In Focus With Fil
Hoschton, Ga. Funeral Home Prepares for Relocation
by Fil Jessee
Following a three-year search for a suitable building in formerly funeral homeless Hoschton and Braselton, Ga., veteran mortician James Lawson opened his Lawson Funeral Home in downtown Hoschton three years ago in June. Still located in the circa 1928 residence of Arthur DeLaperriere at 35 First Street, Lawson plans to relocate to a vacant former church in early 2013 to accommodate his steadily growing clientele. But helping families with final arrangements for their deceased loved ones is far from all he has done to endear himself to the local community.
Lawson loves people and it shows in both his professional and avocational activities. He’s an active member of the Braselton Rotary and West Jackson Lions clubs as well as the First Baptist Church of Hoschton, and routinely enjoys helping people with a variety of projects which run the gamut from annual Veterans Day events to a spooky Halloween celebration for The Village at Deaton Creek residents.
“We keep the official flags for each of the armed forces branches to honor deceased veterans, and provide these for parades and other patriotic events,” he said.
And just to show that even funeral directors can have a good sense of humor, Lawson also provided a genuine casket as requested by Lifestyle Director Mark LaClaire for a community Halloween party at the Village of Deaton Creek clubhouse.
“It was a dark pink metal sealer with velvet interior and carnations on the interior of the hinged head panel,” Lawson noted.
Perhaps that would have been appealing to Elvira or Morticia, but certainly not to Count Dracula or Frankenstein. But I suppose when one asks for such an uncommon party prop, he must be willing to take what he can get. On a less frivolous note, the Lawson Funeral home is a befitting reflection of its founder’s plain and simple tastes.
“My goal in establishing my business here is to bring the citizens of Hoschton, Braselton and surrounding areas a home-like setting with home town values. Unlike funerary mega-stores which present an almost confusing array of choices to the bereaved at one of the most difficult times in their lives, our simplification and comfortable home-like setting is designed to keep our customers at ease and confident that they have chosen to rely upon a compassionate, experienced and professional staff,” Lawson explained.
When visitors enter this funeral home, it is immediately apparent to them that this is indeed a home and not just a pricey packaging center for the final disposal of mortal remains. The interior is graced by hardwood floors, fireplace, turn-of-the-century light fixtures, and beautifully embossed crown molding.
The open floor plan with minimal doors provides comfortable space for mixing, mingling, and expressing condolences and an attractively draped alcove for with bier for placement of a casket. Present space is more than sufficient for smaller memorial services as well and, for larger ceremonies, two local church sanctuaries are available to Lawson’s customers.
“Because we are not a part of a larger corporate operation, the relative costs of what we offer our patrons are on the low side of standard rates. We are a local family owned and operated business and, consequently, can pass on the benefits of lower overhead to our customers. But regardless of an individual’s financial limitations, we will work with any reasonable fee to satisfy an individual’s needs,” Lawson said.
In addition to James Lawson, the funeral home’s present staff includes his wife, Carla, who serves as both general office manager and cosmetologist, and three additional part-time employees who work by assignment as needed. Cremations, graveside services, interstate preparation and transport of the diseased, memorial headstones and urns are all within the realm of the home’s range of services.
Lawson’s first became interested in choosing the funeral business as a career while still in high school in his home town of Sylvester, Georgia.
“My father knew the owner of a funeral home in Tifton and, through him, I had the opportunity to learn a lot about the business as his helper while still in high school,” he noted.
After high school graduation, Lawson attended Gupton-JonesMortuaryCollege in Atlanta before receiving his state licenses as embalmer and funeral director, respectively. He has since worked in this capacity for twelve and a half years with H. M. Patterson & Son, Oglethorpe Hill in Atlanta and, more recently, for a south HallCounty funeral home for eight years.
Proud of what he called quality “personal attention and caring for the families who place their trust in me,” Lawson noted that the funeral business has undergone a lot of changes in recent years.
“Today, there are more cremations than in years past, primarily because of the difference in cost between that and traditional burials. Cremations average $2,200 in price as compared to $7,220 to $7,400 for a standard visitation, funeral and burial package,” he pointed out.
And in terms of caution on the part of future customers, Lawson warned against dealing with funeral businesses that are unlicensed or run by less than reputable directors and embalmers.
“Preplanning funeral arrangements before specific needs arise is a very good thing because this practice nails down the price and fosters peace of mind. But beware of dealing with companies which encourage monthly installments in advance for direct deposit into their business accounts. We do not require money up front to assist families with preplanning and any monies received in advance are run through our insurance company for our customers’ long-term protection,” Lawson explained.
For further information on the services of Lawson Funeral Home, Hoschton, readers are invited to call (706) 654-0966 or to contact by email, http://www.lawsonfuneralhome.org.