By NJ Clausen
When I first started thinking about this series of articles to write for Kernersville Magazine, I had in mind the intention of allowing people in this great town to meet and get to know a little better people of character and kindness who had made a difference in my life, and in the life of others. This month, I would like you to get to know my friend Danny Jefferson.
Danny Jefferson grew up in Burlington, NC, with a childhood that was a little different then most of us experience. Growing up hard of hearing, Danny was extremely introverted. He enjoyed model cars, putting them together and painting them. Whatever he did, the main thing was that he wanted to be good at it and wanted to do it right.
When asked what brought him to Kernersville, Danny responded that he had been involved in the funeral business for many years before entering into a partnership with Mr. Pierce, buying the building which is known as the Pierce-Jefferson Funeral Home in 2004. Originally known as “Plunket Place” which started being built in 1840, with completion by 1848, it was the first original schoolhouse in Kernersville. After the Civil War it was a private schoolhouse for a time, then became a private residence.
Talking with Danny, his love of the historical and traditional is very apparent.
Being in the funeral business is not for everyone, but Danny sees it as a ministry, allowing him to talk with and help people which is something he loves. Enjoying people, hearing their story, being there for them…Danny observed that people do not care how you look, they just want to know you care. Danny was the recipient of the Funeral Director of the Year award in 2017, a very prestigious award in the industry that has been awarded posthumously in the past or to men and women in twilight years. Several prominent citizens, peers, and friends had submitted letters in support of his nomination. Danny told me that if that is what people think of him on the day he passes…he feels ‘pretty cool’ with that. Danny remembered with a smile his mothers’ reaction to the news. When first told of the honor, she said okay, and started talking of other things. When asked if she understood that he had won, the excitement—which included the actual jumping up and down and clapping of hands of this 80+year old woman when she did understand—was one of the most memorable parts of the whole experience.
Danny has written a book, FROM ‘HEAR’ TO FOREVER, which he describes as a journey from revelation to transformation. Danny says that he really needed to pray about what he put in his book, questioning if he really wanted to put his mistakes out there. Realizing that no one is perfect, and if your mistakes are what make you who you are now, it is who you are now that people worry about. They do not worry about what you were then…as long as you do not repeat it. Danny felt that if even one kid read the book and it helped with their handicap, that would have made it worth the effort. Danny pointed out that we are all handicapped in some way, some are just more visible. His hope is that the book is able to help someone realize that it does not matter how you grew up, where you grew up, or the circumstances of how you grew up…USE those to make yourself better. Humor is a part of Danny, and he shared this story from his childhood. When younger, he did not have hearing aids, so he put a button with string attached in his ear going under his shirt. It did not work, but it DID cause people to talk louder!
Danny made it clear that he has no plans to retire to the beach or mountains. In fact, he shared that he plans to work up through lunch on that last day. As long as the Lord keeps him healthy, active and in front of people, Danny plans to keep on working. He adamantly states that Kernersville is a great place, and that this is where his family will stay.
Danny stays active in Kernersville with Körner’s Folly, the Chamber of Commerce, the Shepherd’s Center, and the YMCA. He also serves as Vice Chairman of the Guilford County Crime Stoppers.
I asked Danny if there was anything he wanted me to tell his Kernersville neighbors, and this was his reply: “Thank you for embracing me, loving me, and sharing your lives with me.”