Learn About DeBaptiste Funeral Home
Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste, FD journeyed to West Chester, Pennsylvania beginning in the 1940’s to visit his Aunt Louise. Through his frequent visits he began a lifetime love affair with West Chester, Pennsylvania. As a young and energetic man with the desire to succeed, he vowed to return to West Chester to open up his own business. After serving in the United States Army, and graduating from mortuary school he returned to West Chester in 1954 with his young bride Inez Manning DeBaptiste and daughter Lillian L. DeBaptiste.
In 1954 Clifford and Inez DeBaptiste opened up the DeBaptiste Funeral Home. In 1964 having the desire and seeing the need for expansion they began construction of The DeBaptiste Funeral Home. This was the first funeral home in West Chester built with that intention. It was there that the tradition and motto began of “Up to date facilities, Old Fashioned Dignity and Everyday Economy”. Built by renowned African-American contractor Mr. Lawrence Derry, the doors of the funeral home were opened to the public during the Great January blizzard of 1965. The building remains the current place of establishment for the home office of the DeBaptiste Funeral Homes, Inc, at 601 E. Miner Street. West Chester, Pennsylvania.
In 1973, Inez DeBaptiste and Lillian DeBaptiste officially joined the family business as licensed funeral directors. During this period of growth and expansion they opened a branch of DeBaptiste Funeral Homes in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1978.
Despite the passing of their beloved wife and mother Inez DeBaptiste in 1990, Clifford and Lillian DeBaptiste continue to lead their business and their community into and beyond the millennium. In 2002 DeBaptiste Funeral Homes, Inc celebrate the new motto of Uplifting Life Through Service as they look forward to the third generation of funeral directors.
Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste, FD
The Honorable Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste, founder, owner and CEO of DeBaptiste Funeral Homes, Inc., has been active in West Chester and the Chester County community for over 40 years. Serving two terms as the Mayor of West Chester, his community outreach includes religious, civic, business and political arenas. Dr. DeBaptiste holds a membership in St. Paul’s Baptist Church of West Chester and the Church of the Holy Trinity.
Mr. DeBaptiste holds lifetime memberships in four branches of the NAACP, he served as president of the Chester County Private Industry Council from 1984- 1997; and is a veteran of the Korean Conflict attaining the rank of Sgt. Major.
In 1984 the West Chester Chamber of Commerce named him Outstanding Citizen of the Year. He has received four gubernatorial appointments, which include: Trustee of the Board of Trustees of West Chester University, where he also served as Board Vice President; the State Board of Funeral Directors of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where he served thirteen (13) terms as chairman. He holds memberships in all local, county, state and national funeral director associations and serves on the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of West Chester.
Elected Mayor of West Chester in 1993, Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste, FD is no stranger to West Chester. He has been active in West Chester and Chester County for over forty years, enriching West Chester, Chester County, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with his many achievements and talents. From his founding of DeBaptiste Funeral Homes, in West Chester in 1954 to his role as Mayor, Dr. Clifford E. DeBaptiste’s impact on the community-in religious, civic, business, and political realms- is clearly visible. He was awarded the prestigious Founders Award by the Chester County Historical Society, an award that has been previously given to only three individuals.
Dr. DeBaptiste’s business has flourished since its founding forty-seven years ago, at one point growing to a total of six funeral homes across the state. He has served in leadership roles in all county, state and national funeral organizations and has served twelve consecutive terms as Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Funeral Directors.
As mayor of West Chester, Dr. DeBaptiste has had an immense impact on the community. As Chairman of the Bicentennial Committee, he was influential in the success of a memorable yearlong celebration of West Chester’s 200th birthday in 1999. Dr. DeBaptiste has also been an ardent champion of education. He served as a West Chester University trustee and was a strong promoter of the University’s expansion. He was also an advocate of increasing African-American student enrollment and strongly supported the development of the Higher Education Opportunity Program.
From his three years of service in the Korean Conflict to his continual service in countless organizations, Dr. DeBaptiste has been a presence in the community and beyond. The American Legion Post, Chester County Private Industry Council, Pennsylvania State Board of Funeral Directors, Chester County Art Association, St. Paul’s Baptist Church Centennial Committee and other organizations have all asked him to lead them as president, chairman, or commander. He has a hard to beat, three-decade perfect attendance record at Rotary. The NAACP, St. Pauls, the Church of the Holy Trinity, and the YMCA have enjoyed his active commitment and membership. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Chester County since 1975.