McDonald Funeral Home approaching 100 years

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2016

FINAL REST: Stephen McDonald Jr. is the staff mortician at McDonald Funeral Home. The family-operated business has been serving the people of Picayune for the past 99 years. Here, he discusses one of the many caskets offered at the funeral home.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

FINAL REST: Stephen McDonald Jr. is the staff mortician at McDonald Funeral Home. The family-operated business has been serving the people of Picayune for the past 99 years. Here, he discusses one of the many caskets offered at the funeral home.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

For the past 99 years, the McDonald family of Picayune has helped hundreds of families cope with the deaths of their beloved mothers, fathers and children.
Staff at McDonald Funeral Home provide supportive services from the time of death to interment.
Claiborne McDonald Sr. founded the funeral home in 1917 and since that time, the business has been owned and operated by the generations that followed.
Current owner Stephen McDonald Sr. said his grandfather worked as an accountant for a large lumber mill in Lumberton prior to opening the funeral home. He moved to Picayune with his wife Helen and their three children and started a furniture business selling stoves, caskets and other items for burial.
Claiborne McDonald Sr. built the first structure for the funeral home on Rester Street in downtown Picayune. The building, which is now home to Mickle’s Pickles, is the last standing structure from the original funeral home.
“He was a businessman and saw a need for those services,” Stephen McDonald Sr. said. “His father was a circuit riding Methodist minister and he used his relationship to that church to also help people at the same time.”
After his death in 1967, Stephen McDonald Sr.’s father Claiborne McDonald III and his brother Tom operated the funeral home until Tom McDonald retired in the mid-1970s and Claiborne McDonald III’s death in 1979.
At that time, Stephen McDonald Sr., his mother Edith and his brother Claiborne “Buddy” McDonald IV assumed ownership of the funeral home.
His mother passed away in 2008 and Stephen McDonald Sr., and his wife Ann have operated the funeral home since.
Two of their sons, Stephen McDonald Jr. and Kenny McDonald also work at the business, making them the fourth generation to do so.
“We’re very proud of both of them, they’ve done very good,” Stephen McDonald Sr. said. “Ann is a major force in keeping this business going. I give her all the credit. She would never have guessed she would work in a funeral home, but she is a perfect fit for it. She keeps all three of us straight as well.”
McDonald Funeral Home staff also includes Monica Bowles, Kerri Mitchell, Dale Roach, Roy Golden, Maegan Veazey, Linda Gerber and Ann Burke, which Stephen McDonald Sr. said are just like family members. He said they are blessed to have a wonderful group of people working for them.
For more than 50 years, Mary and Ray Palmer and Reggie Palmer worked for the McDonald family. Mary and Ray retired earlier this year and Reggie Palmer, who had also retired, died last month.
“I grew up going into the old funeral home visiting them,” Stephen McDonald Sr. said. “She was always here. Our kids grew up in the funeral home and knew all those people real well.”
Stephen McDonald Sr. said the funeral home has many people who help out in an auxiliary fashion from time to time. They are a Godsend; assisting with funeral services, removal services and transport services. They are Ron Spencer, Carl Hebert, Martin Gaal, Billy Sheffield, James Drewery and Randy and Chevy Burge and are just a phone call away.
“It’s a 24-hour business and we try our best to have services when people want them to the best of our ability,” Stephen McDonald Sr. said.
There are many types of funeral services offered at McDonald Funeral Home including cremation, pre-need and pre-paid funeral plans. Roach specializes in helping families receive veterans’ benefits.
When someone dies, the funeral home is notified and a member of the staff is sent to remove the body, Stephen McDonald Sr., said. The next day, the family meets with staff to make arrangements. They meet with Ann McDonald or Kerri Mitchell.
“They take families through the process step-by-step,” Stephen McDonald Sr. said. “That includes the type, location and times and date of service and information for the obituary, which is printed in the newspaper and on our website. We also contact the cemeteries to have graves opened and closed. We also make contact with the churches, insurance companies and Social Security representatives.”
Stephen McDonald Jr. is the staff mortician and he said taking care of the deceased is one of the nicest things he can provide for them.
“He’s a very good embalmer,” Stephen McDonald Sr. said. “He does a very good job at helping ease people’s last viewing of their loved one. It’s an emotional job. Growing up here, we know so many of these people.”
Kenny McDonald never meets a stranger, Stephen McDonald Sr. said of his son. Kenny McDonald works with families to plan funerals and preparing things for the services.
The McDonalds offer a broad selection of caskets ranging in price from $2,000 to $6,000 and made from hardwood, stainless steel or copper. The sizes range from standard and oversized to children’s size. Concrete vaults are also offered.
Although cremation is performed offsite, family members can choose their loved one’s final resting place from one of the many keepsake urns offered at McDonald Funeral Home.
Caskets and keepsake urns can also be personalized, Stephen McDonald Sr. said.
“We also like to encourage people to pre-arrange their services and put it in writing so their family knows what they want,” Stephen McDonald Sr. said. “If they prepay, the prices are frozen. Nowadays, it’s good for people to know what their loved one wanted.”
McDonald Funeral Home is located at 401 West Canal St. Contact staff members at 601-798-1212.
For more information about McDonald Funeral Home, visit the website at and through Facebook at McDonald Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
“We are very interested in carrying out the wishes of the families we serve and will do anything we can to do that,” Stephen McDonald Sr. said.

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