ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Latimer Funeral Home is celebrating its centennial anniversary as Rochester’s longest-established African American business.
The Latimer Funeral Home has been serving families during their most difficult times since 1922. Funeral Director and CEO Monique Latimer describe her father-in-law as a trailblazer; it’s a characteristic she embodies, just the same.
100 years ago, the Latimer Funeral Home was established by Millard Latimer. A groundbreaker from the start, he was the first African American to graduate from Simmons School of Embalming in Syracuse.
The journey to building this business is a story of dedication and perseverance.
“These men had two jobs to be able to do the things they want to do as far as opening this business. Pop Latimer worked as a bellman for the train station in Rochester. My husband worked at the post office in the evenings. So people don’t realize how you accomplish what you accomplish and the hard work,” Monique said, describing her father-in-law and late husband, Millard Latimer, Jr.
When Monique got married, she explained she had her high school GED but decided to dive into the business for herself. A mother of five children, her resiliency is evident, breaking more glass ceilings to continue the family-owned operation.
“I decided to go [to school] and, when I went to MCC to take some courses, I needed to get into embalming school, one professor said to me ‘You’ve been out of school too long. You’re not going to do this.’ I’m going like, ‘Oh really? You just have to watch me,” Monique said.
And she did just that, at the top of her class too.
“It shows stamina and a dedication to the community and to families that we serve and what is possible because I think a lot of kids growing up now don’t necessarily see that, see that you can have your own business and you can pass it on to your family and you can thrive,” said Millena Latimer, Monique’s youngest child, who is the Executive Assistant and Office Manager.
Latimer Funeral Home will be holding a free Centennial Community Healing & Wellness Fair on Saturday, August 13th from 12:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. There will be a range of resources available to the community from massages, representatives from organizations, Reiki, and more.