Following in Dad’s Footsteps: Daughters prove to be worth business partners

The bond between a ather and his daughter cannot be denied. From the time she is born, Daddy’s little girl has him wrapped around her finger. As she grows, that bond grows stronger until beore he knows it, Daddy’s girl is a grown woman with a family of her own. If he’s lucky, they will remain close, seeing each other when time allows. If he’s blessed, she will work by his side day in and day out, ollowing in his giant ootsteps. The ollowing athers and daughters have mastered the art o balancing their personal relationships with their business roles. And while all o these women are successul in their own right, they will always be Daddy’s girls.


Only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. While they can’t do anything about your taxes, Porter Loring III and his daughter, Helen Loring Dear, can make sure that you and your loved ones are treated with the utmost respect, empathy and care upon the event of a death. Porter Loring has been THE name in the funeral business since Porter Loring Sr. started the business 90 years ago. Following in his footsteps came his son and grandson, Porter Jr. and Porter III. It seemed only logical that Porter IV would ollow suit, but much to her father’s surprise, it was Helen Loring who decided to join the amily business. “I was surprised that it was my daughter rather than my son, but I was excited beyond words,” chuckles Loring. “I now see what my father saw when I first started with him.”

The funeral business might seem a bit macabre or a young girl, but 25-year-old Dear, who holds a psychology degree rom Millsaps College, saw it as a way to do what she loves to do best — help others. “My parents never pressured me to do this,” she is quick to point out. “I see this as an industry that helps people, and I’ve always been drawn to that industry.” Dear admits that when other people (her husband included) first hear what she does or a living, they are a bit shocked. But or the girl who grew up eating lunch with her ather and grandfather at the funeral home, it was the natural thing to do. “When you are sitting next to someone on a plane and they ind out what you do or a living, they either get really chatty or really quiet,” laughs Loring about people’s reaction to both his and his daughter’s career. But just because it’s her family’s business, don’t imagine or a second that Dear didn’t have to pay her dues. On the contrary, she began her career as the funeral home housekeeper at the age of 16, cleaning the pews in the chapel and getting scuff marks off benches. It wasn’t until after graduating from Millsaps that Dear enrolled in mortuary school and became a licensed funeral director and embalmer.

“I wanted to learn every part o the business so that I could answer people’s questions,” she says. Loring encouraged his daughter in her endeavor to learn, saying that he was brought up the same way. “I got in the business with my dad when I was only 7 years old,” he recalls. “I dug graves, pitched tents and mowed the lawn.”
Father and daughter work together beautiully and share many o the same personality traits that have made Porter Loring such a successul business. Both have a calm and soothing presence, and they share a strong aith that is so important when dealing with the loss o a loved one. Contrary to popular belie, the uneral business is not all gloomy. It is a business, and as with any business, there is room or creativity. Dear brings resh ideas and an enthusiasm that her ather values. Not araid o technology, she is incorporating the idea o allowing customers to view caskets on a television screen rather than overwhelming them in a casket room. She is also looking into the growing trend of “green” funerals.

“She is such a perectionist,” says Loring with pride. “She is bringing an energy to this organization that will spring it orward or the next 50 years.”


Dan Dement was surrounded by girls — three daughters and a wie, to be exact. But since his business was jewelry, oldest daughter DeAnna Bowling had no problem jumping right in. “She is the queen o bling,” he jokes. Dement worked in the wholesale diamond business while his daughters were growing up, and Bowling recalls being ascinated by the gems he brought home. “I used to love to sit and play in his wholesale stu,” she says wistully. “The big diamonds were always un.” Given her “queen o bling” status, it was no surprise that Bowling married a man who ran several jewelry stores in Corpus Christi, and beore long, the two generations joined orces to create Stone Oak Jewelry. Opening one o the irst retail shops in the now popular Stone Oak shopping center was an expensive gamble, and neither amily was certain o what the uture would bring. In the beginning Bowling and her husband moved in with her parents until they got the business o the ground. “We had the upstairs, and they had the downstairs,” she says. They didn’t have to wait too long. Business soon got to the point where Bowling, a stay-at-home mother o two, began helping out at the store on a part time basis. Soon the ather-daughter team realized that although they seemed to have vastly dierent personalities, each brought a valuable skill to the business. According to Bowling, her ather is more o the analytical type, while the design process is where she inds her greatest satisfaction. “I love dealing with the customers and playing or hours to create the perect design,” she says with enthusiasm. “My avorite moment is when we give a completed design to a customer and see the reaction.”

“Some o our best designs are the ones she has come up with,” boasts Dement. “She connects with the younger generation.” Stone Oak Jewelry is one o only about a dozen retailers in the country that can take a piece o jewelry rom concept to design to inished product. Through advanced computer technology, they are able to create an exact rendering o the design with unparalleled accuracy. “It’s not a question o can we do it, it’s a question o what do you want,” explains Bowling, who adds that they can go rom start to inish in one week. “That’s a really big deal in our industry,” she boasts. More along the lines o a jewelry manuacturer that just happens to sell retail rather than a retail establishment that happens to make jewelry, Stone Oak Jewelry takes great pride in the way the business has grown through love and mutual respect. Nine years later, the two amilies live next door to one another and have dinner together often. “I wouldn’t trade this or the world,” says Dement, who plans to sell his portion o the business to his daughter and son-in-law when the time is right. “I get to see my grandchildren every day, and we are all pulling or the same thing. We may have our words sometimes, but it all comes out in the wash.”

Adds Bowling, “We kiss and make up quickly.”


The ather o ive daughters, car mogul Ernesto Ancira had a pretty good idea that his auto dynasty wouldn’t be taken over by a son. But while he might not have been surprised when daughter April wanted to join the business, it shocked the heck out o her! “I started working here part-time when I was 16,” smiles the pretty blonde, who bears more than a passing resemblance to her ather. “It was just extra cash or the summer. I didn’t plan on staying in it.” But stay in she did, working her way up rom answering phones to iling to her current position as vice president o operations or the Ancira dealerships along the I-10 corridor. “When I graduated rom Trinity, I had plans to go to New York, but 9/11 changed that,” she explains. “I ended up going to graduate school and selling cars, and I ell in love with the people aspect o it.” Her ather, sensing that she was serious about her career, sent his next-to-youngest daughter to the National Automotive Dealer Association’s dealer school, where she enrolled in the successor program. Not only did she learn what it takes to one day run her ather’s dealerships, he met her husband!

“We stole him away rom his amily’s dealerships in Baltimore,” she laughs, adding that he is now a valued member o the Ancira amily business. Although Ancira is the irst to admit that being the boss’s daughter “doesn’t hurt,” it can also be a hurdle that must be overcome. Like Dear, Ancira also had to prove that she was hired based on more than her last name — and it was her ather who helped her with that challenge. “You cannot treat your child any dierently than the other employees,” he cautions. “It demoralizes the rest o the team and takes away the child’s ability to succeed because they lose respect with the other team members. April proved hersel rom within and did an incredible job,” he adds with fatherly pride. or the younger Ancira, an even greater challenge was overcoming the age prejudice. “ity-year-old men don’t like taking direction rom a 28-year-old,” she says “I actually had to let someone go to prove I was serious, and that was hard,” she admits.

Then there is the act that Ancira is a woman in what has traditionally been a man’s ield. But thanks to all the estrogen in the Ancira household, Ernesto Ancira has made sure his company is emale riendly, even going so ar as to employ the irst emale general manager in San Antonio. “The eedback we get is that women are more detail-oriented and are nice to work with,” he says. “Plus having ive daughters was incentive or me to create a place or women to succeed.” Succeed she has, and Ancira shows no signs o slowing down. “I have an overabundance o ideas,” she says with enthusiasm. “Here I have the lexibility to run with them.”

Author: Bonny Osterhage

Photographer: Liz Garza Williams

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