The only horse-drawn hearse in Colorado will stop operating on Saturday, October 26. That totals about 700 funerals, three horses and rivers of tears since Lorraine Malgosa began her Wellington Carriage Company. Saturday is the day Malgosa marks her retirement.
She originally intended to sell or donate the stately hearse to someone who could follow through with her passion to help grieving families through their most difficult moments of their lives.
However, Malgosa informs Denver’s Fox 31 that she has spoken with the Colorado National Guard. Hopefully, the Guard will take over the horse and hearse to escort fallen soldiers. They are working out pertinent details.
The hearse is an 1867 James Cunningham and Sons funeral coach. It provides a quiet dignity that simply is not possible in today’s hearse vehicles.
It’s just a cut above, you know, it stands out, and when you see that going down the road, you just say wow, who died. The sound of the horse’s hooves on the pavement, the jingling of the harness, it just takes you back in time.
In 1991 Malgosa wanted a horse-drawn hearse for her father’s funeral, but couldn’t find one. So she and her brother bought one and started the business to help families mourn. When they started Wellington Carriage Company, the had no concept of the hearse’s popularity.
A great many of the funerals have been for U.S. troops, too many of them killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan. Malgosa has never charged the families a dime for those funerals.
Every horse I’ve had they’ve done it with dignity and grace and without complaint. They just know that this is an important job.
Recently Malgosa made the decision that it was time to retire. She said, “My health isn’t what it used to be, and I’m not as young as I used to be, and you know, even old soldiers get to retire after 20 years, and all good things must come to an end.”
Her retirement party is from 2 to 4 p.m. at Horan and McConaty Funeral Home, 5303 E. County Line Road, Centennial. The public is invited.
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See also this YouTube video featuring Lorraine Malgosa: Angel Flight