Lifelong dream leads couple to open Morganton funeral home

For Cody T. McCain Sr., opening a funeral home has been a lifelong dream, nurtured from the time he was a 4-year-old attending his great-great uncle’s funeral and fascinated by the ceremony and service. By age 8, McCain’s interest in the funerary process had taken hold, and he worked diligently toward his goal. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religious studies from Campbell University, earned an associate degree in funeral service and mortuary science and worked at funeral homes, building his skills and credentials with each step. In 2017, he was ready to lay the foundation for his own business where it all started — his native Burke County, where he’d attended his first funeral nearly three decades before. He gathered money from savings and family and found a Morganton, N.C., location, a former funeral home that had gone out of business.

But all his persistence ran up against an obstacle that took years to overcome — he couldn’t get a small business loan to help him buy the property. At least three times, lending institutions denied his applications. His plans presented too much risk, he remembers them telling him.

“It was very emotional,” McCain said. “I can pretty much say probably at least three times throughout the entire process, in my mind, I probably quit.”

But he didn’t, and what would eventually come next, as far as McCain is concerned, was “divine intervention.” With an online search, he found his way to Partner Community Capital and TruPoint Bank.

Partner Community Capital is a community development financial institution (CDFI) that collaborates with CornerSquare Community Capital to provide loans to small businesses. CornerSquare, a project of the NC Rural Center funded by Truist, works together with CDFIs like Partner Community and with minority depository institutions to purchase a portion of loans made to qualifying businesses. That helps to reduce the CDFIs’ lending risk and their capital to make more loans. In 2022, McCain was approved for the loan, which helped him acquire the Morganton property. McCain Funeral Home and Cremations opened a few months later. He’s built the business steadily through word-of-mouth and marking record months along the way. “It’s exciting to see that people are finally seeing what we have to offer,” he said. Looking back on his experience, McCain wishes other lenders had taken the time to really listen to him. “I wish they would have considered the depth and the seriousness of my vision and perceive that what I had to present was something that wasn’t thought of on a street corner,” he said. The representatives of Partnership Capital and TruPoint understood that, he said. “At first, before we got to the financial aspects, they took note of my vision, my experience and my skill.”

Going forward, McCain has big plans to stand out from his competition and grow the business. Someday, he might even pass it along to his 4-year-old son. McCain’s wife, Shaunda, is co-owner, office manager and aftercare coordinator. “This is definitely my career,” he said. “This is what I love to do.”