Special to Fayette Newspapers
After 55 years faithfully serving Fayette County and surrounding areas, Carl J. Mowell & Son Funeral Home has completed its cremation center and announces its name change in conjunction with the expansion. Effective July 1, Carl J. Mowell & Son Funeral Home will become Mowell Funeral Home and Cremation Service.
Mowell Funeral Home and Cremation Service, with its on-site, state-of-the art cremation facility, will honor its own tradition of offering personal, professional care that serves the needs of the community as those traditions evolve. The name change may seem insignificant because locally Carl J. Mowell & Son has always been called “Mowell Funeral Home’ (as per the sign out front and the way the telephone was answered), but to the Mowell family, the name change represents public acknowledgement of what they have known since the beginning.
The funeral home opened in 1964 as Carl J. Mowell & Son Funeral Home by Carl J. Mowell, a local clergyman, and the son, his youngest child, C. J. (Carl Jackson Mowell, Jr.). Carl possessed the local name recognition and the capital, and C. J. held the licenses and the dream of operating his own funeral home. There was already a funeral home in Fayetteville, but C. J. and his new wife, Faye, moved into the upstairs floor of a historic home on Jeff Davis Drive and installed a sign out front, “Mowell Funeral Home.” C. J.’s parents lived in the duplex next door, and Carl eventually became a licensed funeral director, serving his apprenticeship under the mentorship of C. J.
Faye’s parents moved to Fayetteville in the 1970’s, by which time four children were also inhabiting the “home” upstairs, so the funeral home was constantly occupied by grandparents who were there to support C. J. and Faye, the grandchildren, and the business – in that order. The cultural tradition of an entire family working together towards the benefit of each other manifested right before the eyes of the children. In its first year of business, Carl J. Mowell & Son handled two funerals, and one was a relative of Faye. The next year they managed seven, then 11, and it grew upon itself every year in succession. The funeral home was in business for 11 years before they handled his first cremation case.
C. J. practiced his work much like his father, to serve his Lord through serving his community. He made relationships amid making funeral arrangements. He earned the reputation among colleagues as a talented and meticulous funeral director.
C. J. was appointed Fayette County Coroner in 1966; then he was re-elected until he retired in 2016 after 50 years of service. He and Faye faithfully attended Fayetteville First Baptist Church, and he joined the local Masonic Lodge #711, the Jaycees, and the Rotary Club. He provided ambulance service – transportation of live patients in distress to the hospital in a vehicle equipped to transport a medical cot. Coincidently, he and a small group of volunteers established Fayette County’s EMS service. C. J. used his “flower van” to haul fruit baskets to all of the next of kin he had served the year before, and he used it to haul 20-plus carolers on Christmas Eve to familiar homes in the area, brightening the lives of the carolers as much as the listeners.
Prior to the construction of the funeral home chapel in 1979, low-profile wooden chairs were unfolded and aligned in the L-shaped room configuration to seat only a modest crowd for a service in the funeral home. Jeff Davis Drive was the site for the alignment and assembly for the local parades: Opening Day of Fayette County Rec Baseball and Football, FCHS Tigers’ Season-Opening and Homecoming Parades. As folks parked their vehicles in the gravel funeral home parking lot, C. J. taught his two sons, Ferrell and David, the lesson that it is wiser to extend goodwill to the community and invite them to use our lot as if it were their own, rather than to charge a “parking fee.”
Jeff Davis Drive had so few cars on it that every fall, the leaves that fell in the front yard were raked to the shoulder at the road and burned. In the 1980’s when the ownership of the local perpetual care cemeteries were forced by the state to give up ownership, C. J. partnered with a colleague to purchase them and founded WCS Properties. In 1995, he opened Carl J. Mowell & Son Funeral Home in Peachtree City, a funeral home in which he chose the property, the architect, and the floor design.
As Carl J. Mowell and Son transitions to Mowell Funeral Home and Cremation Service, a sort of destiny is ultimately realized. Known since its origin in the community as “Mowell’s” or “Mowell Funeral Home,” Carl J. Mowell & Son, the title, existed only in print. In reality, it was the son who dreamed the dream, not Carl J Mowell. It was the son who characterized the discipline, the compassion, the attitude of service within the business. C. J. eventually bought out Carl’s interest, and following Carl’s death in 1984, a running joke was that if a caller asked for Carl, you knew he didn’t know C. J.
At some point, all of Mowell children have worked in or around the funeral home, and David’s commitment to the business has remained constant. Today, David, a product of Fayetteville First Baptist Church, the Fayette County School System, and University of Georgia, manages the funeral homes, and he knows from where the business originated and has helped maintain the Mowell vision of service for over 30 years. It was David who presented to City Hall in an effort to approve the crematory construction, and he developed the vision of changing the name of the company to one that is closer to its true identity while sustaining its tradition. Both of his sons have worked at the funeral home, continuing the tradition of “Our Family serving Your Family”. He has earned the respect of the community in which he grew up and leads the way with an intuitiveness to keep the funeral home in line with its developing traditions. Most importantly he has earned the respect of his father, C. J., with whom David discusses with, and gets approval for, all major decisions, including such as a name change.