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JAMES FUNERAL HOME
When Sam James was just 5 years old attending his
grandmother’s funeral, he knew he wanted to be in the funeral business. With a natural curiosity and a heart for helping, young Sam went home and declared, “That’s what I want to do when I grow up!” And he never changed his mind! At 16, Sam got his driver’s license and a job with Mr. John Raymer, in that order. Lake Norman natives like Sam know who Mr. Raymer is when it comes to the funeral business. “I grew up in Huntersville,” Sam says, “in the Long Creek area. My mother is from Charlotte and my father is from Cornelius, so we have been in the Lake Norman area for generations. I remember Mr. Raymer at my grandmother’s funeral … he was so relaxed and clearly a comfort to my grandfather and my parents.” Sam worked at Raymer Funeral Home as much as possible, soaking up all the knowledge he could and eventually attended mortuary school and got a four-year degree at Erskine College. After returning home from school, Sam again worked for, and eventually managed, Raymer Funeral Home until Mr. Raymer’s death in 2009. After the family sold the business, Sam decided it was time to open his own funeral home and, since opening in 2012, James Funeral Home has put in an onsite crematory and purchased Northlake Memorial Gardens in Huntersville.
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Sam not only had his career picked out at an early age, but he met his future wife, Liz, in the fifth grade. Both attended SouthLake Christian Academy as youngsters and then Erskine College, marrying after graduation. “We now have two little ones, Henry and Violet,” Sam beams, “and they are the delight of our lives. Both of them grabbed our hearts the moment they were born and have not let go!” Attributing much to his father, Sam has always looked up to his dad and credits him for his strong work ethic and business savvy. “He is always a good sounding board,” Sam says. “If I am making a big decision, I usually call Dad to talk it through … he ran a successful business and has wonderful words of wisdom.” When you ask Sam about his business it is easy to see that he is in the business of FAMILY … family IS his business! “The gratitude and privilege I feel to serve the families of our communities is overwhelming at times, but it reassures my faith in God and in my calling as His servant. I will never forget an elderly widower who wrote me a note that simply said ‘you made me hurt less.’ That is the kindest thing someone can tell me. That is what I am here to do. That is why God has me doing what I am doing.” w
WRITER LESLIE OGLE