While many local businesses come and go, one Laurinburg native has returned home to see her family’s funeral home into its eighth decade.
Having moved to Atlanta, Ga. in 1996, Wendy Morris Holt returned to the area last year to join Morris Funeral Home, the business started by her grandfather, Coppin Harold Morris, Sr., in 1934. Holt’s father, Coppin Harold Morris, Jr., was also a mortician.
“I struggled with it for a long time,” said Holt. “I’ve done other things: I’ve been a licensed real estate broker in Georgia, I’ve done credit counseling, I’ve done a lot of different things. But I felt the need to come back home and work in my family’s business.”
Holt is licensed as a mortician in Georgia and received her North Carolina licensure last month. She entered mortuary science school in 2009 at Gutpon-Jones College of Funeral Service in Decatur, Ga.
Holt anticipates taking over the business after the retirement of her aunt, Morris Funeral Home’s current proprietor. Though she is following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, she has been guided by several other women in her education.
“The school Gupton-Jones that I went to in Georgia, the president is female,” Holt said. “She has her own funeral home with her husband jointly. One of my mentors who taught me chemistry and microbiology is female and a Gupton-Jones graduate too, so there are women out there.”
Holt is undaunted at the prospect of being one of few female morticians in the area.
“Most people, when they see me, they don’t see a mortician, and so I usually ask what a mortician looks like,” said Holt. “They go ‘Oh, well a middle-aged man.’ It’s definitely a conversation piece.”