South Boston News & Record
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BROOKS FUNERAL HOME BOWS OUT
SoVaNow.com / March 13, 2014Brooks Funeral Home, one of South Boston’s oldest businesses and a downtown mainstay going on nine decades, announced yesterday that it will close its doors at the end of the month.
“As of March 31, 2014 Brooks Funeral Home, Inc. will no longer be in business,” said Kathy Comer, president of the company.
“This is largely due to the current economy, as well as the changes in the funeral industry as a whole. We can no longer afford to help people financially in their time of need because when we do, people don’t always follow through with their promises.”
Comer, a fourth generation funeral professional, said, “If I can’t help people, I don’t want to be in business. The funeral industry has become much more of a business than a service, and I just can’t run it that way.”
Comer said it isn’t worth it to her or to the staff to sacrifice their values to hold onto business, although the unwillingness to do so has hurt her company. “We have made a great deal of effort to maintain our integrity and not engage in unethical practices as we serve the community and we are having to pay the price.”
The funeral home has a long history in South Boston, having moved to the corner of Main Street and Seymour Drive in May 1935. The company was founded by Comer’s great-grandfather, George D. Brooks, and his cousin, Cyrus White, in Hurdles Mill, N.C., prior to 1914.
Brooks also opened a second funeral home (which doubled as a country store) in Semora, N.C. in the late 1920s. His wife and daughter were also involved in the business; daughter Merle became one of the first females to become a licensed funeral director in Virginia and North Carolina.
White went on to operate Brooks and White Funeral Home of Roxboro, N.C. While Brooks Funeral Home in South Boston shares some ancestral ties with the North Carolina home, they are not legally associated, Comer said yesterday.
After Brooks moved the his funeral business to South Boston in 1935, Brooks Funeral Home was operated for many years by Merle Brooks Jones, daughter of the founder, and her husband, Tom Jones, following Brooks’ death.
When Jones died in 1980, the couple’s son, Douglas Brooks Jones, and his wife, Betty, took over management of the business until 2000, when Douglas and Betty’s daughter, Kathy, purchased the business from her parents.
From now until March 31, the business office will be open as usual, Comer said. “People who have prepaid and prearranged funerals can call and schedule an appointment, and we will assist them in moving their plan to another funeral home. Also we will continue to assist families, who have already used our services in filing insurance claims and processing other paperwork.
“Those who are currently making regular monthly payments to Brooks Funeral Home should continue to do so uninterrupted. Anyone who has an outstanding balance that is not covered by insurance or an up-to-date payment schedule should contact the funeral home immediately to arrange payment.
“For those who do not contact us by April 1, 2014 you will be contacted by an attorney who will be handling any further collection efforts,” Comer said.
“As for me, I will continue to help people who have lost a loved one because that is where my heart lies. Therefore, I plan to serve as an independent funeral consultant for families that want or need assistance with funeral planning, at-need and preneed. That way I can still help families who may be vulnerable and in need of guidance during their time of grief.”
CommentsI really hate to hear this though from things I've heard the last few years, I'm not surprised. Another local business gone...
Kathy, your family has served ours well in times of death. They've said more than once "Brooks buries us". Thanks and wishing all of you the best.
- By powerhouse on 03 / 13 / 14
CommentsThankfully, I have never had to deal with a funeral home personally. But I saw firsthand the compassion and caring that the Brook's staff showed the Williams family. They were more concerned with the family's loss and the emotional trauma that losing Josh had caused than how much they could charge them and trying to upsell things. They said not to even worry about cost, they'd work it out. Such a loss to this community to lose such an ethical and caring business and group of people.
- By Ronda Campbell on 03 / 13 / 14
CommentsKathy, I do hate to see this but I can understand with todays economy. I want to tell you thank you for always helping me and being there for my family/friends in our many times of need. I wish you the best of luck in the future!
- By Angela Whitfield on 03 / 13 / 14
CommentsVery sad to heard this. Brooks Funeral Home had served my family since 1948.
The staff there treated you like you were their family
- By Ginger Farmer on 03 / 13 / 14
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