Voices of Funeral Service, Baltimore

“I had to take care of the community; I had to take care of the dead.”

–Mr. Joseph H. Brown, III, CEO of Joseph H. Brown, Jr. Funeral Home

“It’s just what we do.”

–Mrs. Nadean Paige, 16-year Funeral Service Professional

                                        Founder of C.A.L.L.E.D.

African Americans in Baltimore have been engaged in the death trade by establishing livery stables, making coffins, and providing death care and proper last rites rituals since 1840.  Historical records indicate how these women and men were dedicated to ensuring excellent and efficient services rooted in cultural traditions and practices.  Caring for the dead meant caring for the community.  Locks, Hemsley, Brown, Elliott, Pye, Hooper are just some of Baltimore’s first Black families of funeral service.  These families were the leaders and economic engines in their communities.  The history of funeral service in Baltimore, right on up through COVID, is a continuous story of community uplift, civic service, and deep care and concern.  In interviewing death care workers at the Joseph H. Brown, Jr. and Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Homes, I learned that death care is a ministry, which means you are required to support, guide, and aid those in need.  Death care is selfless. 

~Dr. Kami Fletcher

Mr. Joseph H. Brown, III, Fourth-Generation Mortician and President of the Joseph H. Brown, Jr. Funeral Home.   October 14, 2022

Photo by Dr. Kami Fletcher

Mrs. Nadean Paige, Office Manager at Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Home located in Baltimore, MD & founder of C.A.L.L.E.D. (Communities Alive, Loving & Lifting Everyone Daily). At a community event sponsored by C.A.L.L.E.D.  in 2020.