A TRADITION OF SERVICE
HISTORY: FOUR GENERATIONS OF SERVICEMurray Henderson Funeral Home has been serving families for over 100 years with the care and compassion so necessary to the bereaved. Our goal is to help them create a fitting, memorable and affordable service for their loved one. We offer a wide variety of services and products, as well as a wealth of creative ideas and suggestions. Together we design a memorial or funeral service that suits their needs now and in the future.Our mission is to pursue excellence as demonstrated in our commitment to the delivery of consistent, high quality funeral services. Recognizing that this is only accomplished by promoting an environment of trust, respect and compassion, we tailor our services for our families who are our greatest asset.Our Early History: 1st and 2nd Generations of ServiceMURRAY HENDERSONMurray Henderson, benefactor and civic leader, was born on January 1, 1883 in New Orleans (Algiers), Louisiana to a very impoverished family. As a boy he attended school to the fourth grade and then began working. Later he worked for the railroad and at 18 years married Olivia Calvin. They had three children: Lillian, Erma and Della. With a wife and three children, he was making $12.00 a week. Later he decided he wanted a career and was hired as a carriage driver for John A. Barrett Funeral Home where he served an apprenticeship under funeral director, John Acker and Mr. Barrett, embalmer.
In 1909 Mr. Henderson started a business in the backyard of his home at 324 Diana Street in Algiers with two sets of horses and a horse drawn carriage. In 1913, with the help of his brother Daniel Henderson and nephew Charles Henderson, the business moved to its present location at 1209 Teche Street and offered first class services until his death.His interest was not in merely accumulating wealth but rather in assisting people. His humility and love were so great that even today, members of the community, both young and old, continue to talk about his way of life, his ideals and his benevolence. During the severe influenza epidemic of 1918, he paid the medical expenses of many victims and provided food for impoverished convalescents. He even buried many of those who died from this devastating illness at little or no cost at all. Although a religious person, he was non-sectarian at heart in that he assisted any needy person or worthy project.As a civic leader, he worked untiringly to obtain recreational facilities and other community improvements. His humility was reflected in his desire to seek no praise for his work as he remained in the background while encouraging others to cooperate with him. For his outstanding community involvement and his generous spirit, he was honored with an elementary school in the Algiers community in his name, Murray Henderson Elementary School in 1959. Mr. Henderson passed away on April 15, 1930 at the age of 47.ERMA HENDERSON GIBBSAs a very young woman, Erma Henderson Gibbs and her sister, Lillian, took over the funeral home following the death of their father. Community service became her mantra. She remained highly visible in New Orleans, especially in the small community of Algiers, where she was born and grew up.
Her community involvement extended to the numerous churches, schools and organizations including the Boys Scouts of America, The American Legion, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Murray Henderson Elementary, and L.B. Landry Senior High School, where she volunteered since the school was built in 1932. “I didn’t have any children of my own, so I helped out in places that needed it,” Gibbs said. “My parents taught me to help those less fortunate and stay active in the community.”
Mrs. Gibbs was the first African-American female in the city of New Orleans to pass the State Examination for Funeral Directors and received her license on February 8, 1931. At the time of her death, she was the oldest living licensed Funeral Director in the State of Louisiana. She was a founding member of Crescent City Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association; a life member of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association; and a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Crescent City Funeral Directors Association. Her honors included citywide citations from mayors Victor Schiro, Moon Landrieu and Ernest “Dutch” Morial.LILLIAN HENDERSON DUNN Lillian Henderson Dunn was the eldest of three daughters born to Murray Henderson and Olivia Calvin Henderson. She was the sister of Erma and Della. She was the wife of George W. Dunn and mother of Dorothy Lawson, Constance M. Selico and Alex Selico Henderson Dunn.
Lillian was 28 years old when she was forced into the role of proprietor in 1930 after the death of her father. She and her sister, Erma, were left to keep the business going. She played an active role in the company serving as co-owner and president for 58 years until her death in 1988.Like her sister, not only was Lillian instrumental in the funeral home but also in her church. She was baptized at First Free Mission Baptist Church of Algiers, Louisiana in 1914, a church that was established on the Westbank of New Orleans by a group of slaves upon land that was given to them by John McDonogh. She was instrumental in establishing and funding the first black high school on the Westbank and also in the establishment of Murray Henderson Elementary School, a school named for her father.She was a member of the ladies Auxiliary of Crescent City Funeral Directors Association, the Equal Justice Club, The Business and Professional Women of the Westside Missionary Baptist Association, Past President of L.B. Landry P.T.A., Past Matron of Gretna Chapter Order of Eastern Stars.Our Current Staff: 3rd and 4th Generations of ServiceOur tradition of caring within the community while providing the very best in personalized funeral services is our main priority. Staff members are caring and experienced professionals who understand that each family is unique and has personal requests and traditions which are of utmost importance.We also know how important it is to devote community time outside of the funeral home. Therefore, each member of the Murray Henderson family is active in civic and service clubs, church and other organizations which impact the lives of our citizenry.