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. 

McDermott-Crockett’s Origins: Before 2020 Chapala Street…

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. In fact, on April 12, 2013 McDermott-Crockett proudly celebrated its 107th birthday! How quickly the time flies! These moments remind us all just how far the mortuary has actually come! At this point, the mortuary was located on the corner of State Street and Haley Street. However, in the same tradition as the chapel, the mortuary just couldn’t sit still! In the 1930s the business moved again, this time to Pedregosa and State Street where it continued to flourish in the community. It was at this location that McDermott finally got its Crockett! Richard Crockett, a man who valued the simplicity and stability of time-honored tradition, finally jumped on board – the year was 1967. Even at this time, the little mortuary consistently and cordially strived to philanthropically contribute time and resources back to the community. It was these pioneering actions and implementations which set the stage for further development of future programs which ideally intended to delicately address and acknowledge the under-addressed needs of Santa Barbara’s grieving and bereaved. Considerations such as handling infant and fetal losses at no-cost to the families, specially accommodating and modifying services and goods for low-income families, and participating in educationally-mandated programs for the local schools became regularly practiced implementations instead of just simple and sporadic acts of charity. In fact, in 2005, the mortuary graciously donated all ledger books and mortuary death records in its possession to the local genealogical society. This included all materials garnered from 1914 to 1974, solidifying McDermott-Crockett’s longtime duty and declared social responsibility to strive to give back to the same community which afforded it the opportunity to establish itself as valued fixture of tradition, pride, and a tangible illustration of what it truly means to be an integral part of Santa Barbara’s community.

Up until his retirement in 2005, Richard Crockett kept the mortuary’s goals alive. For years he delicately and painstakingly fought to implement like-minded programs which would ultimately benefit the public while simultaneously eliminating the unhealthy socially-constructed taboos centered on death and dying. Happily in 2010, Richard Crockett passed the reigns over to the next generation of funeral professionals, passing the proverbial torch to his longtime protégé, Jennifer Parks. With so many new and exciting changes in its midst, the mortuary agreed that it was time for another change of scenery! With that, the mortuary finally found itself a home on Chapala Street, not far from where Chapala and Mission meet. At this point, with a new location, new management set, and a renewed lease on life, the mortuary was ready to get back to work! Jennifer, like Richard, holds a strong belief in the importance of tradition and the healthy efficacies that accompany these delicate observances. With the mortuary’s founding ideals in tow, in true warrior-woman fashion, Jennifer has made it her mission to fight for the same dreams our founders had hoped for – one family at a time, one person at a time, and at any time – day or night. 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 as a time-honored cornerstone 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



James Gonzales
Mortuary Staff Support and Transport

A born and raised 8th generation Santa Barbaran, James is known through-out the community of Greater Santa Barbara. Entering the real estate industry at age 22, James worked his way up through the ranks to become an operations manager for a local real estate company, and has earned many awards and acknowledgments from the business community at large. He has served as a Director on the Board of Realtors and various committees; as Ambassador Chair for two consecutive terms on the Santa Barbara Regional Chamber of Commerce Board, and as a parade director with the Spirit of 76’ 4th of July Parade Committee. Plus participating in other local, State and National trade/service oriented organizations. 

What doe’s James like to do with his free time? His main passion is the construction and building of life-sized costumed characters from the film and comic book universe, and building scale replica models. James is currently working on two Non-Profit projects involving the construction of scale models depicting the Old Mission, and another historical item significant to the Santa Barbara community. Steeped in local history, James enjoys hiking and running the many old and historic trails that wind above town. “I enjoy serving our community, and being part of the fabric here at McDermott-Crockett allows me to help my fellow citizens, friends and family at their time of need. Not one life lived is the same, and I believe it’s important that we memorialize each and every soul as the unique individual they are." 

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



Anthony Gil
Mortuary Transport

Tony has been a part of our family of funeral professionals for over 13 years. With capable care and compassion Tony is available anytime day or night with a moments notice to come at the time of need and transfer your loved one into our care. When Tony is not working he enjoys playing music and spending time at the house he helped build in Costa Rica.



Kathy Ackley
Funeral Arrangement Counselor / Certified Funeral Celebrant

Kathy Ackley is a Certified Funeral Celebrant who also has an extensive background in hospitality and event production. She previously served as the Director of Catering for the Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara for 17 years, where she arranged a wide variety of events, including intimate gatherings, large-scale week-long conventions, funeral services, and celebrations of life of all sizes. Kathy has also worked at the Princeville Resort in Hawaii and other fine resorts and hotels throughout the United States.



Jenna Mendenhall
Administrator

Jenna started her career in the beauty and spa industry, earning hands on experience making people look and feel their best as an esthetician for many years, eventually trying her hand at salon management before she decided to make a change to the funeral home industry. 

She wanted to use her time and effort to pour her love and compassion out to people when they truly need it most. "This industry makes me feel so integral and brings me close to the most incredible people, most of whom I would never meet in my previous career. Every day I get to listen to life stories full of passion, adventure and heart. That's what makes my time here worthwhile." 

When she's not in the office, Jenna can be found at Disneyland, searching for dole whips or churros. 

Jenna can be reached at the office (805)569-2424 or by email at jenna.mendenhall@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.