In 2016, LaVera Hodges was faced with the challenge of building back up what her family had started over 80 years ago.
After professional differences between Hodges a former employee, whom she viewed as family, the future of L. Hodges Funeral Services was in serious doubt of being able to continue on.
The worry was short-lived. Within two months, the Lafayette County community rallied around Hodges and helped get her, and her family business back on its feet. The response showed Hodges how deeply connected her family was with the rest of the LOU Community and the amount of respect there was for that relationship.
“They encourage me on and they keep me encouraged to stay here, telling me how good a job we do,” Hodges said. “It’s wonderful.”
Starting in 1934, Hodges’ father, Nathan Hodges, Jr., opened the funeral services business, making it the longest active Black-owned business in Lafayette County.
Hodges joined her father in 1973, which was when she realized she wanted to continue the business and discovered how passionate she was about running a funeral home.
Running a Black-owned business offers its challenges, Hodges said, and being a Black business owner for nearly 50 years has often added to those challenges. She has seen her share of ups and downs throughout the last five decades.
“I really never thought about the hardships and the struggle of the ups and downs until after my dad died (in 2002),” Hodges said. “Then, that was when I realized there’s a lot of battles and stuff you’ve got to fight and challenges you have to face. Since 2002, I’ve had some hard drops. I was almost rock-bottom and had to give up. The community support, love from the community, financial support kept me hanging in there.”
When Hodges lost her business’s previous location on Highway 30, she was without a place to continue and carry on her family’s legacy. That was in September 2016; by October of that year, the LOU Community had rallied together and found Hodges a new location and helped get the funeral home business back on it’s feet.
“The community turned the lights on for me,” Hodges said.
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