By STEPHANIE MLOT
The Frederick News-Post
THURMONT, Md. (AP) — Death doesn’t scare Bill Buehrer. Since his teenage years, he has been in the business of eternal rest.
Making 60 cents a day as a drugstore soda jerk in the early 1960s, the then-16-year-old Buehrer watched as employees of the neighborhood family-owned funeral home drove high-end cars and wore slick suits every day.
He knew a life of delivering prescriptions and cleaning the store wasn’t enough for him; he wanted to get into funeral
Every Friday for weeks, Buehrer asked the business owner to give him a job, even washing cars or cutting the grass — wherever he could be of use.
Once the owner finally gave in, Buehrer stepped into the funeral services business and has never looked back.
Now, the 66-year-old manages pre-planning and aftercare services at Frederick County’s six Stauffer Funeral Home locations and loves every second of it.
“I meet people from all walks of life,” Buehrer said. “People who have done different things.”
They include former White House press secretary James Brady’s secretary, a woman who was on the ship that assisted survivors of the Titanic and the man who invented the pacemaker.
Sitting in a room with various urns and cremation jewelry on display, Buehrer said he has a passion for funeral services, a career he called “very rewarding,” but one that can also challenge his faith.
A grandfather of 12, Buehrer said the service arrangement he and his staff members must provide for young children has a heavy effect on him.
Most of the people he deals with on a regular basis are healthy, vibrant customers who know this is proper planning, Buehrer said.
“Death is a given event that’s going to take place,” he tells his clients.
While he never left the world of funeral services, Buehrer took a couple of leaves of absence from the pre-arranging business to work in marketing, teaching other funeral directors how to better sell their brands.
Buehrer moved to Frederick County nine years ago from South Carolina, where he still vacations and visits friends, including Lou Holtz, the retired University of South Carolina football coach.
For the past five years, the Thurmont resident has been actively involved in town activities and organizations; as the Senior Commission chairman, Buehrer helped move the current Thurmont Senior Center construction forward.
Now he can add another title to his growing list: Thurmont town commissioner. In a landslide vote last week, he was elected to a position on the town board.
Admitting he is a novice at the legislative part of running a town, Buehrer plans to bring his marketing experience to his new job, helping to build communication with constituents.
His first town meeting as a sworn commissioner will be in November. In the meantime, Buehrer is studying up on town policies and regulations in preparation for his debut.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)