April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Business profile - Norman Funeral Home

By By Jennifer [email protected]

The Norman Funeral Home has been a staple of the Hope downtown community for more than 100 years. Recently, co-owner Suzie Norman and her daughter, Ashley Loyd, talked briefly about the business, the rapport they have with the community, and what it's like for Ashley, the fifth generation and first female funeral director, to take over her father and grandfather's role.

What does it mean to you, Suzie, to have a business that is such a fixture for the Hope community?

Since Hope is a very small community, it just keeps another business in Hope. For us, it keeps us in business as one of the oldest businesses in the county and state. It is something to be proud of that it has kept going and the Normans have given compassionate and honest service to the people over the years. I think people have a lot of trust in us. We have a very good reputation.

Suzie, how important is the role of family in the business?

A big role. As a family-owned business we haven't had anyone else work for us other than part-time people. It is your business, so you want it to go as well as it can. About a year ago, Ashley became the fifth generation following her father, John. After his death in 2013, we never missed a beat. We miss him dearly though.

Ashley, how would you describe the role of family in the business and the rapport the Normans have built with the Hope community?

I think that my dad and grandpa both became close with all the families we serve. They did funerals for many different generations, and now I'm serving the next generation of those families. I'm starting to get to know the families and feeling close to them.

How does it feel to be carrying on the family business, Ashley?

I think it is an honor and proud to be a female that is part of a family business.

Is there any added pressure being one of the few female funeral directors in the area, and possibly the state?

It does, because it used to be a majority of men. I know this community has always been dealing with male funeral directors. I'm sure it's a little different for some people to get used to. But I think the community and everyone has been very accepting of it.

Are there any unique facts you can offer about the business that the public may not be aware of?

The business has been here in the same building since 1880. It started out as a furniture store that made chairs to rent out for funerals when they were held in homes. When they wanted to stop having funerals in homes, there was a need for a location to have the funerals. Furniture stores kind of transitioned - made caskets as well.

Where do you see the business going in the coming years, Ashley?

Funerals are becoming more personalized to the deceased and oftentimes incorporate their interests and hobbies. We have also talked about offering grief groups for those who have lost a loved one.

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