Custom caskets are a grim gift for nineteen families in Uvalde, from one man and his family business.
Trey Ganem was contacted by the Texas Funeral Director’s Association on Tuesday, only hours after the shooting of 21 victims – 19 children and 2 teachers – in Robb Elementary School. The association proposed the project – to customize coffins for 19 of the victims (2 would be cremated, per their families’ choices.)
Ganem and his son, who together form most of Soulshine Industries, his company, immediately went to work. They sourced 19 caskets from a Georgia company that worked overtime to get them made on time. Early Friday, the caskets arrived in Texas. Then the two men worked through the holiday weekend, putting in extraordinary hours to get all of them personalized for each recipient, assembled, and delivered to the various Uvalde funeral homes.
Ganem met with family members of the victims to help him design the perfect theme for each. Spider-Man, softball, marine biology, each child had something they loved, and he tried to capture that.
“We don’t just put a vinyl wrap on top. We actually custom paint every single one. We take the casket completely apart, and we paint the hardware, we paint the bars,” Ganem told CNN.
Typically, Soulshine caskets cost Ganem between $3400 and $3800 to make. He received a few donations, but he didn’t solicit them, and his company has paid for nearly everything.
Ganem began making custom caskets as a business in 2011, following making one for a friend who passed. Since then, his work has gained some nationwide demand, particularly in connection to public tragedies. He’s made caskets for celebrity deaths, for high-profile murder victims. And for the Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas mass shootings.
“I didn’t even think twice when I was asked to do it,” he added, “and God always takes care of us.”