#25: Funeral Director Ashley Cozine

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

For most people, attending a funeral falls somewhere between ‘pretty grim’ and ‘completely gut wrenching.’

So I got to wondering: what is it like to attend funerals almost every single day? What is it like to have death at the very center of your life’s work? Who would make such a choice, and how on earth do they keep themselves from getting depressed?

Funeral Director Ashley Cozine of Cozine Memorial Group in Wichita, Kansas tackled all of these questions and more. He struck me as cheerful, genuine, and motivated above all else by a desire to be of service to people in pain. I came away from this interview convinced that I could never be a funeral director myself—but I also came away feeling very grateful that there are such people standing by to guide us when we need them.

About Ashley Cozine: Ashley was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. He is a third generation funeral director and has worked in his family’s funeral home since he was in high school. He received a B.A. from the University of Kansas, a diploma in social studies and political theory from Oxford University in England, and an M.B.A. from Friends University. He is a past president of the Kansas Funeral Director’s Association and currently serves on the Executive Board of the National Funeral Director’s Association. In addition, he has served as a volunteer group facilitator for Three Trees, a center for grieving children and their families.



#24: Memoir Writer Carolyn Nash

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

This episode features an interview with Carolyn Nash, the author of a newly published memoir called Raising Abel

In Work Stew’s young life, I’ve profiled quite a few writers: an investigative reporter, a screenwriter, a speechwriter, and a writer of short stories. (I’ll admit to a weakness for people who work with words.)

What intrigues me about memoir writers in particular is the lack of separation between their life and their work. Most of us distinguish between our professional selves and our personal selves, but for the writer of a published memoir, life is work and work is life.

About Carolyn Nash: Carolyn Nash (not her real name) is a California-based writer. As a single 37-year-old, Carolyn adopted Abel, a three-year-old who came to her as a foster child having endured horrific abuse at the hands of his biological parents. Raising Abel is the story of the extraordinary path Carolyn and her son have travelled together over the last 18 years.

#23: Nancy Gohring, Co-founder of City Fruit

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

For the most part, I interview people about the work they do to make a living. After all, it is that challenge—how to find work that feels meaningful and pays the bills—that preoccupies so many of us. But occasionally I also talk to people about the work they do for fun. Nancy Gohring, for example, picks fruit.

Nancy is the co-founder of City Fruit, a non-profit that coordinates the harvest of thousands of pounds of fruit every year from Seattle backyards. A small portion of the fruit is sold to neighborhood restaurants to help offset the organization’s operating costs, but most of the haul is donated to local soup kitchens and food banks.

Some jobs are hard to understand and difficult to justify, but the rationale for backyard harvesting can be grasped in an instant. That’s why I wanted to speak to Nancy: I wanted to know how she found her way, in this same crazy world that the rest of us inhabit, to such eminently sensible work.

About Nancy Gohring: When she’s not picking fruit, Nancy Gohring works as the Seattle correspondent for IDG, a news service dedicated to technology coverage. Nancy’s reporting has been featured in The New York TimesThe Seattle TimesWiredThe Dallas Morning News, and other media outlets. Nancy began working with City Fruit in 2008, when Gail Savina (the organization’s current Executive Director) assembled a group of like-minded people interested in developing a new approach to fruit tree harvesting.