|John Charles "Charlie" Gifford|
John Charles "Charlie" Gifford, native of Vero Beach, began his funeral career in 1952. At that time Gifford worked for Charles E. Cox of Cox Funeral Home while attending high school. Soon after graduation he left for mortuary school and eventually had the privilege to align himself with Cox. He has been serving the community of Vero Beach with integrity and compassion for his entire duration, not slowing down progress for any occasion or personal pursuit; even on vacation Gifford could be contacted if families needed him.
Charles Gifford born May 19, 1934 is a part of a lineage that gave Vero Beach its name.
"Vero," the town’s original name before 1925, is the adverb form of the Latin word "truth. "Gifford’s great grandmother Sarah, who actually studied and spoke Latin, and Grandfather Henry, gave character to this town and so did Charlie. During his reign as a very considerate and competent funeral provider, he constantly kept a strong sense of personality and pride with his facility, and always, without fail, promoted immeasurable care throughout the community of Vero Beach.
“My family and I have been in the community so long that it makes a significant difference to whom people trust,” said Gifford.
According to Gifford, he has always been a grateful and “very fortunate man,” because the great people of Vero Beach have supported him throughout the years.
“Obviously my forefathers claimed a stake and I did too,” said Gifford. “I have a responsibility to this place and that’s why people choose my facility.”
Gifford is now retired but comes in from time-to-time when families ask for his appearance.
Recently, Gifford saw the necessity to enhance its legacy and had Seawinds come aboard in the late 1990s, making it Cox-Gifford-Seawinds Funeral Home and Crematory.
Gifford is quite proud of being raised in the community of Vero Beach and wants people to know that he, much like his grandparents, has created a legacy that will continue to give back.
|Robert Marshal Voyles Jr.|
Robert Marshal Voyles Jr., born Aug, 31 1955 prefers “Marshal” to any other title. He dislikes “Sir” or “Mr. Voyles,” to him Marshal, and just Marshal, is a suitable name for a casual but honest man.
Marshal, also known as “Bob and Judy’s boy,” is a humble man that enjoys participating in his community. Much like the funeral home he works for, Marshal has responsibility to Vero Beach and dedicates himself to church, youth leagues, and other community organizations.
He is a fourth generation Vero resident and has practically spent his whole life in the intra-coastal town. Other than a couple stretches at college, Marshal has never left; his heart just wouldn’t let him. He would even return to Vero Beach during summer breaks. Unexpectedly, this period of time would ultimately change Marshal’s professional future. He worked part-time for Cox-Gifford Funeral Home and found a passion in funeral directing; a career unlike any other he came across in college. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, specializing in accounting, Marshal began mortuary school in Miami.
Marshal is a hard-working and humble man. He takes great pride in his honesty and good sense of humor but, most of all, his greatest attribute is serving the community of Vero Beach. According to Marshal, his humble core consists of “God and country,” and he takes enjoyment in making his world compassionately revolve around this notion.
“It is the community itself and the families we serve that make Cox-Gifford-Seawinds Funeral Home and myself special,” said Marshal. “Because the services are about honoring a life, we have tailored this funeral home and crematory around the families in a way that has kept them comfortable, satisfied, and personable, much like a hometown feel.”
Marshal has been working for Cox-Gifford Funeral Home and Crematory since his college summer in 1977 but has recently promoted to funeral director in charge when Seawinds Funeral Homes came aboard.
What makes a modern day hero; strength, power, knowledge? What about courageousness, leadership, heart and the ability to deal with what most people can never face: Death.
|James W. Young|
James W. Young, fondly known by many as “Jim,” is no ordinary man. Everyday it seems he is up before the alarm clock, waking and embracing the obstacles and events that the day places on his path; for he has found a passion unlike any other. He strives to make everyday special and enjoyable for people that walk through his doors, or at least bearable. He makes every effort for the satisfaction of his customers, under any circumstances, and pushes himself and his 25 employees to make every moment count. Young is a funeral director, founder and owner of a series of funeral homes and, most of all, a man with a mission: to make this world an easier place for us all.
For some people death can not be understood. Its presence grips the very consciousness of our bodies with shock, heartache, and rage. It breaks us down into a melancholy until our bodies are consumed by numbness. Induced by the unreal and fostered by a void, our psyches’ transition into a tolerable state is very hard-pressed. Nonetheless, Young knows this and it is his duty to protect people from any unnecessary hardship. He cannot reverse this cycle but he can help resurrect the life that once was. He has mastered multiple strengths in 30 years of being in the funeral environment. With all his power, Jim does his best to help individuals recreate a loved one in an affectionate final tribute that celebrates their most treasured memories.
“The ability to reestablish that emotional link is crucial for families so that they can reach closure,” said Young. To him, serving the family to the fullest capability is probably one the most rewarding things that he can do to give back. Ultimately, he would like to take grief and pain out of people’s lives even before they reach his facilities but that is usually never the case. Nonetheless, when people do arrive at their most distressed he is at his best and most nurturing.
“It breaks my heart to see people in this situation and it is hard to watch family members and spouses deal with this most sudden and severe transition,” said a heartfelt Young. “So, we help them and support them as if they were one of our own,” he added.
Taking an extra step in the care of a family’s arrangements and services, Young makes a special effort with his facilities. He expects an environment that is warm, inviting, and divine. He wants to let people know that they will be taken care of along with their loved one. This is why his philosophy of “immaculate facility and affordability” is omniscient compared to competitors.
“We are full service facilities, not only do we pride ourselves in our funeral homes but every need is taken care of on the premises, nothing is subcontracted,” said an exuberant Young. “This allows us to control costs and pass on savings to our families.”
Young has dedicated his life to his businesses and expects the best out of them. He has founded and currently operates Seawinds Funeral Home and Crematory in Sebastian, Fla; Davis-Seawinds Funeral Home and Crematory in Melbourne, Fla; and Young Seawinds Funeral Home and Crematory in Vero Beach, Fla. As well, he owns Eagle Monument Cemetery Services and manages Palm Beach National Chapel, a facility conveniently located across from the Veterans Affairs National Cemetery in Lake Worth. Palm Beach National Chapel has recently opened to further reach families in need and is sure to achieve its full potential under his leadership.
His strong will, competitive nature, and very nurturing character not only make him a modern day hero but compel him to make it easier for people who are coping with death of a loved one. Emotionally it is one of the hardest jobs on earth; Young faces it head on each and every day with fervor and tenacity so that families and friends can face it as well.
|William Larry Russell|
William Larry Russell is so busy that he isn’t afforded the time to indulge in small talk with co-workers or satisfy his palate with tasty doughnuts and coffee. With over 10 times the inflow of pre-need customers than the average funeral provider his hands are full. However, Larry, which most people call him, loves his job and has been doing for over 36 years. If he could, Larry says he we would work a 14 hour day easily.
Wishing to keep up, Larry’s greatest part of the job is walking families through funeral process before death, confusion, and pain. As a pre-need/ preplanning family counselor and sales manager he wants people to take care of their arrangements so that there is no ambiguity in their wishes or any undue burden put on other family members.
“It is a value to themselves and their family to take care of end of life affairs,” said Larry. “It’s weird because people will plan for retirement but not death. The worse thing possible is for people not to discuss this topic with their family,” added Larry.
Larry is not just good at his career; he is one of the best. One of the reasons people come to him is his natural personality and his deep appreciation for helping families.
“I am here to remove confusion and get them [families] on a path not to overcome what just happened, that takes years, but to help them transition forward,” said Larry.
Now, a third party consultant, Larry does the majority of his work for the Seawinds Funeral Homes family. Based out of Cox-Gifford-Seawinds in Vero Beach his team works up and down Florida’s Treasure and Space Coast.
This job has also taken him to Philadelphia, Penn; Nashville, Tenn. and all over Florida.
According to Larry, being genuine and making a true connection between families and himself is his secret to success.
“People look to you as experts and you need to be very sincere and informative,” explained Larry.
Larry and his team do so much because of this connection, which has been brought about simply by clarifying choices.
“A lot of people shop around before making a final decision. By itemizing and breaking down the process in detail, that is, all expenses A-to-Z, it creates very little doubt in people’s minds and builds a rapport with them,” said Larry.
However, this is not the only reason people come to see him. Since Seawinds Funeral Homes are independently owned and operated he can save the families an average of 40 percent on their arrangements.
Despite the surfeit of savings, it is how people are treated that matters most to Larry and his altruistic personality.
“We are not aggressive; we never push people into a sale, which is totally different than the stereotype people give us. We are fast and prompt for people who choose our services,” said Larry. “Plus, we take great pride in letting people express themselves. If they want burial or cremation or any other general idea then we go from there. We never suggest any preconceived notion of what a person or family might want. We are only here to serve people and treat them to the best of our ability,” said an exuberant Larry.
Larry is very adamant about people not putting this opportunity off because of fear. To Larry the notion of death can be overcome. Here is a strong word of advice for people who are superstitious or feel this subject is too taboo or off color.
“It is the result of this business to help people deal with final arrangements and facing realities. It is about planning for your future desires not planning for death. It would be a shame for anybody to miss out on such a great financial and emotionally cathartic opportunity. When I speak with a family my ideal position is to get them interested and asking questions. I don’t want them to look back and say they didn’t get to express how they wanted to be remembered.”