ANYONE WHO has lived in Fayetteville knows Higgins Funeral Home. Sadly, many of us have said goodbye to loved ones inside those walls. While it’s hard, the Higgins family is there for ours. Families all over the area get the respect and care they deserve in the time of the passing of a loved one. The cornerstone of Fayetteville is its local business owners and workers, generation after generation of them. When we say “Shop Local,” it should include family businesses that have helped these generations for over a century. Supporting Higgins fulfills that mission as much as shopping with any local merchant.
With passing comes respect and an appreciation for the lives of our loved ones. We place our respects and our flowers at their final resting place. We have several options of local businesses that can care for us and help us during this time, but that was not always the case. Fayetteville finally had its very own business to help families more than 100 years ago in 1903. Higgins Brothers Furniture and Undertaking opened on January 1, 1903. We know Higgins Funeral Home and its service, but before 1903, the options were none.
Embalming, if requested, was done in the home, a practice that became more widely known and used following the death of President Abraham Lincoln. Families had to place the deceased in the home where family and friends would call to comfort the bereaved family. Funerals were conducted in the community church, much like we experience today.
In 1931, brothers Hiram, Eugene, and Owen Higgins sold their furniture company and opened Fayetteville’s first official funeral home at 213 East Market Street. Philip Higgins followed in the footsteps of his father, Hiram, and his uncles when he joined them as a funeral director and embalmer that same year. Charles Higgins began serving the public with his family in 1972, and in 2001, Charles’s son, Clay, became the fourth generation Higgins at Higgins Funeral Home.
You need strong emotional intelligence and the spirit of a therapist to be in this line of work. Charles Higgins said that while the job can be challenging, it is more about being there for the family.
“I find sitting across from someone who has lost a loved one both challenging and rewarding at the same time,” Charles said. “You want to guide them in a way that is best for their family. I find it most difficult when there is a sudden loss where preplanning or that important conversation with the loved one hasn’t taken place. Caring for bereaved families is certainly a ministry, and the team we have built at Higgins works together to provide a knowledgeable and compassionate environment. If we are able to help them through a dark time in their life, it makes it easier to focus on the rewards rather than the challenges.”
Like the firm’s staff, the services offered by the company have grown through the years.
Motor-driven hearses doubled as ambulances until the Lincoln County Ambulance Service was established in 1972. The original funeral home, the Holman home, built in 1912, underwent renovations and modernizations, but the home was tragically destroyed by fire in 1986. Still, the level of service and the Higgins family’s commitment to the community was steadfast, just as it is today.
Higgins Cedar Hills Memorial Gardens is the peaceful, final resting place for many loved ones today. The gardens offer cemetery plots, family estates, the Garden of Honor for veterans, and a columbarium for the lasting permanent home for cremated remains. Charles Higgins said it is another way for them to help our community and honor loved ones.
It’s a community loved by all of the Higgins family.
Charles said, “Being able to serve and work in my hometown has been a true blessing. My wife, Suzanne, taught kindergarten for 25 years, and we were able to raise our children, Laura and Clay, in a close-knit community. The legacy established by my father, grandfather, and others in my family made it easy for me to continue to build relationships in the community. Serving generations of families through funeral service connects you to them in a very meaningful way. GN