Following in dad’s footstepsKenneth Jones at the helm of the family business.
By Lisa King | Mon, April 30, 2012 - 11:25 AM
He is at the helm of one of the oldest black-owned businesses in the island.
In 1948, his father Clyde B. Jones performed his first funeral service and since his father’s death in 2008, Kenneth Jones has taken over the family-run funeral home.
Ken, as he is familiarly known, said he got into the mix of things at the funeral home from the time he was a schoolboy at Boys’ Foundation. After school when his father held a funeral at the nearby Christ Church Parish Church, he would go to the graveyard and help his father out.
With the death of his father, Ken has taken over the administrative duties while his sister runs the office and brother Sydney is a qualified embalmer.
Ken said: “I do not know if my father was lucky that everybody fell into place, but he did not tell us to do it.
“It goes down through the generations. You come up in it and everybody sort of falls into place. We were not forced into it.”
Ken said that as children growing up, living at the home and seeing the operations of the funeral business, it came naturally and now his children, nieces and nephews operate the business.
However, he recalled that in the early years of the business there was a stigma attached to working in the funeral business.
He said that in those days, people said that he was dealing with “duppies” and they would not even want to shake your hand.
However, he said that now many young people are calling and seeking work because they are now more educated.
Now that Ken is the funeral director, he understands the need to continue the good work his father became known for – taking care of every aspect of the funeral from dealing with National Insurance to arranging the church, flowers and gravesite.
He said that as his father aged, he handed the reins of the business over to his children.
“That is another thing with black businesses, I find that from talking to sons through the years, how their businesses fall through is that parents would not let go and let them come in. You need to let go, to let the younger crowd go forward and do things.”
The cost of a funeral may seem like a lot on paper but the biggest challenge to the funeral director is getting people to live up to their commitments to pay.
People do not plan for death and that is one of the reasons they have problems paying for their funerals.
The one part of the business that he does not like is the fighting among families because of greed.
Another problem is that everyone backs out and wants to leave one person to foot the entire bill.
Being around death for so long and having to console family members could make you emotionally hard, but Ken said dealing with it has not totally had that effect. He said it affects you more when they are kids. “It is hard when the deceased are 18 or 19 and had hardly seen life.
“Although with all the years I have been in the funeral business and watching people grieve, it was only when my father died that it happened to me. Usually we get a call after someone passes but this time I witnessed when he died, I was right there when he passed so that was an experience,” Ken said.
He said it was especially hard to deal with his body but it had to be done, and it got done by the team.
What made it easier was the fact that his father was prepared for his own death and had already dug his grave and built a tomb so all that had to be done was to put him inside and cover over with the slab.
“He was prepared to die but many people do not plan for death; but dying to me is nothing.
“You can die any time, you do not even have to be sick, and we have seen it happen too often,” Ken said.
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