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GloryBe Cakes provides a sweet touch for funeral receptions

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All cakes start as an empty canvas of white icing waiting to be decorated with words, flowers or other meaningful images.

Gloria Klemencic, who runs GloryBe Cakes with her husband, Rick, out of their home, has been donating cakes for funerals for the past 28 years.

It all started when the bereavement committee at her parish, Holy Family Church in Dale City, asked her to donate a cake for the post-funeral reception for an 18-year-old who died from cancer.

Klemencic wanted to personalize it, but had no idea what to include. She attended the viewing and learned the deceased’s sister had written a poem and his brother had drawn him a picture. Klemencic incorporated both on the cake.

“To see how it gave them a chance to participate … and brought them comfort is a reward in itself,” she said.

Years ago, she had told Father George J. Griffin, former pastor, that “God had blessed me with this gift, and as long as I was doing cakes, I would give back through my donation of cakes.” She also donates cakes to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Lake Ridge.

Most recently, she provided cakes for Father Gerry Creedon’s Nov. 21 funeral; one with a golfer, one with a quote from an obituary about his love for music and another with an Irish prayer.

“Father Creedon loved my cakes,” Klemencic said. She had made a cake for his brother Michael’s funeral in September. “I remember Father Creedon standing by the cake and saying, ‘You’ve got one special ministry.’”

Klemencic believes that her ministry can help ease the sadness that comes with loss. She made a cake for her neighbor when his father died. After the funeral, the family was silent at the house and a little boy wandered over to the cake. “I didn’t know Jesus had chocolate hair,” the boy exclaimed and the mood in the room changed. “You have no idea what happens when people see these cakes,” she said.

She designs the cakes with ideas from the family members or from the person’s obituary. Sometimes she prays to the deceased for inspiration or refers to her collection of sympathy cards.  

She made a cake for the funeral of a Chevrolet car salesman. “His wife said all her husband did was eat, breathe and sleep Chevy,” she said. The cake brought laughter with several edible cars floating on clouds and the words, “St. Pete have I got a car deal for you … it’s like riding on a cloud.” “When his wife saw it, she said it was spot on,” Klemencic said. 

When it was time to make a cake for a 21-year-old boy with Down syndrome, Klemencic knew she wanted to include his wheelchair. She had a verse that fit with his picture and was looking for something for the other side of the cake. She prayed about it and was inspired to include a copy of a pilot’s prayer. It struck a chord with the boy’s family.

Her largest bereavement cake order was for the funerals of Kyle Wilson, a firefighter in Dale City killed in 2007, and just last year, for Prince William County Officer Ashley Guindon killed on her first day on the job. For both, they worked all night to make 14 three-quarter sheet cakes to feed 1,000 people. The only stipulation was that someone had to pick them up. 

Klemencic is surprised by the longevity of her ministry. “The families love the support that it gives them and I like doing it,” she said. “I didn’t realize at the time I would be doing it this long.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017