Returning to His Roots

David Peterson has lived in other places, but he has always considered Tennessee—the state where he was born and raised—his home. Originally from Greeneville, David attended Tusculum and almost went into funeral service at a very young age.

Because he comes from a large family, he has a lot of memories of being in funeral homes for services when he was a kid. “I always found funeral services fascinating instead of gloomy and sad,” he says. “This may have had something to do with my age since I probably didn’t have a full understanding of what was taking place. However, as I grew older, my view of funeral homes didn’t change much.”

In college, David took a developmental psychology course where a funeral director came to visit the class. Back then, this funeral director was the manager for a funeral home in Greeneville. “He talked to the class about death, grief, and funeral customs. He then led the class on a tour of the funeral home, both from the perspective of the deceased and that of the family,” he says.

This had a profound impact on David. “It was the first time I considered working in a funeral home.”

He thought about attending a mortuary school at the time, but he says the Army was also an option. “It was basically one or the other, and I ended up choosing the Army as a career.” But that didn’t mean David forgot about the funeral service industry. “Once I made the decision to retire from the Army, I looked at funeral service as a second career,” he says, “and that is what led me to where I am.”

David attended mortuary school in South Carolina, at Piedmont Technical College, and after he graduated, he ended up working in South Carolina. “But I really wanted to be back home,” he says.

Through a series of contacts, David was able to talk with Preston McKee, owner of Morris-Baker, about an apprenticeship position.

When asked what he likes best about Morris-Baker, David says it’s the staff. “The employees here are from many different backgrounds and experiences. Each has something unique to bring to the organization. The mixture just seems to work. We all seem to get along well and behave more like a family rather than co-workers. I believe I could call any one of them for something unrelated to work and still get the same caring support they offer to families,” he says. “You don’t find that just anywhere.”

We’re so glad David has chosen to work on his apprenticeship with Morris-Baker, in his home state of Tennessee. Welcome back, David.

WRITTEN BY: Shuly Cawood