“STEPPING UP TO SERVE”: IS A MISSISIPPI-BASED INITIATIVE TO SHOWCASE PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITY WHO ARE GOING THE EXTRA MILE TO GIVE BACK. THIS SEGMENT IS MADE POSSIBLE BY:
“Stepping Up to Serve” – Picayune Man Donating Custom Caskets to LEO’s Killed In The Line of Duty
When it comes to buying a casket most people don’t think about it until a loved one has passed, but wouldn’t you want a say in your final resting place? Wouldn’t you want it to be embellished with things you love like pictures, badges, emblems, and decorations?
A man from Picayune has made that possible for everyone, especially first responders, by building custom caskets for his community.
Kyle Jeansonne is the owner of RiverBanks Engraving, a well-known establishment in Picayune that specializes in engraving, personalized gifts, custom hats, and other items.
In his spare time, Kyle and his business partner Mark Holifield build custom caskets.
You may wonder how someone goes from custom hats to custom caskets.
The story is (as told by Kyle): Mark is a carpenter by trade. One day Mark and his brother were driving down the road and his brother looked at Mark and said, “Hey, let’s build each other a casket”, partially joking. Mark laughed and replied with, “Why would I let you build me a casket? It’s going to be crooked!”
Mark’s brother wanted him to build the casket because his brother knew it would be perfect if Mark was the one who built it.
Tragically, shortly after that conversation, Mark’s brother unexpectedly passed away.
Mark had a promise to keep. He drove to the lumber yard, locked himself in his wood shop, and built his brother a beautiful casket with deer-horn handles.
When the casket was complete, before he could let it go to its final resting place, Mark unscrewed one of the handles and screwed it back on crooked. If his was supposed to be crooked, so was his brother’s.
Mark built 17 caskets after that for friends and family free of charge.
“Everybody wants one of course, but they don’t know they need it until it’s too late,” said Kyle.
Now, the duo have started a branch of RiverBanks Engraving called RiverBanks Monument Company where they sell and provide custom caskets and monuments for the community.
“When you’re building these things, it’s a story,” Kyle said. “We go through their life and their pictures. We hear all the stories about these people. You’re laughing and you’re crying, and you spend a lot of time with [the family]”
After building a casket for fallen Lt. Officer Michael Boutte last year with his name and badge engraved into the side, Kyle realized he could really make a difference.
Kyle and Mark are now donating their casket-building services free-of-charge to any officer killed in the line of duty.
“We get blessed every day, literally. What goes around comes around. I believe in pay it forward. I believe in all of that. I believe in karma,” said Kyle.
Kyle and his team don’t take the task lightly.
“My wife, she cries with [the family],” said Kyle.
“It’s a tough, heartfelt business but I can tell you the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my life is when you work three days, don’t sleep, and you drop off that casket – the family is so appreciative. You’ve done something that matters. Something that people care about.”
Mark goes to every service that they make a casket for, whether he knows them or not.
The monument company also offers affordably priced custom urns with options that nobody else is offering such as the thin blue line, thin red line, badge engravings, and/or name tag engravings.
Stop by RiverBanks Engraving to meet Kyle and his crew. If you are in need of their casket services for a loved one you can reach Kyle and Mark on the RiverBanks Engraving Facebook messenger or give them a call at (601)798-4928.