Carlton L. Gray Funeral Services

Marissa Dick | September 18th, 2017
Carlton L. Gray and wife (Photos by Jerry Barbry)

Carlton L. Gray and wife (Photos by Jerry Barbry)

Genesis 3:19 says, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” It’s the returning to dust portion where funeral directors can ease this transition by acknowledging the emotional wellbeing of the bereaved and by providing the family with a professional presentation of their loved one’s remains. Meet Mr. Gray, owner and operator of Carlton L. Gray Funeral and Cremation Services. Established since 2004 he and his staff are well known throughout the Wake County and Raleigh Durham area for providing quality death care services. Their reputation even extends to international and national borders.

Discussions of death can be a daunting task, but it is a discussion that Mr. Gray has been anointed to have. From the tender age of six he knew that God had planted a seed inside of him to provide care for the dearly departed. A seed that his grandfather saw fit to water with great pride. According to Mr. Gray, “I became involved in the death care industry because I grew up around it. My grandfather was a grave digger, a laborer, in my home town and I spent a lot of time with him. As far as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a mortician and own my own funeral home.” Mr. Gray is thankful that he never forgot his grandfather’s words of wisdom stressing the importance of him receiving an education in the field. His grandfather said, “Son, if you do decide to do this make sure you go to school and get a license so you can go further than me.” It was watching his grandfather’s spirit of excellence and humble servitude that solidified his respect for the death care industry.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 states, “The race is not given to the swift nor the strong but he who endures until the end.” This is what Mr. Gray did – – endured. Once he graduated from high school Carlton’s goals were to join the military, attend mortuary school, and eventually have his own funeral business. Upon retiring from the US Army he attended John Tyler Community College in Petersburg, Virginia where he graduated with a degree in funeral services. From there he worked at Joseph M. Johnson Funeral Home in McKenny, Virginia for a short period. Mr. Gray credits his time working under William Toney’s Funeral Homes of Spring Hope and Zebulon, North Carolina for affording him the opportunity to gain tremendous experience in serving in the death care industry. Reflecting back on attaining his goals, Mr. Gray chuckles of the times when having his own business was merely a dream. He shares, “You know most funeral directors or morticians have a story very similar to mine. Growing up I played funeral a lot. I remember embalming all of the baby dolls I could get my hands on, digging a grave in the back yard, then burying them. I would have a service and use the kids in my family and in the neighborhood as the bereaved family and of course, I was the funeral director.” He is grateful that his persistence and steadfastness has come full circle.

So, why would a family seek Carlton L. Gray Funeral and Crematory Services as the ideal business to handle their loved ones transition from this earthly world to the next? Mr. Gray is confident that it’s because of the individualized and genuine care that he and his staff provide to each family. He also believes that his services stand out from the rest of the other funeral homes in the area because they provide traditional and alternative services as well as offer international and national shipping of human remains. They have extensive experience in sending ones beloved remains to all parts of the world like Africa and South America. Additionally, they are knowledgeable about international policy and procedures and cultural customs. Mr. Gray also believes that their business is growing through word of mouth because they help their families make wise decisions as far as choosing different options.

His patrons often tell him that once everything is over the family has peace of mind that their loved one has received quality care. Mr. Gray shares that he and his staff literally treat the families who enter their doors as though it could be someone in their own family. He says, “We all have to remember that person lying there is somebody’s wife, somebody’s husband, somebody’s mother, somebody’s father, somebody’s daughter or son and you have to treat that deceased person as though they are the most valuable person you’ve ever had and that’s something we do every time.” The funeral home provides a variety of resources that extend from your basic funeral etiquette to grief counseling and advance planning.

Another benefit of seeking Carlton L. Gray Funeral and Crematory Services would be to gain advice about resources that are available to veterans. With Mr. Gray being a veteran, he has intricate knowledge about completing the required forms so veterans can take full advantage of their death care benefits from burials to markers to receiving additional monies that a family may be entitled too. He says, “All honorable discharged veterans are entitled to a flag, monument, and a burial space in a Federal or State owned veterans cemetery. Some veterans may even be entitled to more monetary benefits depending on their status.” Mr. Gray encourages all veterans to locate their discharge papers so when that time comes their loved one knows exactly where to look for that information. He believes knowledge is power and knowing where to find information relieves half that financial stress and worry from the family. He and his staff also assist with completing Social Security benefit forms.

Mr. Gray is painfully aware that when anyone is calling upon his services that “they’re probably experiencing the worst day of their life.” Far too often families don’t know what to do or understand how to handle funeral arrangements. The one thing Mr. Gray would like to impress upon those reading this article is for anyone who is the head of their family, the bread winner, or a single parent is to have insurance and maintain it. He says, “No one has any control over death. So it’s important to plan for this day. We plan for all of these other life events like birthday parties, a graduation and a wedding and we insure the things that we value like our homes and our cars. We need to insure our lives so when we leave here we can be assured that our loved ones aren’t going to be in debt behind our untimely departure.” Mr. Gray stresses the importance of leaving your children and grandchildren a legacy by maintaining an insurance policy. As he explains it, “Yes they’re going to miss you when you’re gone, but if you can leave them enough money to burry you and leave them enough money to go to college or enough to start a business of their own then just think how much more they would appreciate you knowing that you had the foresight to think about bettering their future.” Mr. Gray wanted to share that purchasing insurance is very inexpensive and anyone can go to their local funeral home to acquire a policy.

Carlton L. Gray Funeral and Crematory Services is one of the first African American owned funeral homes to build and own their own crematory in North Carolina. He is hopeful that his children will carry on the legacy of the business. Mr. Gray acknowledges that we are living in a globalized world where a lot of inquiries and transactions are taking place through the Internet. He says, “You know we live in such a transient world and because of the Internet you don’t really have to go to a brick and mortar facility. We have a lot of inquiries and we communicate through the internet. I see our cremation services growing more and more. I think that’s the wave of the future and I’m glad that we’re able to accommodate those that desire that type of service.” Mr. Gray is humbled by his patrons continued support and shows his appreciation by giving an Annual Remembrance Service for all families who have lost loved ones during the year. He recognizes that, “they can easily go anyplace else but they chose us and we don’t take it for granted. … We try to serve all of our families with the utmost professional service every time.”

Carlton L. Gray Funeral and Crematory Services is a 6,600 square foot funeral home and crematory facility located at 2810 Kidd Road, Raleigh, North Carolina. They are licensed by the National Board of Funeral Directors, the North Carolina Board of Funeral Services, the Funeral Director and Embalmer Association, and they are also an authorized insurance agent. Mr. Gray and his staff are on call 24/7 365 days a year; however, their hours of operation for their physical location are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Call them or visit their website today to learn more about their quality funeral and cremation services and affordable pricing.

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