Opinion

Funeral home’s closing city’s loss

Opportunity to work for the funeral home that had cared for the Duke family and thousands of others in this wonderful city became mine in 1978 when Winston Montgomery and I first met.

A funeral director at this stage of his career and stature within the organization normally didn’t travel on out-of-town funerals. This assignment usually went to younger and less experienced staff, not so for Winston Montgomery. No one but he could serve this family, so he made the trip to Elkin. It was there that I met this man / firm, with a larger-than-life personality.

Service driven is the best description of him, who in my mind was tall, but in reality he was physically short.

Mr. Montgomery’s father was the first superintendent of Maplewood Cemetery early into the turn of the 20th century and his mother operated the only florist in Durham (Montgomery’s).

My encounter with Mr. Montgomery that summer led to employment at Howerton-Bryan Funeral Home. The interview concluded with me accepting a job with a man that had been elected to one of the highest offices within the National Funeral Directors Association (district governor) and a past president of the North Carolina Funeral Directors Association. The highest-ranking officers of the NFDA and legal councils were often guests of the Montgomerys and I leaned from his leadership. I'm forever thankful for this man and his firm. What a loss the City of Durham experienced with the closing of this historic company.

Michael Lyon

Clarksville, Virginia

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