History & Staff

At McDermott-Crockett & Associates Mortuary, we provide personalized service options that allow you to honor your loved ones in a way that is both meaningful and healing. We hope to provide support and caring while delivering memorial services that celebrate life and help families find the peace they deserve.
If you’re seeking an honorable celebration of life in Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas, we invite you to learn more about where we came from, our vision, and the dedicated people behind our work.

A History of Caring

A Little Bit of History…

Nestled just an arm’s reach away from the corner of Santa Barbara’s busy Mission and Chapala Streets is where our beloved little white chapel has resided for the majority of the last century. However, the chapel hasn’t always been Chapala Street’s own indigenous landmark; moved twice from its originally proposed location. Once affectionately labeled, “the jewel box, the chapel has also functioned as a house of worship to various religious creeds and denominations before finally housing McDermott-Crockett Mortuary on Chapala Street. Along the way, the chapel has garnered a beautifully rich and intriguing history for itself, undoubtedly living up to another favored nickname, “The Little Church That Wouldn’t Stay Put!”

The Early Days: Creating the Chapel

When Santa Barbara’s own pioneer Trinity Episcopal Church decided to split off into a separate congregation, they sought a place that was “way out in the country”.  At the time, this location would be at the northeast corner of Micheltorena and Anacapa Streets in downtown Santa Barbara. There, they forged a beautifully statuesque structure out of carefully selected redwood pieces shipped from the saw mills of Santa Cruz to Stearns Wharf. In true ecclesiastical fashion, the side and rear windows showcased traditional features of Gothic architecture. In fact, to do such grandly labyrinthine windows justice, the chapel was appropriately fitted with custom imported stained glass fixtures. Internally, the chapel boasts intricately carved wood-vaults, buttresses, clustered columns, a raised ambulatory, wheel windows, spires and richly carved door tympanums – a true architectural gem! However, the true charm and grace of the chapel can be seen in its lovely filigree cut ornamentation laced all along the doors, eaves, and ridgepole – a treasured hand carved signature left behind by local artisans from Santa Barbara’s past.

St. Mark’s – A Baptist Chapel

The separate congregation who fashioned the chapel for their own place of worship wanted to call their church St Mark’s. Although they now had this beautiful new building, it became evident that the parishioners had exhausted their financial capacity. As a result, the little church went on the auction block! The highest bid came from the First Baptists. Just like that, the members of the short-lived St. Mark’s parish found themselves back to the parent Trinity Episcopal. The Baptists, however, used the chapel as a place of worship until they outgrew the location’s modest size and decided to relocate to a larger building in 1910.

The Little Church is on the Move!

The new owners of the chapel were the Seventh Day Adventists who jacked up the building and mounted it on rollers (hitched up by several teams of horses!) and hauled the church three blocks south to its new location on the southwestern corner of De La Vina and Anapamu where it was mounted on new foundations. The steeple was removed to avoid utility wires on the cross-town haul and was never replaced, leaving a truncated belfry in its wake. The original stained-glass was also replaced to battle what a member of the congregation called, “dark religious light.” Although the original glass was stored under the building, it was eventually reduced to shards and never recovered. Located across the street from the chapel’s new location stood a sandstone high school building. Unfortunately, like most of the buildings in the city, it was destroyed in the devastating earthquake of June 29, 1925. However, due to its ingenious engineering advantages, the only repair that the chapel needed was a twist or two of its giant structural turnbuckles. At this point, the chapel became known as the oldest existing Protestant edifice in Santa Barbara, second in age only to the famed old Mission.

The Chapel Goes to the Movies! – well, sort of.

When the Adventists needed a larger lot, they traded for one at 2020 Chapala Street – the site of the old Flying A Movie Studios! Again it was time for the little chapel to make another move – this time though, horses were not involved! Instead, a big Mack truck hauled it one block east and nine blocks north to a new location above the intersection of Santa Barbara’s very own Mission and Chapala Streets. In 1964, the Adventists moved to a larger facility and the Central Church of Christ became the chapel’s newest inhabitants!

From Spiritual to Secular

After a century of religious use, the chapel was purchased by Donald L. and Eileen S. McFarland, industrial engineers whose work emphasized design and development. They moved out on October 10, 1983, when the church was then purchased by Richard and Patricia Levee, two founders of California Time-Sharing. Although the two decided on extensive renovation on the interior of the building, they appreciated the chapel’s Victorian legacy by preserving much of its exterior architecture as it was intended to look over a century ago.

McDermott-Crockett Moves In!

Since 2010, McDermott-Crockett Mortuary has been delighted to be able to call this beautiful building home. With offices located conveniently in the back and the beautiful chapel functioning as the business’s storefront, not a day goes by when we don’t find ourselves overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of the chapel’s idiosyncrasies. The regally preserved arches in the main hall frame a breathtaking display of light which pours through the stained-glass windows in the afternoon, filling the entire chapel with a deluge of warm and peaceful rose-colored light. The place truly glows when touched by the sun. 

History of McDermott-Crockett Mortuary

The history of McDermott Crockett Mortuary is about family. It begins in 1905 in Chicago, when Charles Stephen McDermott married Hanora O'Leary. Charles and Hanora moved to Santa Barbara where he joined the firm of Emigh & Son at State and Haley in 1906. While the chapel was busy making a name for itself in the community, McDermott-Crockett Mortuary was doing the same! On April 12, 1906, Mr. Emigh sold his undertaking business of Emigh & Sons to Charles McDermott.

Charles and Hanora were well loved and respected members of Santa Barbara and there was a city-wide outpouring of grief when they both passed away within hours of each other during the outbreak of the Spanish Flu in Santa Barbara in 1921. The McDermott's business was taken over by Charles' assistant, Benjamin B. Schock, and in April 1922 sold to John Rembs of Marshfield, Wisconsin for $35,000, who kept Mr. Schock as manager. Within a year, Martin H. Clune became the director, keeping Mr. Schock as well. Mrs. Clune was director in 1927, and Eppel and Kurtz took over the business in 1928.

Thomas McDermott, the oldest son of Charles and Hanora McDermott, dreamed of one day reopening his family's business in Santa Barbara, and 1938, his dream was realized when he opened McDermott Funeral Home. His sister Frances McDermott Cooley joined the business in the 1960s, and for a time their brother Maurice was a funeral director as well. Thomas' wife, Louise Jackson McDermott Voorhees, taught piano and organ right next door to the mortuary and often played organ for rosaries and services, truly making McDermott Mortuary a family business once again.

In 1967 that McDermott finally got its Crockett! Richard Crockett valued the simplicity and stability of time-honored tradition. Even at this time, the little mortuary consistently strived to contribute time and resources back to the community. Their philanthropic efforts set the stage for the development of future programs to delicately address the needs of Santa Barbara’s grieving and bereaved. We handle infant and fetal losses at no-cost to the families, specially accommodate and modify services and goods for low-income families and participate in educationally-mandated programs for the local schools. 

In 1969, after a swift illness, Thomas, a native son of Santa Barbara, passed away and Richard took over the helm. Up until his retirement in 2005, Richard Crockett kept the mortuary’s goals alive. For years he fought to create programs to benefit the public while simultaneously eliminating the taboos centered on death and dying. In 2010, Richard Crockett passed the reins over to his longtime protégé, Jennifer Parks. 

Jennifer, like Richard, holds a strong belief in the importance of tradition. Jennifer has made it her mission to fight for the same dreams our founders had. Through continued support for valued organizations like Life Chronicles, Hospice of Santa Barbara, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and countless others like them, the mortuary is nothing but excited and hopeful to continue prospering in such a blessed and tight-knit community.

Our Staff’s Dedication to Respectful Care

A funeral, or memorial service, should provide family members and loved ones with the chance to reflect, remember, and celebrate a life well-lived. At McDermott-Crockett, our goal is to create exceptional services and experiences that fulfill the wishes of your loved one. Our experienced Funeral Directors provide guidance on the crucial first steps toward healing.

Jennifer Parks
General Manager / Funeral Arrangement Counselor / Certified Funeral Celebrant

Jennifer Parks started her career at the early age of 17, when she began working in women’s health care. With many talented, brilliant female physicians and nurse practitioners as her mentors she developed her skills as a Doula, assisting women in childbirth. Moving to San Francisco in 1992, she further developed her skills with Dr. Ricki Pollycove, who was instrumental in guiding her to pursue her love for deep spiritual connections and honoring ancient traditions. 

Moving to Santa Barbara in 2002, Jennifer found an unlikely home at McDermott- Crockett Mortuary. Under the tutelage of Richard Crockett, Jennifer learned all facets of mortuary management and funeral arrangements becoming General Manager upon his retirement in 2010. From working with families at the beginning of a life, to assisting families at the end she was drawn to the importance of honoring each person’s unique love story… for those passing and for those left behind. Jennifer’s compassion and ability to help those in pain during transition makes the funeral profession truly her calling. Jennifer lives in Santa Barbara, with her husband Todd and their three children, Jesse, Jake and Julia. 

In 2016, Jennifer completed Certified Funeral Celebrant Training and now offers this service to families that find they need someone to weave their story into a memorial or funeral service. 

“There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love...

Jennifer can be reached at the office by phone at (805) 569-2424 or via email: jennifer@mcdermottcrockett.com

Israel Velazquez
Funeral Arrangement Counselor

Israel has been an integral member of our family of funeral professionals since 2005, coming from a background in healthcare he quickly demonstrated that caring for families was his calling. Proving himself a quick study and an invaluable asset to the mortuary he assists families in creating meaningful celebrations of their loved one with the utmost respect and dignity. Israel speaks fluent Spanish and English having grown up in Mexico City, Mexico. In his off time, Israel enjoys playing soccer and spending time with his family. 

Israel can be reached at the office by phone at (805) 569-2424 or via email: ivelazquez@mcdermottcrockett.com

In Memoriam

William Guntle

With thankful hearts, we remember one of our own, who passed away on July 9, 2015 after a brief but courageous battle with cancer. During his career that spanned 35 years, Bill’s dedication to the families of our community was unparalleled, having helped countless grieving families honor their loved ones with dignity and meaning. Not only was he the consummate funeral director, he was also an incredibly talented, gifted and artistic embalmer. His talented hands and soft heart provided families with beautiful and lasting memories of their loved ones. Bill is survived by an enormous family of friends that will be forever in his debt for the gifts of his time and talents passed on to each of us. The present and former staff at McDermott-Crockett Mortuary will miss him always, but will honor him by continuing his legacy of excellence in funeral service and commitment to our community.