‌‌5 Minority Owned Funeral Homes You Should Know About (And Support)

What would you say if I asked to describe your typical funeral director?

Would they be male, white, and middle aged? Chances are, your stereotypes of funeral directors would lead you to an image similar to what we just described.

Yet, funeral service is changing. And this is to be celebrated.

Young folks, women, LBGTQ and BIPOC communities are entering the funeral service profession and with them, they’re bringing much needed changes. With racial and social justice quickly becoming the theme of 2020 accross industries, we must not ignore it in ours.

Let’s take a look at 5 minority-owned funeral businesses to support, and how they’re helping the face of the funeral profession:


#1: Life Memorial Centre: Aiming to break down the racial divide

Tiffany A. Smith, the President of Life Memorial Centre, isn’t exactly who many of her potential customers would expect to see when asking for the “boss” of her funeral home. She’s used to surprising folks who expect to see a white man in charge of the funeral home she took over in 2013. 

Taking over a previously white-owned funeral home as a black woman has its challenges, Smith suggests. But her work encourages folks in their community to step outside of their prejudices, and overcome division that has been long set in place. Although her growth has been slow, Smith hopes to cater to all people, rather than just one race, and “unite people through death”. We look forward to seeing her vision take off in a changing industry!

Follow them on Facebook here.

IMAGE CREDIT: Christian Gooden, [email protected] via the St. Louis Dispatch


#2: Crossings: One woman’s vision for a simplified end-of-life

When her daughter was taken off of life support, Elizabeth Knox was told by the hospital that her only choice to care for her daughter was to send her to a funeral home. Reluctantly, she called a funeral home, and was able to barter with the director so she could have her daughter taken home. Knox wanted to care for her daughter in death, just as she did in life. But why was it so complicated to do so? 

As a result of her complicated experience trying to get her daughter back home after her death, Knox became a death midwife, a home funeral guide, and a funeral rights educator. As a minority-owned funeral business (women are still minorities in funeral service), it’s Knox’s mission to “educate families and communities in their real choices in after-death care”. Through workshops and events, Knox has been able to advocate for a “home death” movement, and we deeply respect the way she’s helped many with her work!

To attend a workshop or event and learn more about Crossings, click here.


#3: After Life Mortuary Services: One city’s first Black Woman owned mortuary

It takes a leader to start a movement, and in this case, Madeline Lyles and Dana Taylor were those leaders. Being the first funeral home owned and operated by black women, Lyles and Taylor are setting out to change the face of the funeral profession in Memphis, Tennessee. This change is happening all around the country, as we begin to acknowledge the emotional intelligence that women naturally carry as a huge part of the funeral business. 

By taking the big leap, Taylor says they’re inspiring many others to follow suit. “We have gotten a lot of messages and phone calls … different people reaching out especially young women. Some have said, ‘I wanted to be a mortician and my parents talked me out of it, or said it was weird, but now that I see you all on Facebook, smiling and you love what you do…’ They get inspired. Some have actually enrolled in mortuary schools,” Taylor said via High Ground News.

Follow them on Instagram: @afterlifemortuary


#4: Kraft Sussman Funeral & Cremation Services: Serving the LGBTQ community

After reading about a transgender funeral director being fired from her funeral home simply for being transgender, one can’t help but ask: who IS supporting the LQBTQ community in funeral service? The answer? Kraft Sussman Funeral & Cremation Services in Las Vegas, Nevada. “So many folks in the trans community don’t get a proper death,” one funeral professional told writer Daniel Wilson in an article on “dying queer” via the Order of the Good Death. 

But thankfully, owners Wendy Kraft and Laura Sussman are on a mission to support these communities in the best way they can. Being the only gay owned and operated funeral home in Southern Nevada, these two courageous women have a big mission and are spreading their messages through workshops and talks to ensure the rights of their LGBTQ communities.

Follow them on Twitter: @FuneralKraft

#5: Re-Imagine: Transforming our approach to life and death

Although Millenials aren’t quite a “minority” in our culture, they sure are minorities in the funeral profession. Often accused of “killing” the death industry with their new outlooks on death, religion and funerals, many millennials are stepping up to embody the changes the funeral industry has long needed. One example of this is Re-Imagine, a non-profit that creates grassroots experiences and festivals dedicated to re-imagining the way we treat death in our society. 

Their events celebrate many of the minority cultures in the US and invite a wide variety of voices that echo visions of the future. According to their website, their purpose is to “to host a public conversation that transforms our approach to life,” and we give major kudos to them for taking on such a big vision and bringing it to life. Despite the global pandemic we face, Re-Imagine continues to host virtual experiences. To attend one, check out their schedule of events here.

Follow them on Twitter: @Lets_Reimagine


What minority-owned funeral businesses should we feature in our next blog? Tell us about them below!

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  1. Stephanie Strawbridge

    Strawbridge Memorial Chapel, the first funeral home in the city of Cleveland, Oh to be established by an African American woman.

  2. Krystal Penrose

    Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  3. Yvette Harris

    From humble beginnings, Evans St. Fort was born in Florida, growing up in Miami for most of his adolescence. Exposed to his strong Haitian heritage, Evans established deep roots in his culture early in his life, which was only exemplified when his family, namely his father, decided to begin a multitude of businesses back in their native island. After graduating from high school, Evans’s vision was to develop further what his father had started back in Haiti.

    Enrolling initially at St. Thomas University, he eventually transitioned to Lynn University, graduating second in his class with a degree in Mortuary Science. Despite his success, soon after graduating, Evans encountered his first setback of not passing his attempt at the board exam. This failure only served as a temporary inconvenience, as he aced it the second time around, allowing him to move on to an internship at Fred Hunters.

    “I was a sponge there and learned a lot, for which I am very grateful. I knew I would not be there for long, so I took every opportunity to learn everything about the business.”

    Inspired by his father’s leadership and the competition from his brother, Evans believed he had an excellent foundation that stood so firm that I didn’t need to draw from anyone else. From that foundation, soon after he had completed his internship in North Miami Beach, Evans remodeled the building to fit his image at the young age of 25, making the building his own. Soon after, he worked Monday through Sunday, wearing all necessary hats and jackets to keep his business operation, not even making a profit for the first few years. He did all embalming, picking up human remains, cosmetics, family meetings, funeral arrangements, and working funeral services, not to mention managing the business side of things.

    [email protected]

    Thank you.

  4. Claude Holmes

    That’s very motivational! May God continue to bless his business, family, and the people he serve.