Phil Jordan, local psychic and man of many hats, was guest speaker at the Oct. 23 monthly meeting of the Candor Historical Society, sharing stories of his years as the funeral director and proprietor of the Candor Funeral Parlor (now Estey, Monroe and Fahey). Jordan opened the funeral home in November 1985 and sold it to Shawn Fahey in 2009.
Jordan said mortuary school was a year long when he was educated there, followed by a one- year internship; today he thought it had increased to four years and one year of internship. Those interested can even do some of the education online. Jordan said he became an ordained minister and a funeral director within 18 months of each achievement.
“A funeral director has to be a counselor, hair dresser and cosmetologist—sometimes even a referee in family disputes,” Jordan said.
He reported seeing death for the first time at the age of 12 when his uncle passed away and even helped hold the ropes used to lower his coffin down into the grave at that time.
Jordan reported that a neighbor of his when he was growing up said she knew he would be a funeral director after requesting she attend the funeral and burial he held for a sparrow that had flown into a closed window.
After opening the funeral home, his first hearse was actually a gray station wagon. He told about a time when he and his partner were getting ready to hold a funeral in the home when they noticed water coming down through a chandelier and found out some pipes on the second floor had frozen and broke. They scrambled to clean up and still were able to hold the funeral.
Jordan talked about never being able to predict what may happen; in one story he recalled meeting with a family to work out arrangements when the furnace in the home blew and he had to call the fire company. Another story he told had to do with nieces fighting over the aunt’s diamonds.
“Funerals are the transition of real life to spiritual life,” Jordan said. He talked about many funerals he has presided over and the differences between the smaller community and city funeral homes, including the differences in the attire worn by those attending the funeral and even what the deceased is dressed in.
Jordan reported writing a thesis on the role the funeral plays in the grieving process. He talked about services being a celebration of life, the current practice of displaying photos, and how everyone handles grief differently.
“We all have had tragedies and bad times, but we need to walk through it,” Jordan said. To that means, he wrote a children’s book titled, “Mrs Quigley Died One Day,” to help children understand a death. At the end of the story are pages of questions for the children to answer about the person to help them remember.
“Funeral directors treat loved ones with respect, and I am still very honored to be with a family at a time of loss,” Jordan said.
After his talk Jordan answered questions and listened to stories from the 75 or so people present for his talk.
Historical Society President Milton Dougherty asked those present to think about ideas for future programs. In the 22 years of the historical society’s existence they have held about seven to nine programs a year, and many are recorded on CD for those interested.
Dougherty also reported on the sale of Christmas items during the Fall Festival. They earned over $400 and still have more items on hand at the Candor History Center for those interested. All proceeds and any donations will be going to help with improvements and upkeep of the history center.
After the talk, the audience enjoyed refreshments and the chance to purchase some history books, Candor afghans and more to help the society.
The Candor Historical Society is working to get a newsletter out in December; those interested in receiving the newsletter should get in touch with Milt Dougherty at (607) 659-7357 or contact another historical society member. For more information about the historical society, visit candorhistoricalsociety.weebly.com.