From baskets to caskets
Rocky Mountain News
Only two things in life are certain – death and taxes – even for a professional athlete.
When former Denver Nuggets forward Calvin Natt retired from the National Basketball Association in 1990, launching a low-cost funeral home seemed like a sure bet.
The results are the 2,000 square-foot Calvin Natt Family Mortuary, 1751 York Street , set to open May 1.
I didn't graduate from college with a degree in business so I could have ended up selling cars or insurance after my pro-ball career,” said Natt, now 35 years old.
“Instead of running a mortuary, I could have opened up a liquor store or a nightclub, but that wouldn't have helped people in need. Offering affordable funeral services is just my way of staying involved in the community.”
Natt, a deacon at the New Hope Baptist Church in Denver , said he and his wife, Brenda, are using their savings to finance the remodeling of their mortuary.
Although cost estimates for new carpets, lighting fixtures, furniture and design are running as high as $20,000, Natt said, “It's worth it.”
“People want to know how I went from being a hard-nosed pro player to being a sentimental cream puff who wants to help people,” he said. “But those who know me know that I've always had a sentimental soft side to me.”
Since leaving the NBA, Natt has worked arranging funeral services for several Denver-area mortuaries.
“When I help people during funeral services, I get a different feeling inside, one of happiness and joy which is far different than the thrill of scoring 30 points in a basketball game,” he said. “It gives me a different angle on helping people.”
Natt said his “family-owned and operated mortuary will provide first-class funeral services the old-fashioned way – down to earth and with care for people's feelings.”
In order to curb the rising cost of burial expenses, Natt said he is keeping the mortuary small and inexpensive.
Bodies will be prepared for services elsewhere because “first-class doesn't have to be expensive.”
The viewing rooms will be set up to resemble a private home rather than a traditional funeral parlor, he said.
“Many people are afraid of the funeral service business because they're brainwashed into thinking it's morbid,” Natt said. “Others are scared to come into funeral homes to begin with.”
Beveled glass mirrors, crystal chandeliers, hand-painted murals and private viewing areas will create a more relaxed atmosphere where people will look at death as just another step in life, Natt said.