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Carolyn Whigham

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Information about Carolyn Whigham

Profile image of Carolyn Whigham

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Funeral Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere other than work.
Favorite Quote:
That every talent god gave me I hope I have none left because I used it all.

Birthplace

Born:
1/5/1949
Birth Location:
Newark, New Jersey

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Funeral Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere other than work.
Favorite Quote:
That every talent god gave me I hope I have none left because I used it all.

Birthplace

Born:
1/5/1949
Birth Location:
Newark
See how Carolyn Whigham is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Funeral director Carolyn Whigham was born on January 5, 1949 in Newark, New Jersey to Marie Foster Whigham and Charles Whigham. She attended St. Mary’s School, and was among the first African Americans to attend Vailsburg High School. Upon graduating in 1966, Whigham enrolled at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia to study business administration, but left in order to pursue a career in mortuary science. Whigham earned her degree from the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service in New York City in 1986.

Whigham began working in her father’s funeral home, Whigham Funeral Home while still in high school. After leaving Virginia State College, Whigham married and lived in California for ten years. There, she and her then husband became successful real estate investors as the founders of Bennett and Bennett Associates, the largest black owned property management company in Los Angeles at the time. Upon her father’s retirement in 1986, Whigham became the director of Whigham Funeral Home. She oversaw the services for jazz singer Sarah Vaughn, as well as other celebrities from Newark, New Jersey. In 2003, she directed funeral services for John Russell Houston, Whitney Houston’s father. Whigham was called again by the Houston family to oversee funeral services for Whitney Houston in 2012, and her daughter Bobbi Christina Brown in 2015. She also oversaw the funeral of Congressman Donald M. Payne in 2012. She went on to host the “How to Conduct High Profile Funerals” seminars accredited by the New Jersey State Board of Mortuary Science. Whigham employed a predominately female staff, which included her wife, Terry Fields Whigham, and her daughter, Kara-Lynn Whigham. Over the course of her career as director, Whigham oversaw over 6,000 funerals at Whigham Funeral Home.

Whigham has been featured in The New York Times and the Star-Ledger. She was a member of the National Funeral Directors, Garden State Funeral Directors Association and Morticians Association, Inc, a professional organization for African American funeral directors. She also served on the New Jersey Board for the Statutes of Women. In addition, Whigham also worked with the Newark YMCA to establish housing for homeless people.

Whigham has six children: Stevland, Kara-Lynn, Aazim, Chastity, Chad and Nyle.

Carolyn Whigham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 28, 2017.

See how Carolyn Whigham is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carolyn Whigham's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigham lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carolyn Whigham describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carolyn Whigham talks about her parents' occupations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carolyn Whigham describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carolyn Whigham talks about her parents' marriage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carolyn Whigham talks about her brother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carolyn Whigham describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Carolyn Whigham describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her enrollment at Vailsburg High School in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Carolyn Whigham talks about her father's prominence in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Carolyn Whigham remembers her family's vacation home in Hackettstown, New Jersey
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her education at Vailsburg High School in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her activities at Vailsburg High School in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the black Muslim community in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carolyn Whigham describes the impetus for the riots of 1967 in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carolyn Whigham recalls the economic struggle of African Americans in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carolyn Whigham remembers the white flight from the Central Ward of Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the assassination of Malcolm X
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carolyn Whigham remembers her aspiration to become a funeral director
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carolyn Whigham describes her role as a funeral director
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her time at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Carolyn Whigham describes her early experiences of religion
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the riots of 1967 in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her influences at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carolyn Whigham describes her experiences of discrimination as a gay woman
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the tolerance of gay women in black cultures
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carolyn Whigham remembers her family's acceptance of her sexual identity
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carolyn Whigham describes her career at the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carolyn Whigham recalls the allegations surrounding Whitney Houston's funeral
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Carolyn Whigham describes the different types of funeral services
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Carolyn Whigham describes the staff of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Carolyn Whigham remembers a pro bono funeral for a U.S. military veteran
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carolyn Whigpen reflects upon the changes in the funeral industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the black funeral homes in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about conducting high profile funerals
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the security measures at funerals homes and cemeteries
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the racial segregation of the funeral industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carolyn Whigpen describes her experiences with Chinese funeral customs
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the contention among family members during funerals
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Carolyn Whigpen remembers the discrimination against people who died from AIDS
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the deaths from gun violence in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carolyn Whigham describes the services of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigham describes the services of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Carolyn Whigham reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the funerary customs of different cultures
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Carolyn Whigham talks about incidents of gang violence at funerals
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the City National Bank in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Carolyn Whigham reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Carolyn Whigham reflects upon her family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Carolyn Whigham describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Carolyn Whigham describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigham narrates her photographs