On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, at the annual general session of the Louisiana Funeral Directors Association, Waylon Bryan Price was elected President by his colleagues from across the state. Price, a licensed funeral director at Southern Funeral Home in Winnfield, is a native of Winnfield and a Graduate of Winnfield Sr. High School. Being a 4th generation funeral director, he follows in the footsteps of three generations of family in funeral service. He is the great-grandson of R. W. Bryan Sr. and Janie Spurlock Bryan, the founders of Southern Funeral Home, Inc. The grandson of William E. Price and Evelyn Bryan Price. Price continues to work with his father Jerry M. Price and his first cousin W. Patrick Price in the family business.
The Louisiana Funeral Directors Association was formed in 1918 by unlicensed undertakers. They met to create a full-fledged profession from a group of tradespeople. These individuals are linked to today’s accredited funeral directors by a common desire to serve and continually improve the quality of service they provide. The Mission Statement: The Louisiana Funeral Directors Association (LFDA) promotes integrity in the funeral service industry through education, legislation, networking, and communications. Price has been an active member of the Louisiana Funeral Directors Association for 25 years. He served as Governor of the North District of the LFDA and, more recently, on the Executive Board of Directors of the LFDA. The association is comprised of 100 funeral homes plus allied members located throughout the state of Louisiana.
Traditionally, the President and other officers of the LFDA are installed at an annual joint convention of the Louisiana Funeral Directors and Mississippi Funeral Directors Associations held in either New Orleans, Louisiana, or Biloxi, Mississippi. Covid-19 disrupted this tradition. The inability of the associations to convene forced installation to be conducted virtually via “Zoom.” Price was installed by his father Jerry M. Price, who also served as President of the LFDA 2001-02. After installation, Price thanked the entire executive board for their support and confidence in him to lead the association for the ensuing year. He also offered a special thank you for the late Tim Dulaney, past President of the LFDA, for nominating him to serve on the Executive Board in 2016. The LFDA slate of officers for 2020-21 are President: W. Bryan Price, Southern Funeral Home, Winnfield, La., Vice President: Anthony “Tiger” Istre, Geesey-Ferguson Funeral Home, Crowley, La., Treasurer: Nicole Charlet Wilcher, Charlet Funeral Home, Zachary, La., Secretary: Joe Eagan, Leitz Eagan Funeral Home, Metairie, La., Sergeant-at-Arms: Troy Dennard, Gill First National Funeral Home, Winnsboro, La., Immediate Past President: Gary Tranchina, Honaker Funeral Home, Slidell, La., South Dist. Gov. Boyd Mothe, Jr., Mothe Funeral Homes, New Orleans, La., Southeast Dist. Gov. Marvin Schaffer, Rabenhorst Funeral Home, Baton Rouge, La., Southwest Dist. Governor: Michael Pool, Ardoin’s Funeral Home, Ville Platte, La., and North Dist., Gov. Amy Barnhill, Warren Meadows Funeral Home, Many, La.
Price speaking about the beginnings of his family’s legacy in funeral service said: “My path was set for me some 90 years ago, in Downsville Louisiana, when in 1930 a bolt of lightning took the life of two of my great-great uncles who were picking cotton. My great grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Bryan, were farmers in Union Parish at the time. They had given their two sons the responsibility of growing and maintaining a small field of cotton. The sudden and tragic deaths of their young sons, I believe, influenced their decision to leave the farm and enter funeral service when they purchased Southern Funeral Home in Jonesboro and Winnfield. In 1944 my Great Grandmother, Janie Spurlock Bryan, obtained a funeral director’s license from the state of Louisiana. In the decades that have passed, many things, socially and technologically, have changed; however, the principles of care and compassion for those that have lost loved ones remain unchanged.”
Price went on to say that funeral service has been dramatically affected by the COVID Pandemic: “Families have faced unprecedented difficulties in recent months. It is devastating alone to lose a loved one. However, the restrictions placed on funeral service has compounded grief and created many headaches and added emotional stress for grieving families. There are many families that could not enter facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes (due to CDC guidelines) to be with their loved ones that were ill. After they passed away, these same families were not allowed to have traditional visitations and services for extended family and friends. The circumstances have presented tremendous challenges to funeral service professionals. Still, we have met the challenges head-on in providing meaningful ways of honoring and remembering those that have died.”
Price also spoke about those that have supported and influenced his journey as a funeral director, as well as some of his personal beliefs: “I am so grateful to serve in this capacity. It is a great honor to follow my father Jerry Price and my uncle Larry Price who have both served, in the past, as President of the LFDA. None of this would be possible without the support of my family. My father Jerry Price, his wife Lisa Price, my first cousin Patrick Price as well as my co-workers Donna Spangler, Matt Miller and Mike Smith and all of the staff at Southern Funeral Home in Winnfield, Southern and Edmonds Funeral Home in Jonesboro and Kinner & Stevens Funeral Home in Jena. I believe that we are continuously shattered and broken, like glass, on the anvil of life’s circumstances, both good and bad. Through a steadfast trust, if we allow him to do so, God takes the broken pieces of life, puts them back together again, in a way that pleases him and like a stained glass window in a great cathedral, our lives, when complete, reflect the Glory of God.”
Mr. Price served for two years on the Policy Board of the National Funeral Directors Association, is a member of the First Baptist Church of Winnfield, a Free and Accepted Mason, a past president of the Winn Parish Fire District No. 3 and serves currently as Justice of the Peace for Ward 7, Winn Parish.