‘Our Family Serving Your Family’
Call it a motto or a mission statement, the C.J. Mowell, Jr. family lives it, and has since 1964. C.J.’s late father was the Carl J. Mowell in the company’s name, and C.J. was the son. Now a third generation is the son, David.
We got to know C.J. shortly after we moved here in 1971. He was chief of Fayetteville’s all-volunteer fire department and vigorously supported the efforts of Peachtree City and Fayette County volunteers to acquire modern ambulances and develop well-trained personnel. By running interference for us with county people who thought Peachtree City was elitist, he can very truthfully be called the Godfather of EMS in Fayette County, Georgia.
I used to spend a lot of time in Fayetteville, between my involvement with EMS and having daughters in school there. One day the car radio said Richard Nixon was about to resign the presidency, and I pulled into the parking lot of the funeral home, walked in through the back door, and ran upstairs to watch history with the Mowells.
The funeral home business grew slowly. The family grew fast. Two girls, two boys in just over seven years, all living in a two-bedroom apartment above the funeral home. Faye had her hands full keeping the noise down and the kids invisible when there was a grieving family on the first floor.
A second location brought the Mowells’ services to Peachtree City in 1995 and the old funeral home was replaced by a new one in 2006.
The children’s interest in the family business ebbed and flowed, depending on their ages. Her dad told me once that when Becky was 14, she evaded picture-taking that included the house; she didn’t want her friends to know she lived over the funeral home.
Yet she, like her siblings, found employment there evenings and weekends. Her brother David is now the “Son” in the corporation logo. He once asked his dad if he could drive the hearse to school.
This is a very special family, deeply committed to each other and the family business, as well as to the county. I doubt if there is a family in Fayette County that has not been touched in one way or another by them. Whether you have needed funeral services, or been asked to serve on a coroner’s inquest, or used emergency medical services, you’ve benefited in some way by their professionalism.
Two weeks ago it appeared that all of Fayette County came to the funeral home in Fayetteville to offer comfort to the Mowells. The afternoon visitation was supposed to end at 4 o’clock, but hundreds of people were still in line and probably didn’t get to the family in the chapel until well into the evening hours. We inched forward for an hour and a half.
This time it was different. The family which had always been there to comfort friends, neighbors, and strangers was now on the receiving end of the condolences. Becky Mowell Arnall, eldest child of Faye and C.J.; the sister of Ferrell, David, and Beth; the wife of Dr. David Arnall; mother of Rebecca, Madeline, Griffin, and Anna Grace; and friend to countless others was dead at 45. She had lingered since last fall in a kind of coma brought on by a “brain bleed.”
In 1977 we were on the receiving end when Alice died at 17. C.J. lent us a hospital bed for her last few weeks of life. He was so sympathetic during the nine months of her illness, and we were so grateful for his thoughtfulness.
“I don’t know how you can stand it,” he said more than once back then.
“You understand what we’ve been through,” he said to us now. Obviously, we do. Yet we don’t. It’s different for every family.
“I’m so sorry, C.J.” That’s really all we could say. “Faye, it’s not supposed to be this way. We’re supposed to go first.”
Our family reaching out to their family.