When Jerry Dansby was a child, he was afraid of the dark. When he grew up, he thought about going into the funeral business, but because most of the work is in the dark, he was hesitant to pursue his interest. One day, years later, Dansby realized there was nothing to be afraid of.

He’d spent most of his grown-up life working in the construction business. He found himself getting bored and burned out. He wanted to do something different and be more useful.

One day he decided the moment had come to change careers. He knew the man who owned a funeral home in his hometown of Eufaula. After a few conversations, Dansby left his construction job and began working at the funeral home.

He knew he’d found his niche.

“I followed my dream and I’m proud of it,” said Dansby.

He ended up working at a funeral home in Birmingham. His boss would soon be his wife.

“I went to work for Lynette,” he said. “We were both single and we started going out to eat together. At the time neither of us was looking to marry.”

The Dansbys were working at a funeral home in Birmingham when they received a call from Gerald Willis. Willis owned a building that had formerly been a funeral home, and he wanted to know if the Dansbys were interested in opening their own funeral home business in Piedmont.

The Dansbys came to Piedmont to check out the town and the building and, in a short time, gave Willis an affirmative answer.

The building at 707 Southern Avenue, became Dansby Heritage Chapel two years ago.

“We had always wanted to own our own funeral home,” said Dansby.

“We had always worked for other people in the business. It’s a sense of accomplishment to own your own business, not so much for the prestige or the money, but just a feeling of accomplishment.”

Dansby said he and Lynette operate their own their business with a heart and are thankful for the opportunity that God has given them. Without God, he said, none of this would be possible.

“We listen to people,” he said. “We do everything in a way to fit whatever people need. Some need a hug, some need to laugh and some people just need a shoulder to cry on. You find out what they need and you provide that.”

Dansby said needs change from family to family.

“We appreciate the people we serve,” he said. We appreciate their trust and confidence in us, and we hope we did something to earn their trust. We try real hard to make a difficult situation for a family as easy as it can be. I know it’s not easy to bury a loved one.”

Dansby said he’s happy he and Lynette chose Piedmont.

“We love this place,” he said. “We can’t imagine being anywhere else. The people here are so nice to us.”

Dansby is a member of Lozahatchee Masonic Lodge 97 and the Church of God. He enjoys working in his garden at home and in his flower beds at the chapel. He also likes to cook.

“I even clean up my own mess,” he said. “I make a mean 14-layer chocolate cake, but I’m not giving that recipe away.”

He does, however, share his recipe for Jerry’s Oreo Balls on page 4.

His family worked in the fields when he was a baby. His mother would go home to cook lunch for everyone and take him with her. He watched everything she did, and that’s how he began to have a fondness for cooking.

Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com