Veterans host event, construct monument to honor Rockwell funeral home’s work in their community

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, May 29, 2024

ROCKWELL — The families and staff involved with Powles-Staton Funeral Home have been steadfast in their continuous support of the veteran community, and on Monday, some of those veterans came together to thank them with a dinner and a monument on the funeral home’s property.

Troy Horton with the Frontier Coffee Shop said that his organization came up with the idea to thank the members of Powles-Staton for their efforts with a monument. Horton, who is a veteran himself, said that he shared that idea with Cecil Whitley, Salisbury lawyer and Vietnam War veteran. The two then came up with the design of the monument, which honors all branches of the military.

“It’s extremely humbling because we simply do what we do because of the veterans. We wanted to do something for them, to help them in a hard time of their lives and their family’s lives. We just try to help them a little bit and show our support,” said Steve Staton, owner of the funeral home.

Staton said that the organization began helping veterans approximately 15 years ago, when the funeral home became involved with an association called Veteran’s Funeral Care. That association showed the staff other ways in which they could help the community, and Staton said that their work has only continued to grow from there.

“You look around and see these kids, and they’ve got a future because of what these guys did and the ones that didn’t come home. So, this is just what we do,” said Staton.

The staff and families involved with Powles-Staton hold multiple events throughout the year that benefit veterans, and Horton said that he has worked closely with them for seven or eight years through both the coffee shop’s and the funeral home’s events.

“Just about every funeral home in Rowan County has helped us out, whether it’s with money or with other things for veterans. But this group down here, they fed us twice a year. They do so much to help out,” said Horton.

During the dedication, Whitley relayed a story that he said was just one example among many of the members of the funeral home going above and beyond to help out a veteran. A woman who had served in the military during World War II passed away without any immediate family that could claim her.

The members of Powles-Staton claimed her body so that she could have a military funeral. Then some of the employees searched for her old company and found that only one of them was still alive. Powles-Staton paid for that person, their caretaker and an administrator to fly down to Rowan County for the service.

“Do you know how many people showed up for this lady’s funeral when only one person there had ever seen her before? 473. That’s what Powles-Staton Funeral Home and their staff did,” said Whitley.

The monument is 22-feet-long, which Horton said symbolizes the saying of “22 veterans a day,” which means that on average, 22 veterans commit suicide a day, although Horton said that the number is almost certainly much higher these days. The group had wanted to put the monument six feet from the funeral home building to symbolize the saying “we’ve got your six,” Horton said, but it had to be moved further away for structural reasons.

Horton and Whitley worked with others on the concept of the monument for months in order to be able to have the event on Memorial Day. After the dedication, a dinner was provided to people involved with Powles-Staton and the construction of the monument.