Funeral service equals dream come true for Fulton native

Crystal Morris (second from right) joins the team at Maupin Funeral Home to complete her funeral director apprenticeship. The Maupin team includes (left back) James Wagoner, pre-need agent; Lisa Wagoner, office manager; (front left) Melody Craighead, funeral director; and (far right) Derek Ebersole, funeral director.

Crystal Morris (second from right) joins the team at Maupin Funeral Home to complete her funeral director apprenticeship. The Maupin team includes (left back) James Wagoner, pre-need agent; Lisa Wagoner, office manager; (front left) Melody Craighead, funeral director; and (far right) Derek Ebersole, funeral director. Photo by Mandi Steele.

It certainly isn’t every little girl’s dream.

Preparing dead bodies for a wake, making graveside arrangements, being surrounded by grieving families, it’s all a part of a funeral home director’s job. And for Crystal Morris, it’s been her dream position ever since she was 6 years old.

Morris grew up in Fulton next door to Green Funeral Home owned by George Green. Green was an African-American funeral home director and Morris’ role model. When Charles Braxton, Morris’ father, used to help Green prepare the bodies, 6-year-old Morris would watch, fascinated.

“Mr. Green was a wonderful man, the way he handled the families. I just admired, just respected him,” Morris said.

Now 39, Morris’ dream of becoming a funeral home director may finally be within reach. On June 10 she officially started her funeral home director apprenticeship under the guidance of Melody (Maupin) Craighead and Derek Ebersole, directors of Maupin Funeral Home.

Craighead said it can be difficult to find an apprenticeship — a year-long position that once completed requires a state board exam for certification.

“She’s had this aspiration since she was a young child,” Craighead said. “We felt like she was a good candidate and wanted to support her in that endeavor.”

Ebersole has known Morris for years. They were in the same graduating class from Fulton High School. Ebersole said Morris’ compassionate personality and background in nursing make her a good fit to work at a funeral home.

As an apprentice, Morris will have all the same responsibilities as a director — meeting with families to make arrangements, supervising the visitation and funeral services, and seeing the whole process through from start to finish. Craighead explained that directors are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week year-round. Morris said she is eager to take on the responsibility and “be there for the family.”

Craighead said though a director’s job can be stressful, it also has its benefits.

“When you help a family when they’re at their worst, it’s very rewarding when they say thank you for everything you’ve done,” she said.

A native Callawegian, Morris said she would like to work as a funeral home director in Callaway if possible. She worked as a nurse at Fulton State Hospital for 12 years, receiving her LPN license in 1994 and RN license in 2007. Along with her position at Maupin, she also works as nurse at the Hope Center in Fulton. She’s married to Robby Morris and the couple has three children and one grandchild.

Morris is looking forward to her new career in funeral service. She joined the 100 Black Women of Funeral Service, Inc., a networking group for black women and minorities who have chosen funeral service for a profession. The group invited Morris to the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association conference in Atlanta, which she will attend in August.

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