A legacy continued

Published 6:16 pm Friday, January 22, 2021

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New owner seeks to breathe new life into venerable Franklin business

When Tonya Temple decided to purchase the former Elvin Vaughan Funeral Home in Franklin, she was guided by two primary principles.

“The first was to ensure that we honored and built upon Mr. Vaughan’s legacy of compassionate and dedicated service to the community,” said Temple. “The second was to ensure that every family has the opportunity to provide a dignified home-going service for their loved ones. Every human being deserves that.”

Temple, born and raised in Portsmouth and currently a resident of Hagerstown, Md., has deep roots in Franklin and Suffolk.

“My grandparents lived in Franklin,” she said. “My grandfather worked for Union Camp, and my mother, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, great-uncles and great-aunts lived in Franklin. My family grew up in Piney Grove Baptist Church.” Her father, brother and cousins live in southwestern Suffolk and grew up in Mt. Sinai Baptist Church.

Although she never imagined a career in the funeral home industry, Temple had a very personal reason for buying in.

“My family trusted Mr. Vaughan to handle arrangements and services for several relatives over the years.” She added, “And when I learned his business was for sale, I felt compelled to throw my hat in the ring and see what happened.” What happened is that in December 2020, she became the new owner of what is now known as Vaughan-Temple Funeral Home.

“I want people to know that this is still very much Mr. Vaughn’s funeral home,” said Temple.

Yet while she plans to always honor Vaughan’s legacy, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plans for upgrades in the future. One of her priorities is to update the business’s fleet of vehicles. “We’ll always have the white Cadillacs, though. That was how Mr. Vaughan set himself apart.”

After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II, Elvin Vaughan started his business in 1958 on South Street in Franklin. He was a well-respected member of the community, eventually serving on the school board and Franklin City Council. Upon his death in 2017, his daughter took over the business, ultimately deciding to sell it.

In addition to upgrading the vehicles and facilities, Temple also plans to make financing options available. “Too many families feel they have to settle for arrangements and services that don’t properly honor their loved ones,” she said. “No family should be forced to choose anything less than a dignified home-going because of their financial circumstances. We will do our part to ensure they have other options.”

“Our goal right now,” she added, “is to let families know that we are still here and are ready to provide quality, compassionate care during a time they need it most.”