Rutledge & Bigham commemorates 96 years of community service
Pictured (from left) are David Moton Jr., Louise Bigham Moton and Bernardeane H. Moton.
BY BRIDGETT NESBIT
Mary B. Bigham Memorial Chapel was packed on Sunday as folks paid their respects to the legacy of those they love.
The annual event is part of Rutledge and Bigham Mortuary's celebration of 96 years of service in the community.
“Through the years our services have touched the lives of countless residents in Statesville, Iredell County and surrounding residents,” said Bernardeane H. Moton, long-time director at the funeral home. “We sincerely hope that our impression has been and will continue to be one of the sensitive, courteous and caring individuals serving our community.”
In the past year, the funeral home has provided services for 206 people who have passed away.
Rev. Reginald M. Keitt, pastor of Mt. Pleasant A.M.E. Zion Church, led a prayer for those still dealing with loss. Bishop Wilford Walls, pastor of Bethlehem Holiness Church read invocation.
Keitt spoke about death being a natural part of life, sharing scriptures promising those left behind that they will be reunited with their loved ones.
Dr. Lonnie E. Gray, pastor at First Resurrection Church, gave words of comfort to the crowd before a candle-lighting ceremony.
“God will be with you every step of the way,” Gray said.
Christopher “Skip” McCall, chairperson of the Rutledge and Bigham scholarship committee, along with William M. Jones and Vermel D. Moore, awarded A’Yonna Nicole Waddell with the Rutledge Memorial Scholarship and Charlie Wendell Grinton Jr. received the Charles Warner Brown Higher Learning scholarship.
Moton, who was recently awarded professional of the year by the N.C. Association of Funeral Directors and Morticians, thanked the community for allowing Rutledge & Bigham to be part of their families.
"We may cry for years. Sometimes it feels like it’s never going to end, but it’s okay to cry,” Moton said. “Jesus also wept.”
Briana Parker said that both the funeral home and Moton are mainstays in the community, and that they showed her family genuine compassion during their times of loss.
“She was priceless to our family and the funeral home is a huge part of our community because they give back in scholarships,” Parker said.
A HISTORY OF SERVICE
St. Charles Rutledge and Gadson G. Bigham opened the funeral home's doors on June 22, 1922.
Following Bigham's death in 1934, his wife Mary, became a partner. She continued to operate the business after Rutledge suffered a stroke.
Gadson Bigham Jr. took on key roles in the business, but he passed away in 1961. St. Charles Rutledge passed in 1963.
Mary Bigham would take full control at that time, facing the challenges of running a business and taking care of her family. When she passed away in 1980, Margaret B. Booker, Charles W. Brown and Louise B. Moton became co-owners.
“The faith and vision of the two men, Rutledge and Bigham, started in 1922, has remained and now 96 years later this family-owned business still operates in the community,” Moton said.
Crystal Brown remember attending services at the funeral home in the 1960s, when she was a child.
“They are a fixture in the community, we look to them in times of loss and they always embrace us with love,” she said. “When I lost my parents, I only needed to make the call, Berdnardeane took care of everything and honored our wishes.
Louise Bigham Moton said she’s been honored to continue the legacy.
“As the daughter of the founder, I just want to thank everyone for continuing to patronize Rutledge and Bigham."
The family owned business honored those that passed the baton. The following is a list of past staff: Gadson Bigham, St. Charles Rutledge, Mary B. Bigham, Marie Rutledge, Gadson Bigham Jr., Margaret Booker, Charles W. Brown, Irvin Chambers, Harvey Lee Tomlin, Atchley Smith, Norwood Littlejohn, Benjamin Gibbs, James Patterson, Tommy Carson, Jerry Bostic, Helen Floyd, Flake Huggins Sr., Roxie Lazenby, Howard Irvis, James ‘Sonny’ Scott, Alfonzo Satterfield, Phyllis A. Jackson, Carter Sharpe, John C. Scott, David Lee Lawrence, Clorine Lindsay and Joann Phifer.
GIVING BACK: FUNERAL HOME AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS
Other scholarship recipients included: Jamie Adams, Pevas Bailey, Andrea Caldwell, Africa Dalton, Derrick Davidson, Annette Hardy, Alvera Lesane, Danielle Lowery, Tamikka Matthews, Philip J. Moton, Andre Ramseur, Leslie Stevenson, Latoya Thompson, LaMonica Edmonds, Rashad Anthony, Beseemah ElAmin, Desiree Feniti, Kara Fletcher, Dante J. Jones, Ortega Tatum, Jasmine Morris, Dimishi H. Long, Kalan Breann Thompson, Louise Davidson Learson, Kaitlyn J. Ingram, Greyland Steele, Calvin L. Easter, Jr., Shelby L. Keaton, Shannon J. Boller, Rev. Willie M. Williams, Rickiya L. Sharpe, Christopher Daniels, Keyonte Easter, Chantelle Davidson, Michael Triston Fisher, Roneisha O’Neal Wilkins, Erin Nicole, Tesoriero, Leondra Sherille Pridgen, Gabrielle Aishah Keaton, Stephanie Jones, Jalyn Martin and Kaitlyn Ingram.