Shuler's Me­mo­rial: its tra­di­tion and legacy con­tin­ues dy­namic growth

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By DAPHNE TAY­LOR Spe­cial for South Florida Times

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Re­cently at the Wake for the late Peppi Hen­drix, Palm Beach County Gospel leg­end and school board can­di­date, Shuler's Me­mo­rial Chapel in West Palm Beach was over­flow­ing with heart­bro­ken friends and fam­ily of Hen­drix, a well-known com­mu­nity stal­wart, par­tic­u­larly in the gospel arena. Hen­drix died of a mas­sive heart at­tack a week ear­lier and even though there was a ca­pac­ity crowd, Shuler's staff had the abun­dant crowd well or­ga­nized, as they paid their re­spects to Hen­drix, who was dressed in no­table fash­ion­able pink--a sign of unity.

Shuler's con­tin­ues to be the fu­neral home of choice for many fam­i­lies.

Bar­bara Carey-Shuler, a for­mer Mi­amiDade county com­mis­sioner and South Florida com­mu­nity stal­wart, also pro­pri­etor of the fu­neral home -- says that's thanks to the out­stand­ing ded­i­ca­tion and drive of her late hus­band, James La­mar Shuler, founder of the orig­i­nal fu­neral home in Del­ray Beach and the sec­ond lo­ca­tion in West Palm Beach. James Shuler died at the age of 53 in 2006.

Last year, the city of Del­ray Beach, voted to name a street af­ter James La­mar Shuler as an ode to his work in re­de­vel­op­ing the blighted ar­eas of Del­ray Beach, par­tic­u­larly along the city's main thor­ough­fare, At­lantic Av­enue, where the fu­neral home was pre­vi­ously lo­cated. The re­named street crosses with At­lantic Av­enue and SW 6th Av­enue, now called "James La­mar Shuler Av­enue.' The street nam­ing was also a trib­ute to his out­stand­ing work as a fu­neral home di­rec­tor and busi­ness­man in the city.

Today, his wife car­ries on his legacy and tra­di­tion, at the full ser­vice fu­neral home and chapel in West Palm Beach.

Carey-Shuler says she gets such an elite and pres­ti­gious clien­tele re­peat­edly be­cause her fu­neral home is as out­stand­ing as any other full-ser­vice, up­scale fu­neral home, re­gard­less of race or cul­ture. She cred­its her hus­band's vi­sion for want­ing the best.

James La­mar Shuler's in­ter­est in fu­neral homes started af­ter his mother died of can­cer when he was nine-years old and he won­dered what hap­pened to her body. The ques­tion even­tu­ally led him to lo­cal fu­neral homes, where he spent hours talk­ing to the di­rec­tors about car­ing for the dead. Shuler's brother, Cleve­land Shuler Jr., said his lit­tle brother felt close to his mother at fu­neral homes. This was the start of his mor­tu­ary science ca­reer. He even­tu­ally got his de­gree from Mi­ami-Dade Com­mu­nity Col­lege, started his own busi­ness in 1985 and op­er­ated it un­til his death in 2006. He fre­quently ser­viced fam­i­lies for free when they couldn't af­ford to pay. He also chaired the Com­mu­nity Re­de­vel­op­ment Agency (CRA) and worked to im­prove the city's re­la­tion­ship with the black com­mu­nity. He was on count­less civic boards and worked to re­build the black com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly At­lantic Av­enue.

"La­mar Shuler was a well-known busi­ness man in Del­ray Beach. He worked un­selfishly for the bet­ter­ment of the com­mu­nity and he was a cham­pion of the Spady Cul­tural Her­itage Mu­seum," said the mu­seum's di­rec­tor, Char­lene Far­ring­ton in a Sun-Sentinel ar­ti­cle.

Deputy Vice-Mayor of Del­ray Beach, Shirley E. John­son, also praised Shuler's works. "It was a great plea­sure for me to par­tic­i­pate in the for­mal cer­e­mony of of­fi­cially co-nam­ing SW Sixth Av­enue in honor of Mr. James La­mar Shuler," she said. "Mr. Shuler was born in Del­ray and spent his life work­ing to bet­ter the lives of oth­ers in the com­mu­nity. He worked hard pro­vid­ing a ser­vice of qual­ity to fam­i­lies in one of their most dif­fi­cult times — the death of a loved one."

Carey-Shuler says she ap­pre­ci­ates the ac­co­lades for her hus­band and his busi­ness acu­men and benev­o­lence.

"We will be around for many, many years for fam­i­lies when they are go­ing through a de­press­ing time. We'll carry on his legacy. He came back and gave to the com­mu­nity where he was born. I ap­pre­ci­ate my hus­band be­cause he gave back so much. "Be­fore we left the Del­ray com­mu­nity, we were ser­vic­ing An­g­los, His­pan­ics, the Caribbean com­mu­nity and ev­ery cul­ture. Our pro­fes­sional staff has great train­ing. We re­quire top train­ing from all of them and we're car­ry­ing on his legacy."

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF SHULERSMEMORIAL.COM

Dr. Bar­bara Carey-Shuler

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF SHULERSMEMORIAL.COM

Shuler's Me­mo­rial

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