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Vines Funeral Home to unveil historical marker

LaFAYETTE — A longtime LaFayette funeral home will be immortalized in history Thursday morning.

Vines Funeral Home, located at 211 B Street SW in LaFayette, will unveil a National Register of Historic Places marker at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26.

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the historical building, districts sites and structures worthy of preservation in the U.S, according to the National Park Service website.

To be considered eligible for the list, a property must meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation, which involves looking at the property’s age, significance and integrity. Additionally, the property must be significant to American history, architecture, art, archeology, engineering or culture.

According to a news release from Vines Funeral Home, the community is invited to attend the free event, which will feature music, food and the unveiling of the market. A live stream of the event will be available at vinesfuneralhome.com/stream and a live link will be on the funeral home’s Facebook page.

Merilyn Vines, current president of Vines Funeral Home, and Julius Vines’ daughter, said her father founded the funeral home after returning home from World War II. She said although black soldiers weren’t supposed to be on the front lines of the war, her father was, and he was there to help save lives by driving an ambulance.

Merilyn Vines said her father wanted to be a mortician and own his own business, but there were several obstacles placed in front of him.

She said Julius Vines used his GI Bill to fund his education for mortuary science at a school in Montgomery. However, that school lost its accreditation during his tenure, and he was forced to go back home.

Eventually, Julius Vines went back to school and graduated with a degree from Gupton Jones College of Mortuary Science in Nashville.

Upon earning the degree, Merilyn Vines said her father wanted to use another military program to building his funeral home and live above it. However, the Veterans Affairs office in Montgomery told him they couldn’t approve his application because it was a business instead of a home.

According to Merilyn Vines, her father threatened to go to Washington D.C. to speak with the national office about why his application couldn’t be approved since he was going to use the building as a private residence and business.

She said that her father knew of similar approved applications in the northeast part of the country from other former soldiers.

Within days of his intention of going to Washington, Julius Vines received a phone call from the Montgomery VA informing him they were going to approve his application.

After the approval, Julius Vines opened the funeral home and ambulance service with his wife LeMerle Vines.

Merilyn Vines said it was important to get the funeral home on the National Register of Historic Places list because her father made a difference in so many people’s lives.

“I felt strongly that it should be recognized,” she said.

Moreover, she said that she didn’t want the stories of her father to stop after she is gone.

“When I am gone, people will still know my father was here and made a difference in the community,” she said. “My father was born during a time when African Americans were not supposed to have the American Dream but my father had it anyway.”

She knows her father may not be known throughout the country, but in Chambers County and LaFayette, he was important to many people.

“He’s not Lincoln or Washington, but he made a difference in so many people’s lives, I felt it should be noted,” Merilyn Vines said.