Jeff Sawyers began his career at the age of 16 in a line of work that most people will shy away from. It has been said that it takes a unique person to volunteer or work in emergency services when trying to save someone’s life, but one must be a somber person to deal with the end of one’s life, such as a funeral director.
Sawyers, 40, of Black Mountain, engaged his career in doing just that, by devoting his life in the funeral home work scene. His work ethic has paid off. He is now the new funeral director at Cumberland Valley Funeral Home in Cumberland.
“It all began when I was walking to football practice at Evarts because back then no one had cars and we had to walk everywhere we went,” said Sawyers. “One day as I was passing Evarts Funeral Home, I saw Lewis Bianchi out washing a car. He was an elderly man and I asked him if he needed any help. He told me no, but I went over and helped him anyway because I was taught to help your elders whenever you had the chance. I didn’t do it for any cash reward, but he insisted on paying me $20, which was a lot of money to a teenager then.”
Sawyers said every day when he would walk past the funeral home, Bianchi would let him wash cars and eventually he hired him as a groundskeeper, car washer and maintenance man.
“If there was an emergency and they needed someone to drive an ambulance, Mr. Bianchi would call me out of school, but that was the only reason he would allow me to miss school — I listened to him,” said Sawyers. “I learned a lot just by listening to what he told me.”
After a number of years, Sawyers began working for Mount Pleasant Funeral Home where he remained for 19 years.
“I learned from Gladys Laws and Dukie Jones, these people were special people who knew all about caring for others,” said Sawyers. “People in this county will never forget them. I learned this and I have taught my children what I call the three Rs - respect, responsibility and reverence. These things are important.
“I’ve always felt everybody is somebody and that somebody has touched the life of someone else. I believe one of the most important things in this life is caring for others. I consider myself a public servant and my goal in life is to be there for someone who needs me. It doesn’t matter what job you have in life, it’s important to care for others.”
Sawyers is a Kentucky licensed funeral director and is a member of the Kentucky and National Funeral Directors Burial Association.
He and his wife, Missy, have three children.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org