In 1933, Sam A. Twiford, Sr. — with help from his father, S.W. Twiford — opened the Twiford Funeral Home in a room above the Quinn Furniture Store in Elizabeth City.
Almost 90 years later, the business is still in operation, still in the family, and still serving the area, with locations in Elizabeth City, Manteo, and Hatteras.
David H. Twiford, Jr. represents the fourth generation to run Twiford Funeral Homes, LLC, along with his father David H. Twiford, Sr., CEO; his mother Darlene Jones Twiford; and his brother J.J. Twiford.
While their offerings have kept up with the industry, as a family business the most critical service they deliver is that personal family touch, so needed during the most difficult times people experience.
“In the end, funerals are about coming together,” David Jr. said. “There is a personal touch that a funeral director can give you walking you through the arrangements. Then there is also the healing part of the memorial or the service. You never want to give that up.”
Over nearly a century, community involvement has always been part of their credo. One service they offer exemplifies that commitment to community. For the “Retire Your Flag” program, the Twifords collect worn and tattered American flags. When a family chooses cremation for a military veteran, they include the retired flag for cremation as well as another way to honor the vet for service to the country.
Across the industry, cremation services are an increasingly chosen option. In the Outer Banks, one of the reasons is the “very limited beach grave space.”
“There are just a limited number of cemeteries that have been developed here,” Twiford said. “Another thing is that so many who have moved into the area are without local families, so they have their bodily remains cremated and sent back home for burial.”
This trend has opened new ways to memorialize family members. Some extreme examples in the news are planting ashes with a tree, converting ashes into diamonds, and even launching them into space. The Twifords are able to accommodate reasonable requests.
“If a family is looking for those types of services, and it happens to be something we don’t offer, we certainly will refer them to someone who can.”
One area in which they have embraced innovation is utilizing the reach and power of the Internet, beyond the now common online tribute.
“In today’s world, we would be lagging if we did not offer that,” David Jr. said of the ability to leave memories of loved ones online. “But we have taken it a step further. We offer an online arranging option for direct cremation. That is one service that sets us apart from anyone in this region. We try to be progressive, and not just stand still.”
Families dealing with the loss of a loved one can expect empathy and support from the Twiford family during a trying time. Their dedication demands a level of commitment not always required of owners of other types of businesses.
“Ours is a very rewarding profession,” Twiford agreed. “Yes, all the long days, the long nights, and the emotional aspect can drain you, but it is worth every minute of it. When you see a family you’ve helped a couple of months later, maybe in town at the diner or post office, and they come up to you and thank you for helping to celebrate a loved ones life, and how appreciative they are, it makes every minute worth it.”