It’s been three months since Whitney Houston’s funeral, but there was something about the way it was done that everyone remembers. Watching such a high profile funeral take place at home; back in the neighborhood where it all started with little to no controversy. Even with every star imaginable showing up for the funeral, the security was flawless. The traffic after the service appeared to flow and the day was simply classic. So who was behind this seemingly effortless production?
Carolyn Whigham, 63, does everything she can to make sure the deceased is honored with respect and class. The New Jersey funeral home director made sure that Whitney Houston’s funeral was elegant and secure. She is a no nonsense woman who is known to lay her clients away like kings and queens whether they are celebrities or not.
Whigham pays attention to detail and takes the family business seriously. Her dad, Charles Whigham, left the 69-year old business in her hands in 1986, knowing that she would do his legacy proud. Her father was a well-respected man in the community, who not only had his own funeral home, but founded the first African American owned bank in New Jersey, City National Bank.
And Carolyn does not disappoint. She makes sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” crossed when she performs a service. She is known for running a tight ship, even if that means firing someone during the funeral. According to NJ.com:
“She once stopped a funeral procession she was leading to can a limousine driver who kept breaking the single-line car formation. Co-workers said Whigham, who had been riding up front, stopped the procession, walked back to her limousine, slid over the hood, opened the car door and told the driver to get out and catch the bus. She took the wheel and the procession continued. On another job, Whigham said she quickly dismissed four guys who had their foot on the limousine bumper while smoking cigarettes and eating fried chicken from a box on the trunk. She found replacements in the church and didn’t miss a beat.”
And she admitted in the article that she would “do it again.” She looks at her funeral home as a “ministry” and said:
“When you’re dealing with death, there’s a compassion that you have to have,” Whigham said. “When you step on that side of the page, you have to feel what they’re feeling. I don’t care what’s going on in my life.”
She admits to putting her own life on the backburner by missing most or all of her kids’ “basketball games and track meets” and cutting vacations short and leaving restaurants just so that the families that come to her our comfortable. She has fulfilled every request from discreetly planting a sandwich in the casket to making sure you smell the person’s favorite perfume or cologne on them.
When her mother passed in 2006, she didn’t disappoint then either. She left a presentation that no one will soon forget:
“Behind the ropes were her mother’s clothes, shoes, furniture, the last book she read on a night table. Her jewelry was under a glass case. The casket at the front of the viewing room was closed and a picture of her late father hung on the wall, overlooking his wife. Mourners then saw the exit sign to leave, but it led them to another room where Mrs. Whigham was lying in her own bed, dressed in her nightgown.”
In New Jersey, the folks know and respect her so much one client said:
“I know dead is dead, but if I have to be dead, I want to be dead here.”
Read more here.