Premier Funeral & Cremation Services is an example of women making in-roads in the funeral industry
By Cynthia Anderson
NASHVILLE, TN — Delbrita Greene is not your traditional funeral director.
She is one of a growing number of women entering the mortuary business and on November 30th, 2018 she stepped out on faith and launched her own funeral service.
But Greene’s company, Premier Funeral & Cremation Services, won’t follow the traditional funeral home model.
Since Greene offers personalized, modern service alongside the comforts of a traditional touch, the funeral services at Premier are appealing to multiple generations.
“My thought process is different,” Greene said. “My goal is to alleviate the anxiety around making funeral arrangements. Oftentimes families are uneasy about entering a traditional funeral home – it can be morbid, unfamiliar and gloomy. I offer concierge service. If a family prefers that I come to them to make arrangements at their kitchen table, that’s what I will do.”
Greene’s office, located in the Melrose area at 805 Bradford Ave. Suite 104, offers a modern, calm and inviting office settings. There is no chapel and no casket selection room. Instead, Greene allows her customers to select items for their service through a catalog or a computer.
Services are held either at the family’s church or at one of several chapels Greene has available for her clients. Embalming and preparation work are done at a nearby care center. The company offers traditional funerals, natural green burials and cremations.
Greene said her model helps to keep overhead low and decrease costs for her clients. According to Greene, the national average cost of a funeral is $10,000. However, her company Premier Funeral & Cremation Services, offers traditional funeral packages that range from $2,796 to $4,886 with immediate burial and a 20 gauge steel casket included. She also offers payment plans.
“Everyone deserves a good funeral,” Greene said. “Nobody deserves a funeral that is sub-par. I don’t want people coming in trying to figure out how they are going to pay to bury their loved one.”
A graduate of Tennessee State University’s cardio-respiratory care sciences program, Greene began her career at Vanderbilt Medical Center. She worked in sleep medicine, but in her heart she always knew she was called to be in the funeral industry.
“If I had it my way I would have gone to mortuary school after high school,” Greene said. “My parents really weren’t into it. At the time, there weren’t many women in it.”
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 74 percent of morticians and funeral directors are men, however that is rapidly changing. Within the past decade, women have increasingly enrolled in mortuary science programs and in 2017, nearly 65 percent of graduates from funeral director programs in the United States were female, according to the American Board of Funeral Service Education.
Greene is a graduate of John A. Gupton Mortuary College in Nashville. She is dual-licensed as a funeral director and embalmer.
“In the new class at John A Gupton, there are more women than men,” Greene said. “Women are naturally caring and nurturing and women are making inroads in the funeral industry.”
Greene got her start in the industry at Lewis & Wright Funeral Directors where her mentor was the late Albert G. Berry, Ph.D.
“He would tell me we are in the service business and don’t you ever forget it,” Greene said. “I pride myself in being totally customer service oriented. That’s something my profession lacks.”
She also worked for Woodlawn Roesch Patton Funeral Home, which is an affiliate of Service Corporation International, one of the nation’s largest funeral service providers.
Greene said she always knew she would own her own funeral business so she decided to take a leap of faith.
“I didn’t come from a wealthy family but, we were rich in faith, hope and love…the greatest of these was love,” Greene said. “My goal is to create generational wealth. I realized I could either build someone else’s dream or build my own. God has prepared me with everything I need to succeed.”