Barlow Funeral Home as it looks today.

One of the oldest businesses in Tipton County and the oldest black-owned business is Barlow Funeral Home located in Covington.

Established in 1925 in Lauderdale County by Major Barlow, Barlow Funeral has been a family run business for its entire 85 years.

“I’m the third generation,” said Quincy Barlow, current owner. “Major was my dad’s uncle. He had no children and he got my dad to go to mortuary school.


That was approximately in 1932. Barlow said when his great-uncle died, he left the business to his father, V. B. Barlow, Sr.

Major Barlow, the founder of Barlow Funeral Home.

“Thirty-three months from the day my dad graduated from mortuary school he passed and left everything to my father. My father ran it from 1935 until 1968 when he passed, ” he said.

After the passing of his father, Barlow’s mother, Marjorie W. Barlow, took over the reins of the business.

“My father died when I was 12-years-old,” Barlow said. “My mother took over and ran it for 33 years. She was the chief principal officer from 1968 to 2001. She’s really the one who has held this business together.”

Truly a family business, in addition to Barlow, his older brother, Drakely Barlow, Sr., also worked in the family business until his passing in 2006. And today, his son, nephew and now his daughter is learning the family trade.

“My older brother Drakley graduated from mortuary in 1975 and came back home to help as the general manager. My daughter, Brittney is in mortuary school right now. She’ll graduate from Gupton in August of this year,” Barlow added proudly.

Barlow Funeral Home has been located at its present location, 205 N. Main Street, since 1944. “We used to be across Spring Street, closer to the court house going up the hill,” said Barlow. “My dad built that building in 1944 for a funeral home.

In fact, I lived upstairs in that funeral home until I was 6-years-old,” he added, referring to the present building.

Barlow Funeral Home as it once looked.

Barlow said the mortuary business has changed a lot over the years since the days his great-uncle Major began it.

“There’s been a lot of changes,” he stated. “When my dad passed my mom just put us in the business. I’ve seen it go from the old burial association to the pre-need concept. We do a lot of stuff now through automation.

We offer video services. I remember when we didn’t have a one man stretcher. We have hydraulic stretchers now, that unless its an oversized size person, one person can make a removal.”

To keep up with the changing times, the funeral home went through a major renovation in the 1990s.

“We’ve added a chapel, an elevator and a new showroom,” explained Barlow. “We are a full service funeral. We offer insurance as well as the pre-need and at-need funerals. We also offer cremations.”

Providing for an average of 100 funerals a year, Barlow said cremation services is one change he has seen recently take off.

“In the past three years I’ve seen those become more prevalent in the African-American society,” said Barlow. “We used to have maybe two cremations a year but last year I did more cremations in the history of this business. We had nine cremations last year.”

Barlow has been in the mortuary business his entire life and although he has fulfilled other roles during his lifetime, it’s the funeral business that brings him the greatest source of pride.

“I was born into it really,” explained Barlow. “I’ve done a lot of things – been in banking, politics, I worked for 18 years for the Tennessee Department of Revenue and I’m the executive director for Delta Human Resources but my daddy wanted all of us to be licensed [in the mortuary business]. So, I pursued the courses and graduated with my license in 1979. It’s really an honor to be a part of this and I anticipate going to the funeral home full-time when I retire.”

Sherri Onorati
Author: Sherri Onorati