5 things you didn't know about Ellis Wright

By NIKKI ROWELL,

1. He considers himself a homebody and loves to host and cook for family and friends.

2. Cooking is his hobby, but he has also cooked professionally, grilling steaks in a restaurant.

3. His father-in-law coached him in golf, and his brother-in-law played on the team with him. So, he met  and was close to them before he and his wife even met.

4. He has four grandchildren, three of whom call him granddaddy. His youngest grandson calls him “angraddy.”

5. Working in the funeral business in his family extends beyond Wright and Ferguson, as his great-grandfather worked as an undertaker in Missouri.

“Like father, like son” is more than an expression when it comes to the Wright family. Ellis Wright II, manager and funeral director at Wright and Ferguson, is carrying on a legacy in the funeral business that was first set by his great-grandfather.

This legacy is one that he has also passed down to his son, Michael, who will be the fifth generation in the field.

Wright, a Jackson native, attended the University of Mississippi before moving back to the Metro to work for a local bank. He began working part time with his father at Wright and Ferguson and made the decision to attend the Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science.

Wright’s grandfather, and namesake, started the funeral home with G. Warren Ferguson and John Payne in 1923 with the goal of providing a compassionate, caring service with beautiful facilities and fair, competitive pricing.

Wright’s great-grandfather also had a funeral business in Missouri.

The firm was later named Wright and Ferguson Funeral and originally operated out of a remodeled home in Jackson. Years later, in 1930, it was relocated to a new facility in downtown Jackson.

“When (my grandfather) built that building in 1930, it was the first facility built from the ground up to be a funeral home in Mississippi,” Wright said.

His father became the sole owner in the early ‘80s, and he began working with him in 1978. Now, Wright and Michael work together at Wright and Ferguson Funeral Homes, with three locations in Flowood, Clinton and Raymond.

He has served in various capacities at Wright and Ferguson over the years, with his first job being a “night man.” He would work through the night every other evening and report to the bank when he would leave the following morning.

Later, he took an assistant position at the funeral home while continuing to work as the night man.

“Then I really was there all of the time,” Wright said. “I basically was working all of the time. It was pretty neat though.”

Wright credits his father and grandfather with instilling in him a strong work ethic and passion for the business.

“I think my grandfather instilled in all of his children Christian values, as well as a strong work ethic,” Wright said.

Working in the family business has been beneficial, as Wright said he was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from his father along the way.

“He molded the way I work with people today,” Wright said. “He told me to always work on a higher plane, above board and fair, and I try to live that out to this day.”

These values are what Wright says has given Wright and Ferguson its reputation.

“We are always fair and make sure people understand all of their options,” he said. “I think that’s what Wright and Ferguson was founded on.”

Now, Wright enjoys working with his son to continue those values.

“It’s neat,” Wright said of working with his son. “He came to his mother and I one day and said he was getting his transcripts sent to Holmes for the mortuary science program. From a father standpoint, it’s nice that he thought my life’s work was something worth pursuing.”

When clients come to Wright and Ferguson, it is typically a time of difficulty and vulnerability for them. Wright says they work hard to ensure that clients feel comfortable, cared for and at ease.

“We’re usually interacting with that family for three or more days,” Wright said. “Certainly, we communicate with them after that, but we’re with them for those three days. I tell people that we try to almost become a family member to them for those days.”

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