History & Staff
We have many years of experience caring for families from all walks of life. As leaders in the industry, families know they can count on us to provide them with the comfort they need when they need it the most.
Why Choose Us?
Learn The Legacy
Hillcrest Memorial Gardens was established over 50 years ago by our founders Cecil and Helen Theus on 26 acres of countryside boasting Florida native hardwoods and foliage. We continue to serve our community with the same dedication and compassion making our cemetery one of the finest in the region.
The cemetery's manicured gardens offer a place of peace and reflection for family members and friends to honor their loved ones. We want every guest to experience the warmth and beauty of our gardens. You will find flowers in bloom when you go down our winding drives. The live oaks are a source of great solace that allows our families to honor and pay tribute to their loved ones in the tranquil surroundings of our gardens.
In addition to our beautiful statuary and private family estates, Hillcrest Memorial Gardens also boasts of the area's only Jewish Garden. The Garden of David’s main highlight is a shrine, which features stones from the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in remembrance of those lost during World War II.
We invite you to visit us and see the many options that we provide throughout our cemetery. Our funeral directors can provide informative seminars for large and small groups as well as private consultations on request.
Who We Are
Vice PresidentRead Bio
Jim is a native Floridian, who was born and raised in the Daytona Beach area. For over 12 years, he and his wife, Bev, have resided in Leesburg, Florida with their 2 sons, Hunter and Carter. His children attend Lake Sumter State College and Adventure Christian Academy in Tavares, where Jim’s wife serves the school as Librarian, and personal assistant to the Principal.
He and his family are members of Lake Eustis Christian Church. Jim is an avid fisherman and has traveled from Alaska to Maine and all points in between in order to wet a line.
He is a graduate of Mainland Senior High School and he attended Daytona State College, Daytona Beach, Florida. Jim went on to graduate from Gupton Jones College in Atlanta, Georgia with a degree in Mortuary Science. In 1991, Jim became the third generation of his family to hold funeral director and embalmer licenses in the state of Florida.
He has a long history of community involvement through his church affiliations and he has been a member of Rotary International for over 20 years. Jim has held many board positions in his Rotary Clubs and served as secretary and president over the years. He has the distinction of being a multiple “Paul Harris Fellow.” Additionally, Jim’s service to the Lake County community has allowed him to serve on the boards of the United Way and the Salvation Army.
Professionally, Jim was a founding member of the Florida Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association. He has served as a member of the board, secretary, treasurer, vice president and two terms as president of the association. The association represents Florida funeral professionals’ legislatively and coordinates continuing education venues, regional meetings and conventions each year. Most importantly, the association fosters broad cooperation between death care professionals around the state and around the country. Jim currently serves as a Board Member of the International Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association.
General ManagerRead Bio
William C. Ward, III was born in Rochester, New York and is married to his wife Dr. Marnie L. Ward. They have three children, Diana M. Ward, William C. Ward, IV and Grace L. Ward.
Bill has been in the funeral industry since 1991 and when asked why he is in this industry Bill states “Since I was a young man I have always had a calling to help those who were truly in need of help. The funeral service has truly offered me the opportunity to help families who are truly in need of help.” When asked what Bill likes about his job he stated “Helping families through the difficult process of the funeral arrangement, funeral service and committal service. Thereby allowing them the opportunity to have a service that meets and exceeds their request.”
When Bill is not working, his favorite things to do are helping his children with school work, 4H projects and working on his Lionel Train layout.
When asked what the best advice was that he had ever received Bill said, “Always treat a client family as though they were your own family and you will never be wrong! Given by the late Orlando J. Fero, Jr. who was the owner of Fero Funeral Homes of Beverly Hills and Dunnellon, Florida.”