Mowell marks 50 years of serving Fayette families

Carl J. Mowell and Son Funeral Home has been serving families in Fayette County for five decades.

Since starting the business in 1964, C.J. Mowell has watched the county change around him while his funeral home remained a fixture in the community and a place where many families would find themselves seeking comfort in their hardest times.

Visit the funeral home now and you could be forgiven for assuming that C.J.’s son David is the “Son” part of Carl J. Mowell and Son. David says people assume that all the time, but the truth is the funeral home was named for Carl J. Mowell, Senior, David’s grandfather and one of the people to invest in his son C.J.’s business idea in its infancy along with Ed Davis, owner of Davis Motor Company in Fayetteville.

Mowell Funeral Home now has the Chapel in Fayetteville and a Chapel in Peachtree City which opened in 1995.

In its first year of operation, C.J. lived in the funeral home with his wife Faye Griffin Mowell upstairs and, the funeral home presided over only two funerals.

In 2013 they served over 500 families throughout Fayette County and the surrounding areas.

The current facility in Fayetteville sits back off the road a bit in what C.J. calls the “backyard” of the old house. The memories of running a funeral home business downstairs and family life upstairs are plentiful for C.J., Faye, and their four children, Becky, Beth, Ferrell, and David.

“There were some problems living upstairs with the funeral home downstairs,” C.J. says with a bit of a smile. “Number one, keeping the children quiet while we were having visitation downstairs.”

David and his siblings remember those days well, and the familiar and somewhat ominous sound of a buzzer that meant either somebody had arrived downstairs and needed help, or somebody downstairs was not so happy with the amount of noise being made upstairs.

“I mean that buzzer had its own voice,” David says, “I can remember being a kid and hearing that buzzer. It meant you better pipe down real quick!”

Living in a funeral home also made for some unique childhood experiences like playing hide-and-seek in the casket room when no one was around. “Most of the friends my age remember stuff like that. We did it all the time so it didn’t really didn’t seem strange to us. We had a great backyard; we just couldn’t play outside whenever we had a funeral or visitation.”

After 20 years living upstairs, the Mowells moved out of that funeral home in 1984, one of many changes in the five decades.

Originally, C.J. was not only a funeral director and the Fayette County coroner (an elected position he has held since 1966), he was also “in the ambulance business, which was also 24/7,” as he says, until the county and municipalities established their own services.

“Hallelujah, we got out of that,” he says as he laughs about those days.

Now 50 years old, Mowell Funeral Home is one of the oldest remaining businesses in Fayetteville. David says he has tried to figure out what other businesses might be older and could only find a few. Since its inception, the funeral home has served around 8,500 families in the Fayette community.

“One of the nice things about being part of the community for so long is the friendships you make and the people you meet,” David says. “It’s bittersweet a lot of times. You get to help them when their parents die. Now, I’m serving the people that I know when their parents and loved ones pass away, and it’s the same people that we served 25 years ago when their parents passed away.”

Though he was born in Clayton County, C.J. has spent a lifetime as part of Fayette County, building his business with his family and raising a family.

“We’ve got some memories here that you cherish,” C.J. says, “Fayette County has been good to us; Fayette County has been good to us. We appreciate people trusting us, and God has certainly blessed us. We look forward to serving for another 50 years.”