By Steve Peterson
On Tuesday July 1, 2014 Hartwell W. Ragsdale III, heard these words ring out in his ears, “You have been elected by your peers to serve as President of this organization, the California Funeral Directors Association (CFDA). Will you accept the responsibility as President? If you do, please say ‘I will to the best of my ability,’” and he did. Affectionately known as Skipper, Mr. Ragsdale currently functions as the President and CEO of Anderson-Ragsdale Mortuary, Inc. With over 150 people in attendance at the Hard Rock Hotel, Ragsdale talked about how his father, Mr. Hartwell Ragsdale II, played a huge part in his life and career. “Without my team [at the mortuary] none of this would be possible,” he said.
Ragsdale is a fourth generation mortician. At 125 years old, his mortuary is one of the longest African-American operated businesses locally and nationally. He boasts a long list of professional licenses, including state licenses as embalmer, funeral director, insurance agent and alcohol and drug abuse counselor. His civic service includes past president of the Diamond Business Improvement District and serves on boards for the House of Metamorphosis and the Jackie Robinson YMCA, and is also a member of the NAACP.
With approximately 650 members throughout California, Ragsdale will lead the organization which serves as an advocate and provides continuous professional development to funeral directors and companies serving the funeral profession. Awards given during the event were CFDA “Supplier of the Year” with over ten years of service, which was awarded to Emanuel Thomas, and Astral Industries and CFDA “Employee of the Year” with over 20 years of service, which was awarded to Lois Whitley, of Anderson-Ragsdale Mortuary, Inc.
Photos by Steve Peterson