Have you ever thought of a casket as a Western work of art? If it’s made by Ed and Robin Castillo, owners of Cowboy’s Last Ride Casket Company, and their crew, you can.
For the past five years, they’ve been creating Western-themed caskets for cowboys, ranchers and country folks who just don’t see themselves taking their last ride in a shiny lacquered box with sparkling metal fittings and a glossy satin lining. That’s not the way they lived and it’s not the way they want to go to their eternal rest.
Ed Castillo says the company was founded nine years ago and he purchased it in 2009.
“My next door neighbor, he talked me into buying the business from him. I didn’t have very much experience with wood at all, but I knew what cowboys wanted. I started cowboying when I was 13 or 14, working on ranches in San Angelo and then in the Panhandle,” he said. “Cowboys are down to earth. They don’t want nothin’ fancy, nothin’ shiny. Our caskets are solid wood and individually built. No two are alike. We also do a lot of brands on the caskets, and a lot of carvings.”
Oscar Soto, who answers phones and helps people who need information, says everything is built in-house.
“It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind product. We have the old tapered-style casket – coffin style. And we like to use a lot of hair-on hide. No one else makes them in this state or in the United States. If you can think of a design in your imagination, we can build it.”
And they can deliver it quickly too.
“If we were to get a call right now, we could get it out in 12 hours," Soto said. "It took us 22 hours to take one to Colorado Springs round trip. They called us at 4 p.m. and we had it there at 4 a.m. the next morning.”
The woods the artisans use in their coffins are pecan, cypress, oak, pine and cedar, but Soto says that if somebody wants it made out of a different wood, “we’ll do it if we can get it.”
Castillo adds that the components they buy are entirely made in Texas.
“We don’t buy out of state," he said. "Our conchos, we get from a guy in San Angelo who designs them himself and our saddle blankets are made in El Paso.”
Castillo says a woman – one of the friendliest people he ever met – designed one of their most popular caskets. He met her at church when he moved from the Panhandle to Early, Texas. Not long after they met, she said she wanted him to make her a casket. She designed it herself and it became one of their best sellers ever. Her name was Lila Cathy and she just passed away a few days ago.
Castillo said they do a lot of carvings on coffins. The company’s chief woodworker is Emmanuel Marques. A coffin they did a week ago is one that stands out. It features a family portrait on the inside of the lid, along with the departed’s horse and brand.
“My son Karlin takes a lot of stress off my shoulders," Castillo said. "He delivers for me. He can line. He can carve. Addie’s still in high school but works part time, cleaning up, doing sanding and things like that. My oldest, Cathy, has moved to California and is working for AmeriCorps right now. She’s been trying to save the world since she was a little girl.”
The company also does a lot of donations.
“We work with people. It’s a hard time and people are down and we offer to help any way we can," Castillo said. "We donate about seven coffins a year. It’s something that you just have to do.”
Cowboy’s Last Ride provides an original and unique service to the western lifestyle community. To have a look at their one-of-a kind craftsmanship, visit their website at CowboysLastRide.com.