Article Category: Passions | Pillars | SC22

Daniel E. Buchanan | Wisdom Beyond the Classroom

Posted Saturday, Dec 01
Written By Luke Teague
Southern Calls, Vol. 28, June 2020

For professionals, college is often viewed as the most formidable part of any career. As the morning dew turns to frost and leaves begin to change, fall semester is already in full swing. Registering for class, buying books and taking exams can be daunting, and mortuary school is no different. As a required prerequisite for licensure by the overwhelming majority of states, the education is intense, impactful and challenging. Relationships are initially introduced with formal roles, clearly defined as instructor and student but, by the end, have evolved into close friendships among colleagues that last a lifetime. 

When Southern Calls first announced that longtime Gupton-Jones College President Dan Buchanan would be featured, the news went viral across social media. An outpouring of solidarity and support for the former educator was almost instantaneous. The flood of comments was overwhelming, an obvious testament to his widespread respect and admiration, and how he has served as a devoted and loyal mentor to countless funeral directors. Buchanan’s reputation precedes him, while his wisdom reaches far beyond the classroom. 

Born in Burlington, North Carolina, Buchanan remembers that his curiosity about funeral service began in elementary school. His father, The Rev. Ralph L. Buchanan, was a Presbyterian minister. 

“Churches were the cultural and political centers of the community during this time, and my dad was serving a relatively large congregation at Hawfields Presbyterian Church, which was attended by many prominent local politicians,” said Buchanan 

In 1958, former North Carolina Gov. Kerr Scott died while serving in Washington as a US Senator representing the state. 

“I took the day off from school to attend his funeral, which was held at the church and attended by Richard Nixon, who was then serving as vice president, as well as other senators and politicians from around the country,” Buchanan remembered. 

After the service, Scott was buried in the church cemetery. 

“The whole funeral was impressive, and I was particularly interested in how the funeral directors conducted and carried themselves. I was intrigued and knew there was something about those people, but I wasn’t sure exactly what they did,” described Buchanan, recalling the first time he made his career goal known publicly. 

“When my third grade teacher was asking our class what we wanted to be when we grew up, I announced my intention to become a funeral director,” he proclaimed. 

The remainder of this article is reserved for subscribers only

In addition to receiving all of our quarterly magazines by mail, subscribers to Southern Calls have exclusive access to additional online articles, as well as ability to read all Southern Calls magazine articles as they come available.

Get your One Year or Two Year subscription today, or login here to continue viewing the rest of the article. 

Southern Calls Issue 22

Order this issue

Southern Calls Issue 22

In stock

Articles Relating to Issue 22

The Marsellus Casket Company

The Marsellus Casket Company

For over 130 years, Marsellus Casket Company remained true to its highly principled, purposeful mission to manufacture the finest handcrafted hardwood caskets and offer maximum value to funeral home owners and to the families they serve. The company was supported by…

Kimberly Farris-Luke | Madame President

Kimberly Farris-Luke | Madame President

Farris Funeral Service | Abingdon, Virginia On a typical Saturday morning at an Abingdon, Virginia, funeral home, the sound of a little girl’s footsteps, skipping down the stairs from the second-floor apartments, interrupts the quiet of the darkened mortuary below….

Other Recent Articles

The Recessional

The Recessional

The Art of Undertaking | From our Limited Series of prints by Southern Calls “Red clay fills the hole left in our hearts. Only flowers remain as guardians of the grave, until they too wither and die. Rows of headstones remind us of a new reality. Homeward bound.” ...

read more
Corpse Lifter

Corpse Lifter

Patented July 27, 1880 by Edward B. Carter of Huntsville, Alabama To all whom it may concern:Be it known that I, EDWARD B. CARTER, of Huntsville, in the county of Madison and State of Alabama, have invented a new and Improved Corpse-Lifter, of which the following is a...

read more
The Complete Embalmer

The Complete Embalmer

And the Story of Thomas Holmes, MD The embalming craze took off when an Army Medical Corps colonel (and close friend of President Lincoln) became the first Union officer to be killed. On May 24, 1861, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth was shot while removing a Confederate flag...

read more

Join Our Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter to periodically receive article updates, industry news, and details about new issues before they are released.

The Magazine