El Dorado News-Times, Monday, May 13, 2013
Ministering through memorials
Young’s Funeral Directors: 50 years of offering families comfort and closure
By Allison Gatlin
(Editor’s Note: The following article is the 28 th in a series on established El Dorado businesses that have been in operation for 40 years or more.)
Without a means of paying for the college education that would allow him to become a pastor, Jerry Young took to another form of religious ministry when he opened Young’s Funeral Directors more than 50 years ago, transforming again the structure at 508 Champagnolle Road.
Prior to its occupation by funeral directors and embalmers, the Champagnolle Road facility was built in the late 19th century by Emon O. Mahony as a home later converted into one of the area’s first hospitals, according to News-Times archives. In 1932, the residence became Hall-McWilliams Funeral Home and went through several incarnations before Young, who had worked for the company since 1952, purchased the property in 1960 with the mind of continuing in the funeral business.
Over the three-year remodeling process, Young was particularly proud of the construction of a separate chapel to replace the 100-seat in-house chapel previously utilized by Young’s and off-site parking across the street. He estimated the chapel was completed in 1967.
In 1994, Young’s was sold to a national conglomerate the Hamilton Group, the Keystone Group and, most recently, Dignity Memorial or Service Corps International. Like Young, manager David Garner entered the funeral home business for religious reasons after an industrial accident in 1991 provided him a life-changing perspective. Garner’s entree into the funeral business began in college and brought him to El Dorado four years ago, a year after the mortuary was sold to Dignity Memorial. Both agree, societal shifts have hugely impacted the funeral business.
Sixty years ago a funeral was a traditional affair, conducted in the home or in a church, Young said. Now, it’s an entirely different matter, Garner added. "Society has changed as a whole," he said. "Different age groups are raised differently and they have different trends. A lot of our services are going from a traditional service to a non-traditional service."
Above the business aspect of operating a funeral home, both call their jobs a "ministry." "This is a ministry," Garner said. "It’s our ministry." "Definitely," Young added.