The Anderson Funeral Home of which I was a 4th generation owner/operator has been in our community since 1872. Dates sometimes go over our heads, but I used to like to remind people that we were in our 5th year of business when the historic “Battle of Little Big Horn” was fought and Gen. George Armstrong Custer met his demise. Usually, that little bit of historic reference gives a better idea of how long we have been operating in our little community.
Our family is no longer the majority owner of the firm, but I stay on as a minority partner in part to see that we stay anchored to our community. I think that is important.
I’ve been out of high school for over 40 years. . . wow, it is hard to believe that. But, before I retired from everyday work it was almost every week that someone – who had grown up in our community – came back to bury mom or dad. Inevitably, they would walk into the funeral home and say, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you! Mom had a new banker, a new investment guy, a new pastor. . . .I’m glad to see someone we know and are familiar with.”
I don’t think that expression is unique to my community. Funeral homes, with generational leadership, probably more so than any other profession, provide a familiar port in the storm for families in need. And, if my experience is the rule, then we know that families appreciate that familiarity.
I thought of this when I read this article about the James H. Cole Home for Funerals in Detroit. The James H. Cole Home for Funerals was established in 1919 and continues today, being operated by the fourth generation of the family. Antonio Green, the 4th generation director says this, “The key to the funeral home’s success is longevity. We provide an anchor in the community and provide a support system.”
When you look at these multiple generation firms, the firms also have to realize to be grateful for the community that has supported them. So, if they want to continue to grow and be relevant in their communities, they need to realize to give back to the community also. The James H. Cole Home for Funerals gives back through its Legacy Foundation program. That program is a non-profit that strives to give back to the Detroit area through inspiration, education, and guidance.
Funeral Director Daily take: Your funeral home can begin being in “anchor for their community” in a number of ways. Giving back to the community should be part of your plan and can come in many different forms.
I recently read this article from WXII Channel 12 in Winston-Salem North Carolina which related what the Slate Funeral Home is going to be doing this fall.
We learned last Spring when K-12 schools went to online schedules due to the coronavirus that many students did not have adequate internet connections in their homes. That situation caused learning difficulties for many children across the country.
The article reports that fully one-third of families in Stokes County, where Slate Funeral Home is located, do not have broadband subscriptions.
Slate Funeral Home manager Jeff Walker told WXII, “We’re servants for the dead. We’re also servants for the living. We live in the community. So, we need to try and make the community better.”
To that end, the funeral home is installing high speed WiFi capabilities in the funeral home and making the funeral home available for student use. Walker mentioned that social distancing rules will be used. He stressed, the building will be open during normal business hours for students as long as it is necessary.
We think this is great use of the facilities and a practical way to help your community. Helping our unique individual communities is something that funeral homes have done for a long time.
Related-– Before I left management at Anderson Funeral Home we helped set up a non-profit in the community to provide free weekly concerts every Thursday night on our court house lawn during the summer months. Our funeral home, and now a local grocery store, provide the funds for an arms length non-profit to operate the summer season. It has proved to be great for our funeral home and great for our community. Here is the web-site with this summer’s line up listed. Today is Thursday, so if you happen to be in Alexandria, Minnesota, stop by the court house lawn. . . The Shalo Lee Band from Minneapolis will be performing its Southern rock genre!!!