Celebrating the Women of Hilgenfeld Mortuary
As March is Women’s History Month now is a perfect time to celebrate the women who have been at the helm of Hilgenfeld Mortuary for the past several decades. In 1987, Margie Hilgenfeld Field took over as president following in the footsteps of her father Melvin. Margie had been involved in the business since 1971 when she started as an administrative assistant prior to becoming the third generation of the family to lead the mortuary’s operations.
Her daughter Becky, who was to become the fourth-generation president in 2015 upon Margie’s passing, was at her side to assist in running the business as of 1980 when she joined the firm as accounting manager.
In the early days of Margie’s leadership, the funeral and memorial service industry was very male dominated. There were no other women owners in the Orange County Funeral Directors Association (OCFDA) at that time. That did not stop Margie as she became increasingly involved in the local association and the broader industry. By the early 1990s she was elected as the OCFDA’s first woman president after serving in several capacities on the board. Becky followed in her mother’s footsteps serving as Board president as well.
Working within what once could have been described as an old boy’s network, both Margie and Becky have earned the respect of their peers due to their knowledge of the industry, their work ethic and their dedication to the community and the clients they serve.
The Hilgenfeld women have played an influential role in the educational aspects of their field, serving on the Cypress College School of Mortuary Science Advisory Board for several years. And both mother and daughter received Cypress College’s Americana Citizen of the Year Awards, in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
There are still only a handful of women in the funeral service industry, though now there is a special conference at the National Funeral Directors Association specifically for women recognizing their contributions to the industry. More and more women are entering the field and taking on roles that were traditionally reserved for their male counterparts.
This progress is a result of women like Margie Hilgenfeld Field and Becky Field Areias who were able to enter a primarily male run industry and continue to successfully grow their family enterprise. Today Hilgenfeld Mortuary, under the direction of women for nearly four decades, is a highly respected business not only in the funeral services industry, but in the community as well.
Photo Caption: For more than four decades, the Hilgenfeld team has been led by women. Pictured here are current president Becky Field Areias, standing and her mother, Margie Hilgenfeld Field, seated. Gary Field, Margie’s husband and Becky’s father is also pictured.