Our Staff

Our staff's commitment to you

Our staff is committed to providing support, compassion, information, and direction as needed to all members of our community, their families, and friends who are dealing with loss and grief.

Leadership Team

PHILIP R. WHITE

5th Generation Owner

Born and raised in Whittier, Phil is the fifth-generation of the White family to own and operate White Emerson Mortuary. Faith, family, food and hospitality is mostly what Phil knew through the entirety of his youth. His parents, Dave and Lynn, would host weekly Bible studies for anywhere between 10 and 100 people, all of which they would feed. Phil only remembers a handful of times that it was just his family at the dinner table; there were always additional mouths to feed. That is probably why cooking is now one of Phil’s passions.

Phil graduated from Whittier Christian High School. Saving money to go to college, he figured working for the family business was the best way to make-due (all the while making it clear he had no desire to follow in the family business). After a short period of time, funeral service called to Phil. The first hug of gratitude he received; the realization that it is ok to cry with those who hurt; and the understanding that we are serving God by comforting His children made it clear to Phil that he was here to stay. After taking over the family business, the Whittier Narrows Earthquake of 1987 destroyed the mortuary building. With the encouragement of his father, David (fourth-generation owner), Phil acted as Owner and Builder, rebuilding the current mortuary facility. 

In 1984, Phil married his bride, Rebekah. Together they have two children, Paul and Annie, who both work for the family business. He is the proud grandfather to his three grandchildren. Phil has been an avid outdoor sportsman, enjoying hunting, fishing and golfing. He also loves his annual garden which aids his passion for cooking. Most of all, he is grateful for his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

PAUL D. WHITE

Managing Director

Paul White is the sixth-generation of funeral directors in his family’s business. At age 16 he attended the Mortuary Science program at Cypress College and earned an Associates degree in Mortuary Science. He went on to graduate from Biola University in La Mirada with a Bachelors degree in Biblical Studies. After college, Paul moved to Utah to work for a non-profit organization. After his time in non-profit service, he joined the funeral profession again while living in Salt Lake City. He and his family would eventually move back to California to join his family’s business in Whittier.

Paul enjoys engaging with his local community, including being a part of the Whittier Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Whittier Host Lions Club. In 2013, he helped found the Transitional Care Task Force (LA Chapter), a partnership of funeral service providers and hospice organizations helping families transition from hospice care to funeral service.

Paul is licensed as a Funeral Director, Embalmer and Crematory Manager in California. He also holds his Funeral Directors license in the state of Utah. Growing up around the business has had a profound impact on his life, as he has learned to appreciate every day as a gift from The Lord.

Funeral Arrangers and Service Directors

CURTIS CROSBY

Family Services Director

Curtis was born and raised in the rural community of Lovell, Wyoming. At the age of 14 he began assisting his brother-in-law at the local funeral home. This experience fueled his innate passion for service and – coupled with his own experience with loss – contributed to his choice of a career in funeral service. Curtis attended Cypress College and earned an associate degree in Mortuary Science. He is a licensed funeral director, embalmer, and prearrangements counselor and has been serving bereaved families for nearly 18 years.

For Curtis, the most meaningful thing about funeral service is the opportunity to serve others at their time of need. “People come to us with great inner turmoil, and we have the privilege of helping them take their first steps back to somewhat of a normal life. That is very rewarding,” he says. 

True to his Wyoming roots, Curtis enjoys horseback riding, hunting, and riding quads. However, family comes first. He most enjoys spending time with his wife, kids, and extended family.

Having served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile, Curtis is fluent in Spanish and works with most of the Spanish-speaking families that White Emerson Mortuary serves.

RICHARD CRAIN

Family Services Coordinator

Richard was born in Arkansas (please don’t hold this against me!). His family moved west when he was 6 years old. Raised in the San Gabriel Valley, he attended Pasadena College where he was the Drum Major of the Official Tournament of Roses Band for two consecutive years. He went on to attend East Los Angeles College and Azusa Pacific University’s Masters in Conducting Program. Answering Uncle Sam’s invitation, he took basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey and Military Occupation Specialties (MOS) training at Ft. Lewis, Washington. Following his military release, he worked as an Operations Manager for the former Security Pacific National Bank, before that later merged with Bank of America.

Feeling a higher-calling, he studied at Berean School of the Bible, now known as Global University in Springfield, Missouri. As a licensed minister, he served as a Worship Arts Director at First Family Church in Whittier developing musical and artistic worship expressions. During his time in ministry, he composed and created musical productions, produced choral recordings and sang with the Bonner Singers – recording in London and singing for the opening of Disneyland Paris, France. During this time he also served as musical conductor of the Southern California Edison Company Chorale, performing various community service performances.

After years in music, Richard found himself ready to step into a more personal and supportive role as a Chaplain for Silverado Hospice Company, eventually leading to his current position with White Emerson Mortuary. Richard earned his Grief Specialist Certification from the Grief Recovery Institute and conducts grief support meetings to help those who have suffered a loss. He finds great satisfaction in serving families in their greatest time of sorrow and pain. Helping them find ways of honoring their loved ones is very fulfilling.

Richard is married to his extraordinary wife, Ronalyn, and together they have two sons and two, loving daughters-in-law. His favorite pastime is spending time with his two, beautiful granddaughters.

KYLE GRUENDYKE

Bio coming soon!

Support Staff

KELLY HUGHES

Bio coming soon!

EMILY CENISEROS

Bio coming soon!

DAN ANGUIS

Bio coming soon!

Part-time Service Directors

MIGUEL ACUNA

Funeral Assistant

Miguel was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas where he attended Roy Miller High School. After graduating from high school, Miguel joined the United States Marine Corps where he served his country proudly for two years. After his time in the Marines, he attended college.

Miguel joined the team at White Emerson Mortuary in 1996 as a funeral assistant. “Working for White Emerson has been extremely rewarding because I get to help families in a time of need,” he shares. When he is not at work, he likes to BBQ and spend time with his children and grandchildren. He also enjoys serving in his community as an Elder through Cornerstone Celebration Center International Church in Whittier.

CECILIA VALLEZ

Funeral Assistant

Though Cecilia came to White Emerson in 2014, she has actually served in the funeral industry for 18 years. Her primary responsibility is in the role of service director, assisting families and clergy in coordinating the details of funeral services, including church services, as well as ceremonies at the graveside. Cecilia is bilingual, helping her serve diverse families from the broader Whittier community. She most enjoys serving families during a sensitive time of need, helping provide comfort and peace of mind during a difficult time.

Cecilia is a native to Southern California and enjoys music and singing, surfing, spending time with her daughters, and taking long walks, spending time with God. She has been married to her husband Mike for almost 25 years; they make their home in Whittier.