Agueras retire from mortuary business, pass the reins
January 22, 2004
After 37 years of helping Truckee folks make arrangements for their loved ones’ funeral services, Joe and Clare Aguera will finally get to rest in peace.
No, not in that sense. The Agueras, the owners of the Truckee Tahoe Mortuary who have helped so many people through difficult times, have decided to sell the business they took over in 1968 and embrace their new “semi-retired” status, as Joe likes to call it.
“You say ’37 years’ and you go, ‘What ever happened to 37 years?'” Joe said. “I know I worked through it, and it seems like it went kind of fast now.”
Although they’ve enjoyed their time at the mortuary, the Agueras acknowledge that it’s time they step down and allow someone else to take over the business they’ve run for almost four decades – a business that, while it’s seen a fair share of ups and downs like all local businesses, has grown steadily along with the town of Truckee itself.
Like many Truckee residents, the Agueras first came to Truckee as visitors. Joe was already in the mortuary business before coming to town, and it just so happened that on the day he and Clare were visiting Clare’s brother in town, the funeral director at the mortuary was making a hasty retreat out of town for unknown reasons, leaving Truckee without a funeral home.
The Agueras were living in San Fernando at the time, but shortly after their visit to Truckee, Joe called around to inquire about purchasing the Truckee mortuary, and in February of 1968 the couple moved to town – into the apartment above the mortuary.
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Throughout the next 37 years the couple raised three kids in Truckee – Joe, Teri and Steve – and did their best to provide the community with a full service funeral home.
“When I first came up here I kind of figured that, coming from a fairly large town to a small community like this, I guess I’d just have to keep my nose clean and my shoes shined,” Joe said.
The Agueras had no trouble fitting in to the local community and were soon growing their business as Truckee became a more populous town and a popular tourist destination.
“I don’t have any bad memories,” Clare said. “I’ve always felt like we’ve had good results with everything we’ve done. Everybody’s always been grateful and I’ve always felt positive about dealing with everybody.
“We’ve made a lot of good friends dealing with the families (in town),” she added.
Many of those friends will undoubtedly be sorry to see the Agueras go from the mortuary.
According to Joe, “People still call me and say ‘You can’t quit! I haven’t died yet, you have to take care of me first.'”
And taking care of the people and families whom they have served over the years was always the most important part of their business.
“The thing is with Truckee, you’re not a number…” Joe said with Clare finishing his sentence, “you’re a person. And you find that in everything you do here in this town… And that’s how we’ve always felt about everybody we’ve dealt with too.”
With their new semi-retired status, Joe hopes to be able to start and/or finish a number of projects that he has been putting off for the last 37 years, and Clare hopes they will be able to finally take a vacation together now that they won’t have to leave someone behind to take care of the mortuary.
They are happy to be able to leave the business in the hands of a capable young couple, Joe and Katrina Murray, who are coming to Truckee from the Sacramento area at the same age as Joe and Clare Aguera were when they moved here in 1968.
“For seven years we’ve had a lot of people coming and knocking on the door wanting to know if we wanted to sell or not,” Joe Aguera said. “But he knows the business, he knows what to do. And I’m still here to help him if he needs help,” he added, speaking of Murray.
Murray is happy that the Agueras are planning to stay in town and make themselves available in case he has any questions. “It’s one thing knowing the business, it’s another knowing the community. Things are totally different up here than in Sacramento,” he said.
And fortunately for the Murrays and for Truckee, the Agueras plan to be around for the rest of their lives, offering the kind of advice that makes good sense in any situation:
“What you have to do in this business is you have to treat people the way you’d want to be treated if anything happens in your family,” Joe Aguera said.