By Amber Mabe
Life is a beautiful cycle, one that should not only begin but also end with a celebration of the person we love. Both birth and death are surrounded by smiles and tears, happiness and fears. Although the loss of a loved one is heartbreaking in many ways, it does not have to be only a time of sorrow. A special group of people have devoted their lives to bringing peace and joy to families during this time. The staff at Hayworth-Miller Funeral Home have taken this mission of helping families to heart.
Hayworth-Miller, now in its fourth generation of family ownership, is a name that has long been associated with trust and compassion. Originally founded in 1961 by W. Paul Hayworth and Robert F. Miller, what began as a single funeral home in downtown Winston-Salem has expanded over the years into five different locations. Hayworth-Miller has become one of the largest family-owned funeral homes in the state, serving the community with traditional funeral services, memorials, and cremation. They go above and beyond the basics in order to further help families, offering many unique options for honoring loved ones, helping to bridge connections to grief support, and even partnering with an organization that provides free therapy dog visits upon request. Their caring, family-oriented mindset has set them apart from the rest, earning them a position of trust and respect within their communities for over 50 years. The Kernersville Chapel, purchased in 1984, has served families for over three decades.
Hayworth-Miller opened their doors to female funeral directors long before the industry had an acceptance of women being part of what history holds as a male-dominated profession, giving a new sense of balance to this time-honored career. Each one having experienced the loss of people dear to them, the women of Hayworth-Miller Funeral Home in Kernersville have a personal desire to bring the same comfort and peace to families that they received. Ashley Samuels, Funeral Director and Manager of the Kernersville branch, says the role of women in the funeral service industry has come full circle. “Long ago, females took care of everything surrounding births and deaths, and now it is circling back, enabling us to provide that same care in our community.” The passing of her grandmother and the way the funeral director handled services and tended to her family had a big impact on Ashley, who decided at a young age that she wanted to pursue a career as a funeral director. Having now served with Hayworth-Miller for 18 years, Ashley feels very fortunate, as a female, to have been given the opportunity and encouragement to be an important part of providing personalized care to each family in need. “We each have our own reasons and background on how we became interested in working in this industry—none of which includes making a gender statement,” says Funeral Director Nancy Swaim, “but more importantly, we are working together for the same purpose of helping people when they need it the most.”
This shared passion for helping others is proven by the fact that families in the area turn to Hayworth-Miller as their trusted provider time after time when a loved one has passed. The uniquely balanced staff is able to meet the individual needs of each family in the way that makes them feel most comfortable. While some prefer to meet with the male directors when planning a funeral service or in a pre-need situation, others are more comfortable sharing their concerns and wishes with a female director. The employees of Hayworth-Miller believe that when everyone acts with respect, diversity can be a huge asset to funeral services. “Hayworth-Miller recognizes that having a proportionate mix of female and male employees offers a great balance to serve the community,” Nancy says, “each person brings a different perspective to their job, but each maintains what built Hayworth-Miller from the beginning.”
This legacy of individual care and respect has inspired others to follow in the footsteps of these leading ladies of the funeral service industry. Hannah Kiger, Apprentice Funeral Director at Kernersville says she was always looking for a job that would allow her to help others. At 19, after tragically losing some close friends, she was inspired by the way Hayworth-Miller handled the services. “It was just how a funeral should be,” she said. “It is a celebration of their life, it should be about them. I wanted to be able to do that for others.” Nancy, a long-time family friend, was an inspiration to Hannah, who says she asked lots of questions as she watched Nancy undergo training to become a Funeral Director. Equally influential was her relationship with Ashley, who had directed a service for Hannah’s grandmother several years before. Even facing the unique challenges brought along by stereotypes about traditional gender roles in the funeral industry, Hannah says Hayworth-Miller feels like home, and she is excited about the balanced direction the company is going and their ability to better serve the community. “They are very intentional about having people on their staff that share the same level of care to take care of our families,” Hannah says.
The staff of Hayworth-Miller work together to help lessen the fear and uncertainty surrounding death and make funeral planning less intimidating. Whether sitting down with a funeral director to discuss urgent needs at the time of loss, or laying out plans for the future, clients are able to laugh and cry and build a relationship with their directors built on trust and understanding. Knowing that your loved one has been placed in capable hands gives you the peace of mind and freedom to celebrate their life and legacy surrounded by family and friends. “Hayworth-Miller has a way about them that truly lets a family know you care about them, that you are willing to go the extra mile as their funeral director, and that you are going to listen to what they want,” says Ashley. “We are very proud to be able to help in a time of need.”
Whether you are facing the uncertainties of your own future, or experiencing the loss of someone dear to you, you can feel safe in the hands of people who have experienced loss and made celebrating life their aspiration. Perhaps, like these women, you will be inspired to make a difference in someone else’s life as well. Whatever the case, you can rest assured that Hayworth-Miller Funeral Homes is ready to be there for you when you need them the most.
The Hayworth-Miller Kernersville Chapel is located at
3950 Macy Grove Road in Kernersville. For more information, visit their website at www.Hayworth-Miller.com or call