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Comfort in troubled times

C. Scott Girlie has seen hundreds of Selma families through some of their darkest hours.

He treats each family as if they are his own. It is the way he learned when he began working part-time at Lawrence Brown-Service Funeral Home almost 11 years ago. Girlie will hold firm to this tradition for as long as he is funeral home president.

“I’m trying to get back to the personal service,” Girlie said. “We help people during tough times.”

Girlie bought a majority share in Lawrence Brown-Service Funeral Home from former owners John and Carla McCune in June. He already owned a partial share in the company, so it was only natural when the McCunes decided retire that Girlie was the person to take over.

Almost before his graduation cap hit the floor, Girlie was working at the funeral home. He needed a part-time job, and the position of night man was perfect for his schedule.

Girlie attended classes at Wallace State Community College-Selma during the day and tended the funeral home at night. After one year, he was offered a full-time position. Girlie finished up his associate degree in mortuary science at Jefferson State Community College and began directing funerals. He quickly realized the commitment his career required.

“The thing about running a funeral home is it’s 365 days a year,” Girlie said.

Three people are on call each day at Lawrence. At any moment, that phone might ring, and they must begin the two- to four-day process of providing funeral services. This involves everything from embalming the body to hosting the service in the 250-seat chapel.

“It’s all part of being associated with a funeral home,” Girlie said.

While it is a stressful job, Girlie would not trade it for the world. He grew up in Selma, and so did his parents, Calvin and Carolyn Girlie. For him, there is no better stretch of soil on this Earth.

“It just gives people a sense of comfort to come in and recognize you,” he said.

That is just how the McCunes intended it, too. Carla’s father, Skeet Eiland, owned the business before he sold it to his son-in-law and daughter. Carla said her dad always thought of his staff like a family and wanted to keep the business within it.

Girlie was the perfect fit to continue that legacy. After all, the funeral home paid for his education while he worked there, and Girlie said he would not be where he was without the McCunes.

“It was a blessing to us,” Carla said.

While the business might have changed hands through the years, Lawrence Brown-Service Funeral Home’s purpose has not. Girlie tries to carry on that same attitude that started more than 100 years ago with Skeet Eiland.

If you do not believe him, just take a look at his business card. It reads, “An Independent, Family-Owned Funeral Home.”

“We’re just a traditional funeral home that provides hometown service,” he said.