Our certified celebrants help create and present a funeral, memorial, or celebration of life
that is unique and personalized. Many families today do not belong to a church or have a minister. Many of these families choose to have a celebration of life service instead of or alongside a traditional sermon. Our celebrants are trained to provide this important service. Our celebrants honor the wishes of the family to deliver either a religious or non-religious service. Families can design a memorial tribute just the way they want.
Manager of Community Relations
Julie Freese is one of five staff celebrants at Cedar Memorial. For those families who are more spiritual than religious, Julie helps create a personalized service that focuses on the individual’s life and legacy.
After meeting with family and friends, Julie writes a service that truly reflects the way their loved one lived - tying together memories shared by the family with appropriate poems, readings, and music. Following one of Julie’s celebrant services, attendees are surprised that Julie never personally knew the person memorialized that day. Julie received her BA in English from the University of Iowa and her certification as a celebrant through the Insight Institute. Julie is originally from Iowa City. She and her husband Jeremy, along with sons Tristan and Griffin, and their menagerie of pets live in Cedar Rapids. Julie spends much of her spare time cheering for her boys at their sporting events, exploring the back roads of Iowa and advocating for a better understanding of the American Pit Bull and Staffordshire terrier breeds, and eliminating breed-specific bans.
As a Certified Celebrant, Jim Parton meets with families to plan very personalized services, incorporating stories shared by the family, favorite readings or poems, meaningful thoughts and music to create a one of a kind experience.
Jim’s peaceful demeanor immediately puts families at ease, and his creative skills bring fresh ideas to each of the services he prepares. Jim has a Bachelors degree in Agricultural Science, and holds a California Lifetime Teaching Credential. He has completed several floral certifications, and became a Certified Celebrant through the Insight Institute in 2013. Jim stays involved in the community by supporting local events, political causes and charity events. He is married to his longtime partner and friend, Richard Smith. They have three grown children who live on the West Coast. They love gardening, traveling and exploring Iowa’s beautiful nature and spending time with their dogs and cats at their restored Victorian home.
GriefCare and Community Outreach Specialist
Jim’s ability to connect with grieving families and speak from the heart are keys to why families love him both as a Certified Celebrant and in his role of GriefCare specialist.
As a GriefCare Specialist for Cedar Memorial, Jim focuses on traumatic intervention, staff training and development, and community awareness. Jim has over 30 years of experience walking beside those who have experienced a traumatic loss at the international, national, state, and local level. He and his wife, Lisa are the parents of five children, and Jim enjoys spending as much time as possible them and their two dogs.