By DAVID BORAKS
Funeral director Sam James has purchased Northlake Memorial Gardens, a 30-acre cemetery in Huntersville, adding another service at the business he started 2 1/2 years ago. He says the deal will enable his James Funeral Home to serve families “from beginning to end” of their funeral planning.
Mr. James said he completed the deal Tuesday afternoon to purchase the cemetery for an undisposed price from owner Dana Elder.
“We’re trying to get some diversification into the funeral home,” Mr. James said in an interview. “We’ve been working on it for months.”
Northlake Memorial Gardens is at 11001 Alexanderana Road, off U.S. 21 in Huntersville. That’s just a few miles south of James Funeral Home, which opened last year on Arahova Drive, also off U.S. 21. Mr. James started the business in 2010 after leaving Raymer Funeral Home, then built the new funeral home.
Northlake Memorial was the only independent cemetery in the area not part of a church, Mr. James said.
The acquisition makes James Funeral Home the only family-owned funeral business in the area with a cemetery, he said.
“Our goal is to have control of the service from the beginning to the end. It’s just another offering that we can have that sets us apart as a funeral home,” he said.
With the region’s rapid growth in recent years, many new residents don’t have longtime ties to a church or a church cemetery “plot they’ve had in the family for a hundred years,” he said.
For Mr. James, the deal also was personal: “My parents bought spaces there in the 1980s,” he said, and his grandfather is buried there.
Back in the 1980s, Northlake was known as Mecklenburg Memorial Park. It’s a perpetual care cemetery, which means a portion of the cost of a plot goes to a fund that ensures the cemetery is maintained in the future, Mr. James said.
Mr. James said Dana Elder will stay on for a year as a consultant, “to help me get into the (cemetery) business.”
James Funeral Home, jamesfuneralhomelkn.com
Northlake Memorial Gardens, www.northlakememorial.com
March 8, 2011, Around Davidson column, “Meet Sam James.”