Des Plaines Funeral Home Director Graham Hills has had a long standing policy for the 25 years his company has been in operation.
Now, he’s doing much, much more.
“We never charge for funeral services for kids,” said Hills this week. “It all depends on the means of the family, etc.
Sticking with that philosophy, Hills is not charging for any expenses to handle funeral arrangements for the four young children and their mother who died in a tragic fire in Des Plaines on Wednesday, Jan. 27 in their home on the 700 block of Oakton St. His services include transport of the five bodies for this Wednesday’s, Feb. 10 service at the Our Lady of Guadalupe gymnasium at Maryville Academy. The service begins at 10 a. m. and space inside will be limited to 250 people. In addition, Hills is paying for five caskets, which will be all white in color for the children. A phone call by Hills to Chris Pesche, owner of Pesche’s Flowers in Des Plaines got an immediate positive response for the flowers that will be displayed at the funeral at no cost to the family. Assistance will also be provided by Northlake and Drechsler & Brown & Williams Funeral Homes, whom Hills contacted. All Saints Cemetery is providing burial plots and all related services, also at no charge and with the blessing of Catholic Charities. All Saints in Des Plaines is located just a short distance from Maryville.
It’s possible that Cardinal Blase Cupich will say Mass at the funeral.
Citlali Zamudio, 25, and her four daughters, Grace Espinosa, 1, Allizon Espinosa, 3, Genesis Espinosa, 5, and Renata Espinosa, 6, died in the fire. Fire and police personnel are investigating the cause of the blaze focusing in part of a space heater. The girls’ father was working at the time.
Members of Citlali’s family began arriving at O’Hare Airport this week in preparation for the Mass and burial.
A GoFundMe page was established by friends of the family. Approximately $85,000 was raised.
“They (family members) called me and we sat down. I told them there would be no charge,” explained Hills. His friends at the other funeral homes are donating hearses and personnel.
Said Hills, “It’s been about the last two weeks waking up at 2 a.m. and making sure everything is done right. I have many friends in the funeral home business and not one of them has ever done five funerals at once let alone one including four children.”
Hills said he has handled many funeral arrangements at no charge to families. He explained that just two weeks after he opened his business in Des Plaines a local homeless man in Des Plaines named Manny died. Hills handled the funeral and all related costs.