Oldest African-American operated business Celebrates 90 Years in business
Your Black World
In 1922, Millard E. Latimer and Son Funeral Directors, Inc., was proud to open it’s doors and serve their community. 90 years later, Monique Latimer is the proud owner of the business.
Latimer says that it has not always been easy running the family business, “I know the dues my in-laws paid. I know the dues my husband paid. You know people see where you are today, but they don’t see how you got there.”
Millard “Pop” Latimer Sr. was the first Black man to graduate from the Syracuse School of Embalming while simulaneously working for the railroad as a red cap.
“Pop” Latimer, Sr. started the business with his wife Lydia Latimer and were then later joined by their son Millard, Jr., who was said to have been hesitant because he wanted to be a dentist.
Even though Millard, Jr, was hesitant to join the family business at first, he ended up taking over from his father and becoming president.
The business which started on Clarissa St. has since grown and now moved to its current location on Plymouth Ave. Moving the business was not easy, said Latimer, “People didn’t want them in the neighborhood. It was an all Caucasian business at that time, so they didn’t want a Black family moving in.”
The family business moved in anyway and has provided valuable and needed service to the community since then.
A city resident, Patty Larkes, agrees saying “They have set a precedent. They have been a shining example of professionalism in the city.” Another resident, Yvonne Quinn-Flemming, said “They’ve always been there, very helpful and very careful.”
Said Latimer, “My mother always said treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. I think if you genuinely care about people, I think they feel it, they know it.” Monique Latimer, widow of Millard Latimer, Jr, has five children and three grand-children. She says so far, none of them are interested in taking over the business. Latimer says that not even bribery has worked.