Gladys Edwards Wallace, a West Side aboriginal who together with her late husband of 48 years, Vernon L. Wallace, helped construct one of the most well-respected funeral residences in the Chicago area, died on Jan. 22. She was 84 year old.

The couple built Broadview Wallace Funeral house in suburban Broadview with a partnership forged in common respect, trust and also loyalty, mourners recalled in the days due to the fact that Gladys Wallace’s death and also during she funeral, held Feb. 6, at flexibility Baptist Church, 4541 Harrison St. In suburban Hillside.

During one interview v Sharon McDonald, which was played during a on facebook live-stream of her memorial, Gladys recalled her and her husband’s route to launching your well-respected business.

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Born in Alberta, Ala., Gladys relocated to the West Side with her family, when she to be 7 years old.

“My father and I involved Chicago ~ above the train, and my mother and also brother came 2 months later,” she called McDonald. “I came due to the fact that my father and mother want me to get into institution in September, and also my brothers was just 4 years old, so he came later.”

Gladys recalled a tight-knit, religious family woven in what at the time was the solid community fabric of the West Side. Castle attended Friendship Baptist Church, 5200 W. Jackson Blvd., whereby Gladys’ father, Rev. John W. Edwards, to be an assistant pastor.


Both Gladys and also Vernon attend Marshall city High institution in east Garfield Park. They were both proud alumni. They met in the early 1960s, introduced through a common friend, wilhelm Carothers, who would go on to end up being a powerful Chicago alderman.

“Bill Carothers was my husband’s finest friend, and also we to be like family — Bill and his wife, Roberta,” Gladys recalled.

Gladys and also Vernon married ~ above June 28, 1964, in ~ St. Joseph Baptist Church, Gladys recalled. She worked for the U.S. Postal company in the human resources room while Vernon functioned at the prominent residence of Branch Funeral Home.

“They had three funeral houses ,” Gladys recalled. “They readily available us one apartment, rent-free, over , but at that time i wasn’t associated and I claimed I’d rather not.”

The couple met Danny K. Davis, the future congressman, in the late 1960s, Davis stated at Gladys’ funeral on Saturday.

“I very first met and got to know Gladys and also Vernon, or Vernon and also Gladys, as soon as we to be all part of the house of Branch Funeral Home. Vernon was running the house of Branch and, the course, Gladys and I both functioned at the short article office,” Congressman Davis said. “The Branches were leading civic and community, and business leaders in north Lawndale, wherein I lived.”

Davis stated the factor he described the couple as “Vernon and Gladys or Gladys and also Vernon” is because, “generally, at any time I observed one, I saw both.”

As funeral director in ~ the house of Branch, Vernon was recognized for his disciplined handling of funeral proceedings — he kept them “punctual, smooth and, above all, dignified,” Maureen O’Donnell composed in Vernon’s Chicago Sun-Times obituary.

Vernon, O’Donnell wrote, was a pioneer in the business, opened his own parlor come mortuary school graduates, offering pro-bono services for crime and also fire victims, and also burying “thousands of people, including numerous Chicago VIPs, in his 61-year career.”

One of those VIPs was Mahalia Jackson, whose funeral was attended by part 6,000 mourners at McCormick Place. The mourners contained “Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr. And King’s widow, Coretta Scott King.”

“It was just a huge, significant crowd,” Gladys called O’Donnell, adding that Vernon “was one artist at this, and also excellent. Everything had to it is in correct for the family.” 

In 1986, Gladys called McDonald, her husband went into partnership with West finish Funeral Home and also six years later, in 1992, they purchased what was at the time Broadview Funeral residence at 2020 W. Roosevelt Rd. In Broadview, their present location, renaming the Wallace Broadview Funeral Home.

“The factor did that was because he want to invest and save, so the it wouldn’t be any kind of overhead,” Gladys told McDonald. “He was such an remarkable person. We purchased that funeral house debt-free. We remained up nearly all night counting our money, so us were may be to purchase it. Ns was for this reason happy for him and he was overjoyed also.”

The same year when she and also Vernon purchased the funeral residence in Broadview, Gladys took a buyout native the U.S. Postal Service, v an eye on traveling the world and also being a housewife.

“We gained a half-year salary and all of our ailing leave,” Gladys recalled. “I to be a super of benefits and also I processed a the majority of retirements. I had 30 year of company at the time, therefore I decided I would certainly retire, too. I assumed I to be going to just be a housewife — a lady of recreation — and travel.

“But among my mentors, a lady that lived throughout the hall from me, once an initial got married <…> told mine husband, ‘You have to teach Gladys everything you know around the business,’ and also she said me, ‘Gladys, you better learn everything about the business, since you don’t understand what can happen in life.’ So, I made decision to learn more about the business and also my husband teach me everything I know around the business. He invested in me.”

The investment would pay off, with Gladys leveraging the education and learning she obtained at Wilbur Wright small College, amongst other establishments of learning, to help her husband develop one that the few Black-owned funeral homes in the west suburbs.

Rev. Marvin E. Wiley, the minister of rock of eras Baptist Church in Maywood and the man who eulogized both Gladys and also Vernon, said on Saturday the Wallace Funeral house is “one that the many respected, not only funeral homes, yet businesses in the community and in Illinois.”

Jamye Jeter Cameron, the 64th national president the the nationwide Funeral Directors and Morticians association — the country oldest and largest trade team of Blacks in the funeral market — said on Saturday that Gladys was choose a matriarch in the business.

“Our combination is more like family members than us are just association members,” Cameron said. “Mama Wallace, as I referred to as her, referred to as me among her goddaughters.”

Cameron included that Gladys had many “goddaughters” and young women she mentored and molded less through words than actions, which were contoured by her distinctive style.

“She was recognized to be a spicy dresser — constantly put together,” Cameron said.

After Vernon passed away in 2012, Gladys focused on securing his legacy by supporting her nephew, Rory Momon, the funeral home’s existing director, whose very own mortuary school education and learning was funded by his uncle, follow to the Sun-Times. Gladys also became even more comfortable in her function as the establishment’s matriarch.

“In Broadview, my husband and also I had living soldier in the building and also that do me much more involved in the funeral business,” Gladys said. “I would certainly be in ~ the house countless times by myself and would walk end the funeral home and the preparation room, wherein the bodies are laid up and also viewed and also buried, so ns feel very good and comfortable.”

Gladys received countless acknowledgments and distinctions for her long organization career. She was previous national president of the women Auxiliary of the national Funeral Directors and also Morticians Association, a recipient of the Business and Community company Award and also the M. Athalia selection Trailblazer compensation — both provided to her by the 100 Black females of Funeral Service, Inc. She to be an honorary life plank member the the group, follow to her obituary.

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“I assumed I’d it is in traveling and going anywhere the world, yet I’m an extremely content where I am and also I want the business to go on and carry ~ above the legacy that my husband left,” Gladys told McDonald. “When ns pass on, the legend will still go on. I desire to happen the torch come the following generation.”

In lieu of flowers, the household requested the mourners send scholarship donations to: 100 Black females of Funeral Service, Inc. — Vernon & Gladys Wallace Scholarship, c/o Mrs. Elleanor Starks, P.O. Crate 916404, Longwood, FL 32791.

Mourners can likewise send donations to: nationwide Funeral Directors and also Morticians Association women Auxiliary, c/o Ms. Cynthia Betts (Treasurer), 124 W. Quailridge Rd., Oxford, NC 27565.