HAWARDEN—In 2001, Megan Millage, daughter of Lisa Millage and Mark Millage, was in her senior year at West Sioux High School. Millage had recently been accepted to School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she planned on working toward becoming a photographer. Little did she know, those plans would be shattered.
West Sioux had a program called Mayterm where seniors did a job study at a local business. Millage decided to spend her time at Porter Funeral Home in Hawarden, owned and operated by Ric Porter. After her time with the Porter family, she decided to take her career path in a different direction.
Millage moved to Phoenix, AZ, in 2003 where she began working for Service Corporation International and attended Mortuary School at Mesa Community College. She started as a funeral attendant and weekend receptionist and was then transferred to a driver. After college she became an intern, then a licensed embalmer, licensed funeral director and her current role as mortuary manager, which she has been since 2014.
Looking back, Millage is grateful for the opportunity her high school and the Porter family gave to her. She was able to shadow Ric Porter in every aspect of the business and learned the ins and outs of what a funeral director does.
In 2012, when Millage was a funeral director at Greenwood Memory Lawn, her manager told her she needed to take pizza to a local Phoenix Fire Station — Millage was not thrilled at the idea but she really didn’t have a choice — she went and this is where her passion for the Phoenix Fire Department began.
“The guys working on shift that day could not have been more welcoming” she said. “I felt right at home, like I had known them for years.”
In 2013, there was a line of duty death for Phoenix Fire Department; Millage was the funeral director for the young man who was killed. This is where she met the vice president of member services for the Union, Captain Ray Maione. Ray and Millage worked close to make sure the firefighter was honored the way he deserved. Since 2013, Millage has assisted the Phoenix Fire Department more than 300 times.
“Every funeral director wants repeat families; that is how you know you did the best job you could — my repeat family is the Phoenix Fire Department,” Millage said.
On June 6, Millage reached a pinnacle in her career when she was awarded the 2019 Funeral Director of the Year Award for the state of Arizona. There are 459 licensed funeral directors in Arizona.
“This is an incredible honor and it means so much that not only my mentor, Amie Gazda, presented the award to me but PFD came to show support as well,” Millage said.
Millage works at Shadow Mountain Mortuary in Phoenix, AZ.
Her plans are to continue to serve families in the Valley as well as the Phoenix Fire Department. She remains grateful to the Porters for having given her the opportunity to discover this passion within her. It is her hope that more seniors will take the time to go out and learn of all the possibilities out there and embrace in the opportunities West Sioux High School has to offer.