Darryl Hart, owner of Hart Funeral Service, dies at 59
Darryl Hart has held many notable titles in the community, from owner and director of Hart Funeral Services to a past board member of the YMI Cultural Center and Mission St. Joseph Hospital. But for those who knew him, he was a joker.
âIt was so much fun,â said Karen Hart, Darryl’s wife. “So many people see him as a great businessman, but Darryl was a comedian.”
Michael Steele, a funeral associate at the Hart Funeral Service, grew up with Hart, their fathers being members of the service together.
Steele has known Hart very well over the years. When Hart returned from school to his father’s business, Steele feared the funeral service would undergo changes in leadership and staff. Instead, Hart took Steele aside and told him he was going to put it in the rain to see if it would rust.
“I said ‘What do you mean?’ And he said ‘I’m starting to call you by your nickname: Stainless Steele,’ “Steele said with a laugh. “He said ‘Just kidding, you’re going to be here forever.'”
Darryl Hart passed away on July 1. Hart was a distinguished member of the local community and will be sadly missed by his family, friends and colleagues, as well as the community at large.
âHe was just a great individual,â said Karen Hart. âI am so ready to give and help anyone.
Born in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Hart graduated from Carolina Day School in South Asheville.
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Hart graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and then from Gupton Jones College of Funeral Service.
âHe was really an easy guy to work for,â said Alfred Blount, a 23-year Hart’s employee. “Easy to live.”
Carolyn Vinson, Administrative Assistant at Hart Funeral Service, had known Hart for 45 years.
âHe was an employer, but he was a friend,â Vinson said. “If I needed something I couldn’t get, I could always count on Darryl.”
After graduating, Hart joined his father at the Hart funeral service as a funeral director and embalmer. When his father died, he became the owner and operator.
âHe admired his father so much and wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and make the same impact,â said Karen Hart. “His father taught him to be able to help each other, help people and be a leader.”
Hart cared deeply for his family and reflected his values ââin his work, carrying the motto: “Our goal is to earn your trust.”
A member of three different fraternities, including the Pi Sigma Eta National Morticians Fraternity, Hart was also a life member of the NAACP.
Hart’s dedication and professionalism have earned him recognition and numerous awards. In 2000, he received the Director of Funeral Directors and Funeral Directors Association of NC, Inc. Professional of the Year Award. He later received the Appreciation Resolution from the Town of Asheville Adjustment Council.
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Hart went on to receive a host of other awards, both local and state level, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, Inc. 2006 Community Humanitarian Award and the 2000 Appreciation for Leadership as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College Foundation.
âWhatever he did, he left a lasting impact on those he was with,â said Blount.
According to Karen Hart, Darryl was always ready to help those in need. Being in the funeral business, Karen said Hart makes sure to give people what they need whether they can afford it or not.
âIf it wasn’t direct it was indirect, but he wanted to touch people’s lives and make a big difference,â said Karen Hart.
Hart is survived by his wife, children, William Hart, Whittney Williams, Jazmyn Williams and Daryl Jayda Hart; her siblings, brothers Osborne and Gregory Hart and her sister Donna H. Bennett; grandchildren Jaydon Hopkins, Xavier Hart, Jaylee Monteith and Jordan Monteith, as well as many other friends and relatives.
Hart will be buried on July 9 at 12 noon at St. Matthias Episcopal Church. Interment will take place at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.