Article Category: SC28
A Visit to the Iowa Funeral Museum

Issue 28 Available Now

Posted Monday, Jun 01

There’s definitely an eye for history in Issue 28, from the service-minded 3rd generation funeral director Jim Lowe of Burlington, NC, to the newly-recognized National Register of Historic Places Vines Funeral Home of LaFayette, Alabama, and out to Marshalltown, Iowa where we visit with Marty Mitchell and the Iowa Funeral Museum – we love the history of the funeral profession. It is rich with tradition, quality, reverence to a certain way of doing things, and the dignity of serving. Our photos are compelling, the stories are moving, and they’re all told from a Funeral Director’s Perspective. There’s only one place you can find inspiration like this, Southern Calls – The Journal of the Funeral Profession.

PEOPLE  By Alice Adams
“For most of my early days at the funeral home, I wasn’t legally old enough to drive the ambulance, but I rode, especially with my dad, on many calls. I was 16 when I began going on ambulance calls, and that was exciting for a young kid,” he said. “Usually, if we had to transport a patient to Chapel Hill or Duke, I took my school books so I could get my lessons while we waited until the doctors either admitted the patient or we took them back home.”

Like most ambulance crewmen, Jim took his turn with back-of-the ambulance deliveries.

“I was 16 and the patient was delivering her eighth child. I did what she told me to do and, basically, caught the infant when she pushed it out. It was an exciting experience,” he said.

PLACES  By Todd Harra
On a sunny, early autumn day in LaFayette, Alabama, a sleepy little town of fewer than 3,000 people, professional vehicles were displayed on the front lawn of what was once a modest brick bungalow. There was a stage encircled with a wreath of balloons woven into an American flag. There was food. There was music. There was merriment. The occasion was the unveiling of a historical marker commemorating the listing of Vines Funeral Home and Ambulance Service on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a distinction held by only one funeral home in the entire state.

But for Merilyn Vines, president of Vines Funeral Home, the day was bittersweet. Her daddy, Julius Summers Vines, the man who began the home’s historic legacy, wasn’t there to witness the festivities.

PASSIONS  By Alice Adams
Some people collect stamps or baseball cards – or maybe dolls or trophies. Marty Mitchell is into all things funereal.

“When we opened Mitchell Family Funeral Home in 2005, I already had a garage full of caskets and funeral memorabilia, so we took an extra room in the new building and made it a museum of sorts,” the Marshalltown native said.

In 2008, an expansion of the original property offered still more room to display the growing collection of memorabilia. By the time the new building for an adjacent crematorium was finished in 2013, there was an even larger space for Marty’s collection, which had grown exponentially.

Southern Calls Issue 28

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Southern Calls Issue 29

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