Carroll County’s own Tony Mullins has been honored as Funeral Director of the Year by the Virginia Funeral Directors Assocation (VFDA).
Mullins, funeral director at Vaughan-Guynn-McGrady Chapel in Hillsville, received the prestigious honor on June 21 at the VFDA’s 128th Convention in Portsmouth.
The VFDA recognized Mullins for his professional skills and talents displayed through involvement at the local, state and national level. The award is presented to a funeral service licensee member by his peers, citing expert leadership and professional integrity displayed within the funeral service profession.
Mullins served within the VFDA in various capacities, including Chaplain, President, Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer for the Virginia Funeral Directors Association’s Blue Ridge District, as well as planning continuing education programs and special events for the district.
“Tony displays a dedicated spirit in the name of funeral service for the collective good of our VFDA membership and possesses forethought for our future advancement,” said Lacy Whittaker, VFDA Executive Director. “Mullins is active on our association committees and serves on the legislative, conference planning and service of remembrance committees.”
Mullins works as manager of Vaughan-Guynn-McGrady Chapel and has been with the funeral home for 29 years.
“Tony takes his job very serious. He strives to make every family’s experience with Vaughan-Guynn-McGrady Chapel the most pleasant it can be,” said Mullins’ wife Tilda. “He feels all individuals should be created equal in death. He has worked diligently to encourage other firms to participate in VFDA at the state and local levels. He has worked extensively to strengthen the Blue Ridge District.”
Mullins said everybody in his family and several others knew about the award before he did. They kept a great secret as he did not know until the night of the presentation.
“I have never been so shocked n my life. The funny part was everybody in my family knew but me,” he said. “It’s a big honor and it was overwhelming – the first time in my life I have been speechless. I walked right by the award and didn’t pay attention.”
Mullins also finished up his duties as the Blue Ridge Funeral Director in June, ending what he called a “wild month.” He praised the entire seven-person team at Vaughan-Guynn-McGrady Chapel with making the state award possible.
“You can’t do this without everybody’s help in this business. It’s not a one-man show,” Mullins said. “Everybody from A to Z in this business has a hand in this. When they called my name and it was just unbelievable. There were people there with 65 years of experience in the funeral industry. That’s what got me. Looking at all the people, all the knowledge, some of them have seen a whole lot more than I have, and I have seen quite a bit. It was a great honor.”
Mullins said the funeral business is the love of his life. The business is a ministry in a lot of ways, he said, adding that he enjoys the job because there are so many aspects involved.
“We have families come in practically every day with funerals, embalmings and pre-needs. Our goal is to make the families as comfortable and peaceful as possible during the worst time in their life. We are working on the crematory now and getting it up and going and we are really looking forward to that,” Mullins said. “Basically there is never a dull moment.”
Most importantly, Mullins wanted to thank his family for always being by his side, even when he always couldn’t.
“I’ve had great support from my wife and kids for as much as they have missed in their life with me doing my profession,” Mullins said. “I proposed to Tilda right here up in the living room. I told her you are not just marrying me, you are marrying the funeral industry. And she has been 110 percent behind me every step of the way.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on [email protected]