DISTINCTIVE LIFE HOUSTON
We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.
SERVING HOUSTON, TEXAS AND THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES
Distinctive Life Cremation and Funeral Services is proud to provide care and support to our Houston community through the partnership of our internal network of Funeral Home providers including Lonestar Mortuary Services license #2514 and our sister location Houston Jewish Funerals.
The Distinctive Life Houston Care Team, including our licensed funeral directors, are available 24/7 to meet with your family when and where it is best for you, whether it be your home, the hospital/hospice, our location, or wherever is most convenient and comforting for you. We take the time to really talk with you and your family, getting to know you and your loved one who has passed so we can understand what’s most important to you and to the deceased.
We also help families understand that remembrance or memorial services don’t have to be in a traditional funeral home or chapel. In fact, we’ve deliberately chosen to have a small facility in Houston that helps keep our costs low so that we can provide you with the best possible services at a budget-friendly cost. Distinctive Life’s experienced team can help plan services in a location that is meaningful to your loved one and your family – anywhere from a sports venue to a natural landmark. We believe that every life is distinctive, and every life deserves to be honored in a highly personal and meaningful way.
Our Care Team also helps families understand the full range of funeral and memorial services Distinctive Life provides, from cremation-only services to simple, private graveside services to full chapel or church-based services – whatever is needed to help you and your family honor your loved one, celebrate life, and fulfill last wishes.
Beyond our Immediate Need services, Distinctive Life also offers comprehensive pre-planning services to help individuals and families plan ahead, minimize costs, and ensure a legacy is preserved.
FUNERAL SERVICE STAFF MEMBERS
Owner/Executive Director - Andy Starr has always had a knack for business, but he’s also always had a deep desire to serve people at critical times in their lives, whether they’re suffering from an injury, caring for aging parents, or enduring the loss of a loved one. As owner and executive director of Distinctive Life Funeral Homes, Andy has led the company’s efforts to change the way individuals and families are served by the funeral industry, focusing on honoring every life in a highly personal and meaningful way.
Before leading Distinctive Life, Andy co-founded and served as senior executive of Hearthstone Assisted Living, helping foster the company’s growth from scratch to more than 30 communities in 10 states. Before Hearthstone, he was a senior member of the founding management team for U.S. Physical Therapy, helping guide its explosive growth from a start-up to more than 75 clinics nationwide and transitioning it to public trading on the NASDAQ exchange.
Andy started his career as a real estate & banking attorney at the Houston firm of Hirsch & Westheimer after graduating with honors from the University of Texas School of Law. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University in New Orleans.
Owner/Community Relations - From an early age, Zane Belyea knew he wanted a career that involved helping people. He earned a degree in social work and psychology at Southern Illinois University, then worked with abused and neglected children. Zane next worked in the education industry, eventually becoming vice president of recruitment for a large education firm. Many years of business travel and a growing family in Dallas led Zane to look for a new career path, so he followed the advice of one of his mentors and began a new career in the funeral industry.
True to his roots in social work, Zane finds it deeply rewarding to help families during one of the worst moments of their lives, and he’s instilled that passion for creating highly personal celebrations of life throughout Distinctive Life. “Every member of our team has a solemn commitment to serve all of our families well beyond their expectations,” says Zane. “We absolutely won’t let them down.”
Owner/Human Resources - As the vice president of accounting at Distinctive Life, Liz Vargas is responsible for the financials, procedures, budgets, and human resources for all Distinctive Life locations. Before joining the company, Liz worked as an accounting professional for more than 25 years in different industries. She specializes in the direction and setup of accounting systems, as well as establishing policies and procedures for financial and operational activities for startup companies. In her spare time, Liz enjoys working in her garden and watching the Houston Astros – her favorite sports team.
Shawn E. Simon
Location Manager/Funeral Director - Shawn is a 1993 graduate of Commonwealth Institute and holds an Associate’s Degree in Funeral Service and is currently licensed in the State of Texas as a Funeral Director. He is a member of the Texas Funeral Directors Association and the National Funeral Directors Association. Shawn brings over 25 years of experience serving as a funeral director and manager. He has served thousands of families at some of Houston’s finest funeral homes and cemeteries, including Geo. H Lewis & Sons Funeral Directors, Forest Park Westheimer, Forest Park Lawndale, J.B. Earthman – Tanglewood Funeral Directors and Memorial Oaks Funeral Home.
Shawn is originally from South Louisiana and moved to Texas in 1988. In his spare time, he enjoys landscaping, hunting, traveling, napping and spending time with his family. He has one daughter, Kristin and 3 awesome grandchildren, Layne, Jaxon and Rylan. He is currently a member of St. John Vianney Catholic Church.
Funeral Director - While not a native Houstonian, Eric Bishop moved to Houston at the age of 12 from Detroit, Michigan (and a short stint in Beaumont, Texas). Outside of going to school in Austin and working at the New Orleans JCC for two years, he never left and considers Houston his home. After graduation from The University of Houston, Eric started a career as the summer camp director, teen director, and sports director for 18 years until deciding to make a career change on the recommendation of Jeff Friedman, founder of Distinctive Life. Eric has been a funeral director since 2019 and loves to share his two passions helping families and being active in the community.
When not at work, Eric loves spending his time with his family, which includes his wife Dr. Rachel Bishop, son Dylan Bishop, and daughter Marissa Bishop. He loves his Houston sports teams, enjoys watching movies, loves live music, live theater, and travelling (especially Walt Disney World, his happy place).
Funeral Director - Margaret Little was born and raised in Kemah, TX and spent summers in Port Aransas, TX with her parents and older sister whom she is very close with. She eventually made Houston her home in 2015.
Margaret originally obtained an Associate Degree in American Sign Language Interpretation in 2016, but after an unexpected loss of a dear friend she followed her true passion of working in the funeral business. In 2020 she graduated with honors from Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service with an Associate Degree in Funeral Directing. She is a member of the Texas Funeral Directors Association and the National Funeral Directors Association. Margaret truly feels it is a calling to help families honor the lives of their loved ones.
In her spare time, Margaret enjoys spending time with her fiancé, Andy, and their two dogs, Abby & Crow. She enjoys sailing, watching movies, and visiting with family and friends in Kemah, Kerrville, and Port Aransas.
Community Liaison - Distinctive Life is proud that Jane R. Shapiro has joined our team. Jane will be working as our Community Liaison, assisting families with making funeral pre-arrangements. She has been a part of the Houston community for 35 years. She was formerly with Seven Acres Senior Care Services and The Medallion Assisted Living residence. She is a member of the Houston Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Community Liaison - Cindy Kaplan is a second-generation native Houstonian whose business career expands across many industries. She has a diverse range of experience in multiple arenas, such as fashion and insurance, to name a few. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Cindy has been a fixture in the Houston community throughout all moments of her life. She attended private elementary school and continued her education at Pershing Middle School and Bellaire High School. Cindy earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas and her master’s degree from the University of Houston. She and her husband raised two boys and she actively participated in all their activities, cheering them on at their baseball games and theater performances. No matter the activity, whether it was a car wash, bake sale, or candy sale, Cindy was always an engaged and supportive parent to her two sons. Through the passing of her husband, Cindy became intimately familiar with the feeling of losing a loved one. She is passionate about brining her own experience and empathy to Distinctive Life Cremation and Funeral Services as our Community Liaison.
Pre-Planning Advisor - Since childhood, Josh has been instilled with the value of loving kindness. This emphasis on caring for others and the community, led Josh to pursue a career in the funeral industry. Josh’s heartfelt approach to educating individuals and families about their end of life decisions brings ease and comfort to difficult conversations. Josh feels privileged to work alongside families to ensure that they have an exceptional experience when preparing for the inevitable. In joining Distinctive Life, Josh brings several years of experience as a pre-planning advisor and a friendly face to the Houston community.
When Josh is not working at Distinctive Life, he is serving the Houston community as an HFD firefighter at Station 37 on Stella Link. Being a firefighter has further strengthened Josh’s passion as a helping professional. Josh is the co-founder and director of The Captain Renaud Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance Houston firefighters and their families after a line of duty death, catastrophic injury, or work-acquired cancer diagnoses.
Though they’ve known each other since their school days, Josh married Houston-native, Sarah Goldman, in 2013. Josh and Sarah love living and raising their family in the neighborhood where they grew up. They have two sons, Henry and Bowen.