Stone Funeral Home opened to Brevard County back in 1923
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Rooted in the community for more than 100 years and making a dollar was not always easy for Stone Funeral Home in Cocoa.
It was one of the first Black businesses to open in Brevard County back in 1923, and they were faced with discrimination and segregation. It took a lot of heart and hard work for this family-owned business to get off the ground.
Condor Stone and his sister Stacey Stone-Dowdell are paying tribute and giving their utmost respect to their grandfather, the late Richard Stone. Now, 100 years later, he and his family’s impact live on.
“There’s not a lot of Black businesses that are 100 years old, so for no other reasons we’re proud of that,” said Condor Stone, the founder’s grandson who still works with the funeral home.
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“My dad loved Cocoa, my grandfather loved Cocoa also — and they just wanted the best for the Black community and for everyone,” said Stacey Stone-Dowdell, the founder’s granddaughter.
Richard Stone broke racial barriers. He was an active member of the NAACP and also the founder of the Cocoa-Rockledge civic league, where he helped Black residents register to vote.
But he and his funeral home business faced discrimination.
“There were no White or Caucasians who used Black funeral homes, nor did they allow African Americans to use their funeral homes,” said Jan Stone.
Jan Stone now runs the family-owned business after her husband Rudy, who was also a civil lights leader, died in 2004. Her stepson, Condor is funeral director at their Melbourne location.
They told news 6 the founder — Richard — became a funeral home director to better support his family after he was first a mechanic, but white patrons didn’t support his business.
Stone said there were no Black funeral homes between Jacksonville and Miami during those early days.
“That’s what made him decide to go Into the funeral business,” he said.
Cocoa City councilman Alex Goins presented the funeral home with this proclamation last week for the family’s dedication and service to the community.
“At a time where Black people were not treated very well, for them to last 100 years showed me how much respect they had in the community, how dedicated they are as a family,” said city Councilman Alex Goins of District 1.
A dedicated family still standing strong 100 years later.
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About the Author:
Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.