with Multi-Township. Now he’s settled on Chapman Lake and his younger sister, who is the executive director of Wabash County SWCD, and brother-in-law, who is a hydrologist, live nearby. He is the middle child with an older sister, who is a banker.
He attended Ivy Tech in Indianapolis for mortuary school. “This job is threefold, there’s a third that’s medical, with embalming and chemistry. There’s a third that’s psychological/social where people are grieving and there is a third that’s small business management,” he said. He said the one thing that surprised him was the business side, such as having to study accounting.
He’s in awe of the relationships he’s built with the families he’s served. “I’ve built such close relationships that I feel like a member of the family,” he said.
One unique aspect of the business is the 24 hours, seven days a week aspect. “It’s one thing I never considered, but people die at 3 a.m., people die at 4:30 a.m.,” he said.
The biggest part of his job as a funeral director is directing and giving instructions while the funeral is underway. Benz worked at Titus Funeral Home in Warsaw for about three years with Jerry and Kathy Titus, who were second generation funeral directors, before purchasing the business. The business was started by Ned and Maryan Titus, Jerry’s parents.
Benz enjoys gardening, his garden is located at his sister and brother-in-law’s small farm. He also has chickens as well, and just started keeping bees with his brother-in-law.