Jack Spurgeon has another pin to add to his collection.
Having received pins for 25 and 50 years of service from the Indiana Funeral Directors Association in the past, the 82-year-old Brownstown man now has a third one — for 60 years.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
Andy Clayton, executive director/chief executive officer of the IFDA, traveled to Spurgeon Funeral Home in Brownstown on Oct. 20 to make the special presentation.
Clayton said presenting 50-year pins is more common than 60, 70 or 75.
“Being second generation, I can surely appreciate how proud you are to look at your family name on that building, how it went quick in some respects and long in others,” Clayton said to Spurgeon.
“What the world doesn’t realize about that little number is that 60 years represents caring for a community, and it came with no caveats,” he said. “You did it at 2 a.m., and you did it at 2 p.m. You did it on Thanksgiving. You did it when the sun was shining, when it was raining. You stood at a grave with parents who have lost a child. You stood with your own family as you’ve watched another generation pass.”
Sixty years represents a lifetime of commitment to his fellow man and is what God calls people to do, Clayton said.
“It’s a very rewarding business,” Spurgeon said.
Clayton considered it an honor to present the pin to Spurgeon.
“For me to have the opportunity to give this to you, being a fellow funeral director, being from a family of funeral directors, it’s pretty awesome,” Clayton said. “To be able to come down here and have you bust my chops for a little bit and present this to you to realize the milestone of your life, it really is a treat, so I hope you wear it with pride.”
Spurgeon assured Clayton he would do just that.
“Thank you very much. I appreciate it so very much you coming down,” Spurgeon said.
“Absolutely a treat,” Clayton said. “This was an honor for me. Tremendous legacy. You have much to be proud of, Jack. You’ve served your community. You’ve been faithful to your Lord and done what he calls us to do, which is care for one another.”
While he didn’t officially become a funeral director until 1960, Spurgeon said he was around the business as a young boy.
The family business was founded as Spurgeon and Son Funeral Home in 1913 in Kurtz by T.A. Spurgeon and his wife, Tessie. At the beginning, the business was in a building that housed a funeral home upstairs and a pool hall and soda fountain in the basement.
In 1928, T.A. was killed in a tragic train accident, and his sons, H. Jack and Emrole Spurgeon, took over.
H. Jack, who was Jack’s father, moved the funeral home to Brownstown in 1944 in a home along West Commerce Street that still stands today in front of Azteca Mexican Restaurant. His wife, Margaret, served as bookkeeper and secretary.
At that time, many visitations and funerals were conducted in family homes, and embalming sometimes was done in the home, too.
In 1956, the business moved to its current location at 206 E. Commerce St.
Jack graduated from Indiana College of Mortuary Science in Indianapolis in 1960. He said he chose to become a funeral director because he grew up in the business. He also spent time working for a bank and a warehouse and serving as an agent for Farm Bureau Insurance, each for 12 years.
Spurgeon Funeral Home became incorporated in 1976, a year before H. Jack died. Jack, Larry and Margaret then took over the family business.
“The thing, I guess, that drew us more to it was the fact that we tried our best here to be jovial, get some laughs. Larry and I both tormented a lot of people,” Jack said, smiling. “They appreciated that. When they came, they would laugh and carry on, and they would forget their problems. That’s the way we ran our business, and it worked out very, very well for us.”
After Margaret died in 1994, Jack and Larry became the funeral home’s owners.
Dwight Wischmeier joined as a funeral director in 2000, and Lisa Wischmeier started as an administrative assistant two years later.
Jack retired as a funeral director in 2013. Luke Nolting started working at the funeral home in 2015, finished mortuary school in 2017 and became a licensed funeral director after a yearlong internship.
Larry died in 2017, and his wife, Mary Sue Spurgeon, has remained involved in the business.
During his time as a funeral director, Jack said one of the biggest qualities he gained is leadership.
He organized the Brownstown Exchange Club in the 1960s and later ran for national president. Through that organization, he received Tennessee’s highest honor, Colonel Aide de Camp, and was named an honorary Texas citizen.
Locally, he also was president of the Watermelon Festival, involved in Boy Scouts and a member of Brownstown Christian Church and the Brownstown Jaycees.
Jack also was a former IFDA board of directors member and was named an Isaac Ball Fellow, which is given to someone who contributes to the Indiana Funeral Education Foundation. It’s named after the first president of the IFDA, and the endowment provides scholarships to mortuary science students.
“You name it, I was in it,” he said of his involvement outside the funeral home. “I think my biggest accomplishment would have been leadership. I learned a lot of leadership out of this business, how to lead people and how to deal with people.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Spurgeon Funeral Home Inc. is at 206 E. Commerce St., Brownstown.
For information, visit spurgeonfh.com or call 812-358-2252.