Manuel Crespo was a generous and devoted funeral director who lived from 1903 to 1989 and made a name for himself by helping to build the Hispanic community in Houston. He was even named a “Pioneer Of Houston” in the early 1980s by then-VicePresident George H.W. Bush.
His famous name now graces the Funeraria Del Angel Crespo, the funeral home at 4136 Broadway.
Crespo, born in Spain, emigrated to the U.S. as a teenager and labored in Texas as a dishwasher, knife-sharpener and refinery worker, according to the Texas State Historical Association.
He was 28 when he started managing a funeral home on Navigation Boulevard in Houston for $15 a week. He worked his way up, eventually becoming a co-owner and buying out the other three owners.
As a pillar of the community, Crespo met President John F. Kennedy in Houston the night before the president’s assassination in November 1963.
Crespo’s civic life was varied. He ran for elected office several times and joined the Houston Police Department as a detective when he was 37, becoming the city’s first Hispanic police officer. His picture was hung in the Houston Police Academy Museum.
After six years, Crespo left police work and went back to being a funeral director, helping to start League of United Latin American Citizens chapters and sponsoring youth sports leagues.
Opened in 1967, the funeral home on Broadway was re-named Funeraria Del Angel Crespo to honor Crespo in 1990, a year after his death, and is still affiliated with the funeral home on Navigation.
Funeraria Del Angel Crespo on Broadway has an established reputation for serving families with their funeral and cremation services.
“We are happy to be in this community of the Hobby Area and enjoy all the beautification this Management District does for us,” said Rodolfo Hernandez, location manager and licensed funeral director. “The Crespo family has been serving the Houston area for over half a century. We proudly support our community and its strategic partners.”
Funeraria Del Angel Crespo’s Broadway chapel sits on the banks of Sims Bayou and is a community landmark because of its wide beige façade and large white columns. The graceful interior can seat up to 275 guests and has a private visitation room, two arrangement rooms and a spacious, welcoming lobby.
Since 2014, it has been part of the Dignity Memorial network, allowing the funeral home to offer benefits like a 24-hour help-line and grief management.
It is working to accommodate families in the time of COVID-19.
“We are keeping up with the times in regard to technology, safety and updated types of celebrations of life,” said Jorge Cotte-Cruz, business development manager for the Dignity Memorial Network.
That includes live-streaming video of memorial services and creating tribute videos afterward.
“For our families, we are able to complete funeral planning, including electronic signatures, without needing a funeral home visit,” he said. “Whether there has been a passing of a loved one or someone wants to ‘pre-arrange’ for the future, we provide many benefits that our families appreciate.”
— by Brian Rogers