Evans Funeral Chapel & Cremation Services
Charlie Evans has many fond childhood memories, and they don’t always involve trips to the beach, ice cream cones or playing with the family dog. Instead, his cherished memories are spending time with his Dad at his job at a funeral home. Evans, owner of Evans Funeral Chapel & Cremation Services, is the fourth-generation owner of the family business that dates back to 1865.
“When I was a kid, Dad took me to work to get me out of my mother’s hair so that she could focus on my four siblings,” he recalls. “I remember when I was 8 years old, Dad took me on a trip to New York City for a funeral he was doing. We got up really early, and I went along for the ride and to spend time with him. I also remember weekend drives to Western Maryland with him. It was great,” says Evans. As he got older, he recalls helping out by washing cars and cutting the lawn. “Once I got my driver’s license, Dad really put me to work,” he laughs. “I would deliver flowers to cemeteries, and the pay was free room and board.” After high school, Evans says he started working on the professional side during the summers.
Evans says that his great-grandfather, Charles F. Evans, started the business with a partner and it was called Evans & Spence. “They started by renting horse-drawn hearses and limousines out to other funeral homes. Later, my great-grandfather bought out Mr. Spence. Back then funeral homes did not exist as they do today because everything was done at home, which is why many old mansions were eventually converted into funeral homes.” Fifty years after the business was founded, the business was relocated to Mount Royal Avenue in Baltimore, and in the 1950s, the Hiss United Methodist Church parsonage was purchased, and Evans Funeral Chapel & Cremation Services relocated to Parkville. In 1993, the Forest Hill location opened followed by the Monkton location in 2009.
Evans’s grandfather and father eventually ran the business, and Evans followed in their footsteps. “I was one of five kids and the only one to enter into the funeral home business. Our business was once a Mom and Pop operation with my Mom doing the bookkeeping, and now we have three locations, but we are still a family-owned business at its core,” says Evans, who adds that he has been approached by large, chain-style funeral home businesses to buy him out, but he never considered it. “I believe firmly in what I do and the value of a family-owned and operated business. It means more to me than a dollar bill. If we sold to a conglomerate or worldwide operation, it would undo what the three generations before me created.”
As with any business, Evans says that he has made some changes along the way. “I can’t run the business the same way my father did, as society has changed, the business has changed, the world has changed. In my time, some of the changes to the industry include the introduction of the concept of the pre-arranged funeral and the increase in cremations. There have been societal changes, too. For example, the percentage of people 40 years ago who were regular churchgoers vs. today is radically different. This has had an effect on our business. Forty years ago, you knew your minister personally, but today not as many people have that personal relationship with a church or their minister,” Evans says. “Services today are more varied than before. We’ll do anything a family wants as long as it’s done in a respectful way.”
So, is there a future generation in the wings ready to take over the family business? “I have two sons ages 22 and 24. The oldest one says that when he turns 25, he’ll let me know if he’s interested. For the type of profession I’m in, you must really want to do it. It’s more like a calling, a lifestyle. You have to live, eat and breathe it, and it’s not a 9 to 5 job. I can’t force my kids into it. That would be disrespectful to the business, my kids and the families we serve. Would I be disappointed if neither one of them wants it? Yes. Would I be hurt? No. In the end, you just want your kids to be happy.” I95
Evans Funeral Chapel & Cremation Services