Like his grandfather and father before him, third-generation Funeral Director/Embalmer James A. “Jim” Lowe II is passionate about helping others. The owner and president of Lowe (rhymes with wow) Funeral Home in Burlington, North Carolina, has been a willing participant on mission trips with two local churches for almost a quarter of a century, “sometimes five or six weeks a year.”
That wasn’t always the case. For two years, a minister tried to convince him to go on a mission, and he always found an excuse to say no.
“That first trip involved a 36-hour drive north to Canada and then 10 to 12 hours to get to Easterville, Manitoba, a little town with two stores, an ice rink and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police station with a huge antenna and one large church that was only framed in,” he said.
Working in uncommonly cold weather for residents of the Tarheel State, they built a church for the Chemawawin Nation. And Jim was hooked. Jim went back to his home church and formed their own mission team.
People Memorial Christian Church also sent mission groups to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and, one year, Jim and his wife towed a U-Haul filled with Christmas presents for the children on the reservation. Being one-eighth Cherokee makes missions that help Native Americans more than hilanthropic.
“It’s meaningful to do the mission’s work for anyone, but that little connection makes our assistance more personal,” he said of the 20-plus trips Jim has made with the two Burlington churches. “Anytime you do something for someone in need, your insides just feel good.”
His passion is understandable, but how does he manage to run his funeral home if he’s away for weeks at a time?
“My grandfather taught me we were there to take care of families first,” he began. “My grandfather said if a family told us to hop on the casket and ride it through town yelling, ‘yippee ki-yay,’ that’s what we should do – and the second concern would be to take care of the staff.”
“We have a staff I would put up against any in the world,” Jim continued. “I have three who’ve been here more than 30 years and eight who have worked here over 20 years.”
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