Rochester, N.Y. – 90 years in the making.
In 1922, Millard E. Latimer and Son Funeral Directors, Inc. opened for business.
Monique Latimer owns that business today. She says running the family business wasn't always easy.
“I know the dues my in-laws paid. I know the dues my husband paid,” Latimer said. “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.
At the same time, he worked as a red cap for the railroad.
Together, he and his wife, Lydia Latimer, started their business on Clarissa St.
Eventually, they were joined by their son, Millard, Jr.
“[Millard, Jr.] really didn't want to," Latimer said. "He wanted to be a dentist."
But Millard, Jr took over his father's business, becoming president.
The business grew and moved to its current location on Plymouth Ave. That move met some resistance.
“People didn't want them in the neighborhood," Latimer said. "It was an all Caucasian business at that time, so they didn't want a black family moving in.”
But move in they did, providing a service that stood out in the community, caring for families during their time of need.
“They have set a precedent," says city resident Patty Larkes. "They have been a shining example of professionalism in the city."
“They've always been there, very helpful and very careful,” said resident Yvonne Quinn-Flemming.
“My mother always said treat everyone the way you would want to be treated," Latimer said. "I think if you genuinely care about people, I think they feel it, they know it."
But will they know it 90 years from today? “I've been hoping and praying that they would,” Latimer says.
Monique Latimer and her late husband, Millard Latimer, Jr, have five children and three grandchildren. She says so far, they've expressed little interest in taking over the business; Latimer says they even tried bribing them.
So far there are no takers, at least not yet.