Black-Owned Funeral Home Celebrates 100 Years in Business

JW Woodward Funeral home, oldest Black-owned funeral home
Kay Woodward, current president of the 100-year old family-owned company

Five generations have worked at the J. W. Woodward Funeral Home in Spartanburg, South Carolina since it's beginning 100 years ago. They are not only celebrating their 100th year in business, but they have the distinction of being the oldest black family-owned business in Spartanburg.

"The Home That Service Built"

The business began in 1916 when John Woodward started a local mortuary for citizens of color. The company's slogan is "The Home That Service Built," which represents what they have been doing best for 100 years. For the first 50 years, they not only offered funeral services but also additional services that were often needed by the black community, such as loans, ambulance services, and even a laundromat.

Family and dedicated employees have supported the business through the years; many have a record of 50-60 years at the funeral home. Today, Kay Woodward continues to serve as President and owner of the mortuary. Kay's daughter, Stinson Ferguson, joined the family business full-time after leaving a private law firm in 2015. Kay's son, James Cleveland Ferguson, Jr., has also been in the family business since 2005.

A history of caring

The Woodward family feels today like they did 100 years ago -- blessed to be in a business where they help people through a difficult time of loss. As Kay's daughter describes it, “Both my father and grandfather had a spirit of service and care and concern for the needs that were not being met in the community and those were extensive.”

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