Jonathan Rush interning as a funeral director

"I can see where it wouldn't be a job for everyone," said 19-year-old Jonathan Rush about starting an internship toward a Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science.

"Some of the hours would be a little hard to handle. There is a lot of little stuff you don't think about that goes into a funeral. There is printing up of different items, writing the obituaries, working with the death certificate, arranging the memorial folders and the register book ... and all of it has to be perfect," said Rush.

He is a 2007 graduate from Bowman High School in Bowman, ND, and currently a general courses student at Dickinson State University at Dickinson, ND. He has begun several months of intern work at Rush Funeral Home in Philip, SD. From the middle of May to the middle of August, he is helping with and learning the many different requirements of being a funeral director.

Johathan inquired of Jack Rush, who happens to be his uncle, if such career investigation and on-the-job training could be possible. Jack Rush of Philip was recently honored by the South Dakota Funeral Directors Association for his 40 years of continuous service to the funeral profession. Funeral Directors Jack and D.J. Rush were in need of extra help during this summer, so an arrangement was made.

"I thought that I would be interested," said Jonathan. "It must be that Jack and D.J. are in the profession that gave me the original idea." Also, Jonathan's father is a Methodist minister and his mother does "quite of bit" of volunteer hospice work. "My parents are glad that I'm doing this; trying it out at least," said Jonathan. "I like people work and just helping people out."

Three months will be his longest consecutive stay away from home. Before this, the main summer job that he has held is doing a gamut of duties at a grocery store.

"The best part about this job is helping people," said Jonathan. "Maybe the hardest part is getting up in the middle of the night. It's a little different being on call all the time. Working with the embalmings and such doesn't bother me."

If he continues in this field, these three months will count toward a required full year of internship. He has assisted with at least 10 funerals so far. Eventually he will have to completely perform, under strict supervision, five funerals from first taking the hospital call that someone has passed away, through meeting with the family, gathering information, creating the obituary and making all the arrangements. During an entire internship, he must assist with no less than 25 embalmings.

D.J, who fulfilled his own internship in Brookings during the summers of 1997-98-99 and 2000, said, "Jonathan has really helped out this summer. He's able to do a lot of the office and computer work. At the same time, he is learning to work with the deceased and with their families. He is learning pre-arrangements, creating videos for local funerals and other needs, cemetery work and all the aspects of monuments and markers."

Jonathan said, "There are not a whole lot of surprises, I guess. I didn't really know what to expect in the first place. I'm used to this kind of small town. Your Fourth of July fireworks are pretty impressive and Philip having a theater is really nice. I like to walk and jog and I do a little bit of intermural basketball and football. A few months before I came here, I got interested in frisbee golf; I guess I'll be a little rusty when I get back to college."

"I guess that I've been around the general idea of this all of my life, with my dad being a pastor. I've always gone to church every week; I still always do. A good friend, who is my resident assistant at college, also works at a funeral home. I once went to the airport to help him pick up a body there," said Jonathan. "Recently I thought that being a funeral director would be an interesting career."