Today’s Female Funeral Professional (known from here on out as FFP, you try saying that three times real fast!) spotlight is on Cheryl Thompson-Morrow with Thompson Funeral Home. Thompson Funeral Home is one of five other funeral homes in a two mile area in Boardman, OH., close to Youngstown.
Cheryl’s grandfather Clifford L. Thompson, started the firm in 1932. Cheryl hadn’t really considered entering the family business and her father, Clifford L. Thompson, Jr., who worked at the funeral home didn’t exactly encourage it. Why? Because it was a man’s world. But as Cliff Jr.’s health began to deteriorate, and when it became clear that his son would choose a different career path, Cheryl’s dad did notice that more women were entering the field of funeral service and maybe Cheryl, who was taking classes in the medical field, might be his future.
He told her that if she planned to go to mortuary school, she’d better get on it. This was the 80’s and Cheryl was trying to figure out what she was going to do with her life. She was working as a medical assistant and funeral service seemed like a good fit with her background, so she went to mortuary school, not realizing that within a few short years, she’d be running the business. In 1989, Cheryl graduated from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, and did her internship with her dad, a “difficult transition”, for the young girl and her father who was handing over a Life’s Work to his…daughter.
“That was tough”, she said. “He continued to work at the funeral home, even in declining health, he was there everyday.”
And then, one day, he said the magic words, “Whatever you think, Cheryl.” The turning point. He died shortly after at age 60 in 1997.
Next: Part Two with Cheryl Thompson-Morrow.