Funeral director finds outlet in dove releasing
Dave Truskowsky, of Mahanoy City, Pa., was born into a family of funeral directors. Both his father and grandfather were funeral directors, and when it came time for Truskowsky to decide if he wanted to take over the family business, the decision came rather easily.
Truskowsky enlisted in the Army straight out of high school and became an aviation machinist. He learned how to fly a plane in high school and continues to fly his plane as a hobby. He also went to college at Penn State University and later went to the Simmons Institute of Mortuary Science. He now owns the same funeral home that his father and grandfather owned before him.
Truskowsky recalls the first time he saw his father working in his prep room.
Truskowsky had been learning about anatomy in one of his high school classes, which gave him the opportunity to dissect a cat. One afternoon, Truskowsky had a question for his father, so he knocked on the door of his father’s prep room. His father warned him, “You can come in, but let me warn you, I have a guy's head wide open.” Truskowsky walked in hesitantly. Instantly Truskowsky thought of the cat and started seeing the different parts of the brain that he learned about in school.
“I wasn't really grossed out, I was more intrigued because I'm actually seeing the things that I can only see in text books,” said Truskowsky. From that moment on, he wasn’t really bothered by blood. He says he just thought of the science aspect of it.
Truskowsky is also Deputy Coroner of the Schuylkill County Coroner’s Office. He often does mock accident scenes for high school students with the local police and firefighter departments. Truskowsky does this to inform high school students of the dangers of drinking or texting while driving.
“One thing that I try to get across to the students is that this,” he pulls out his cell phone, “is as deadly as getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.”
“I like to help people,” said Truskowsky. And that’s one thing he can do in a multitude of ways.
Not only does Truskowsky help out at the school, either with mock accident scenes or by flying his plane above the football field so that a teacher can snap a shot of the student body forming the words “No Bullying”, he also offers a service that helps the families he provides his services for grieve.
A few years ago, Truskowsky attended a funeral for his “Pittsburgh” grandmother.
“I wasn’t very close to her,” said Truskowsky. “She was always my Pittsburgh grandmother, so I didn’t really tear up at all at the service. But when they did the white dove release at the funeral, I let loose... I started to cry.”
Truskowsky was amazed at how seeing the white doves fly into the sky made him cry.
“I’m like man, if this is an outlet for me, a funeral director, can you imagine what this can do for other people,” said Truskowsky. Shortly after, he talked with a friend who has a pigeon coop in his back yard. Truskowsky asked if they could start housing white pigeons and his friend agreed.
“Many people don’t know that doves are just white pigeons,” said Truskowsky.
The dove idea took off, and now Truskowsky owns his own dove-releasing company called Doves of White. He releases a dove at every funeral he does as a gift to his families, and he also provides his services for other funeral homes in the area.
“I don’t do weddings,” Truskowsky said.
After the dove is released into the air, it flies back to the coop to be used for another day, says Truskowsky.
“They teach us in mortuary school that the best way to grieve for somebody is to cry,” said Truskowsky, “It’s like if you’re sick. You really don’t want to throw up, but when you do, you feel like a million bucks, at least for a little bit. And the same thing goes for grief. If people can let loose and get a good cry in, it’s very important.”
A look into the prep room
Dave Truskowsky talks about the first time he saw his dad at work in the prep room. The prep room is located in the basement of Truskowsky's home, on the same floor as the funeral home. Truskowsky doesn't seem to mind living on the second floor of the same building where he does his work.