Philly funeral director to head national trade group

Posted: September 07, 2011

When Gregory T. Burrell was 8, he served as a pallbearer for an 8-year-old friend who drowned in a Florida lake.

He became fascinated by the funeral process.

"I started going to people's funerals I didn't even know," he said. By 11, he said, "I knew I was going to be a funeral director."

Burrell, now 51 and the owner of Terry Funeral Home Inc. in West Philadelphia, was installed last month as president of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, a trade group for black funeral directors.

He is the 87-year-old association's first president from Pennsylvania. He officially assumed the office Aug. 3 during the association's 74th national convention, in Atlanta.

Burrell said his goals were to strengthen the association, which has 1,400 members, and to encourage young people to stay in the industry.

Young people join the business, he said, because they see it as an opportunity to make a lot of money, but often quit because it is time-intensive.

"You can't take weekends off," he said. "You can have 300 funerals a year."

He was elected corporate secretary of the association in 2006, then rose to vice president and then president-elect.

Burrell bought Terry Funeral Home, started in 1938 by Paul S. Terry, in 2000, and serves as its president and chief executive officer. The funeral home is on Haverford Avenue at 42d Street. He is married with three children.

Contact staff writer Robert Moran at 215-854-5983,,

or @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.

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