As an after-care specialist for Peters Funeral Home, Gary Little provides comfort to individuals who have lost their loved ones. He has also provided care to 249 foster children. His other passions include being a Church of God minister and a singer in a gospel group. He said that everything he does is an aspect of his ministry.

Whether it’s putting a song in the heart or providing nourishment for the soul, he’s making the little things count in life.

Gary Little, 45, works at Peters Funeral Home as the after-care specialist. He takes care of the needs of families of the deceased from the moment they walk into the building up to six months after the service.

He’s also the funeral coordinator for LIFT, a support group for widows and widowers that helps them get back into life.

After work, however, he stays busy with other activities. He’s the lead singer in a gospel group and a Church of God minister. He and his wife have fostered 249 children — most of them with special needs — and they have raised a son with special needs.

Two years ago, Little gave up his job in the corporate floral industry to become a mortician, and he’ll graduate from mortuary school in November.

At 21, Little worked for Buckners Children’s Home, which was located by a funeral home. He applied to work there seven times but was never accepted.

“When I decided to leave the corporate industry, I had a clean slate, and I didn’t know what to do next,” he said. “My wife said, ‘All I heard all these years is the funeral industry. It should be a no brainer.’

“So I enrolled in school, and from day one, I never looked back,” Little said. “This the most rewarding thing in my life. Here, I can make the difference.

“The best part of my life is the ability to reach out to broken hearts and give them hope. Anytime we can give someone hope, it’s a gift from God. That’s why it’s perfect here.”

Little has a gospel group called “For His Sake.” They put music to different styles ranging from rap to bluegrass, and they also put music to 40s and 50s songs. They sing for civic organizations, churches and rallies.

“I love music because it’s a way of expression,” he said. “As a kid, I was very large. God had given me a voice, and it was my way to have something special. Music got me through some hard times. It’s one of my passions.”

Another one of Little’s passions is being a minister, and he’s currently helping to build a church in Quinlan. His first ministry job was at an inner-city, multi-cultural church in New Mexico.

“God calls me to churches that can’t afford a pastor, but money has never been an issue.”

He shares another ministry with his wife, Penny. They have been married for 25 years, but earlier in their marriage, they divorced and married other people. They both divorced and then remarried each other.

The Littles now teach marriage enrichment classes for couples going through divorce or who have married others. They also work with couples that are in the ministry and are burned out.

“That’s what happened to us, but the Lord put us back together,” he said.

The Littles have been foster parents since 1982. They have fostered 249 children and 38 adults in 21 years.

“We love children, and back then, there was a need for foster parents,” he said. “At that time, we didn’t know that we couldn’t have children. We started with one little girl, and it grew from that.”

The Littles are licensed for special needs and hard-to-place children, and they have had children of all nationalities and ages. Since Little has had six spine surgeries, he can’t do as much as he used to.

“But my heart is certainly there with the special needs population,” he said.

Little’s son, David, will be 18 in October, and he was their 167th foster child. David was born with special needs, and the doctors didn’t think he would live to be 5.

“We visited him for six weeks, and we knew he would be ours,” Little said. “The love that I have for my child is incredible. What some people think is a burden is the biggest blessing you can have.”

Little believes that everything he does is an aspect or outlet of his ministry.

“They all dove-tail together, and every one of those things I had to fight for,” he said. “I’ve been through hardships and turmoil every step I’ve been. My dad taught me that anything worthwhile is worth doing right.”

Today is Little’s 45th birthday, and he can think of no better way to celebrate than to share his passions with the community, especially his passion for his new career

“Many times in my life, I had to have jobs that were jobs,” he said. “This isn’t a job. I love every aspect of it. Being a motivator and giving people hope is the greatest gift I can offer to the community.

“My life has been 24 years in the making. Like most fathers, I’ve put my wife and kids first most of my life. This is my time to get to do something for myself. It’s the final thing that was missing in my life, and it fits like a perfect glove.

“Things could not be more perfect for me, and I’m having the time of my life.”

For questions or comments, call Gary Little at 903-455-3310.

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