Growing up, Nina Jones Mason never thought she would work in the family funeral business, much less run it. Fourth generation funeral director and manager of Eliss D. Jones and Sons Funeral Home directs her staff on final casket placement before a homegoing service in December 2018, in Durham, N.C. "I am proud to be the first woman in my family to manage and carry on the 83-year legacy of service at Eliss D. Jones and Sons Funeral Home," Jones said.

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The Eliss D. Jones and Sons Funeral Home staff takes pride in the personal care and attention they give each client and their loved ones. Nina often states that being a funeral director is more than a job—it's a calling.

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Funeral Services Apprentice Michael Garder Jones II holds a photo of Mrs. P. Bass as his sister Nina applies makeup to the deceased on Jan. 27, 2019, in Durham, N.C. "We ask the family to send their favorite photo of their loved one so we can see the deceased as their loved ones see them," Nina said. "This helps us accurately prepare the deceased for their final viewing."

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With the deceased fully prepared and dressed, Nina and Michael wheel in a coffin on Jan. 27, 2019 in Durham, N.C. "It makes me feel good when clients say, 'I know Nina will have my mama or my daddy looking right,'" Nina said. "Most funeral directors would agree their worst fear is having someone say the deceased looks nothing like they did when they were alive."

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Nina makes final preparations for an evening viewing in the chapel at Eliss D. Jones and Sons Funeral Home on Nov. 6, 2018, in Durham, N.C. Nina places a bleeding heart funeral arrangement next to the head of the casket.

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The team of funeral directors at Eliss D. Jones and Sons Funeral Home congregate outside of First Calvary Baptist Church on Jan. 3, 2019, in Durham, N.C. Nina and Michael search for the contact info of the florist for the day's service. "There are a lot of moving parts to a funeral," Nina said. "Although I would like for everything to go as planned, some things are out of my control. At this point, I have seen it all, and I am prepared for when things don't go exactly as planned."

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Before the sanctuary opens for family and friends to memorialize the deceased, Cynthia Gadson, head deaconess at First Calvary Baptist Church, takes a moment to view the body of Mrs. M. Waller on Jan. 3, 2019, in Durham, N.C. "I always like to come and pay my respects alone before the doors are open," Cynthia said. "As a deaconess, we have a great responsibility—we humbly serve God, pastor, church family and community."

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Nina guides the coffin of Mr. H. Justice out of the sanctuary of Mount Gilead Baptist Church on Nov. 6, 2019, in Durham, N.C. "The processional at the end of a homegoing service can be one of the most emotional times for the families," Nina said. "Seeing their loved one being wheeled out of the church for the last time can be overwhelming."

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Nina guides the coffin of Mr. H. Justice out of the sanctuary of Mount Gilead Baptist Church on Nov. 6, 2019, in Durham, N.C. "The processional at the end of a homegoing service can be one of the most emotional times for the families," Nina said. "Seeing their loved one being wheeled out of the church for the last time can be overwhelming."

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Nina guides the coffin of Mr. H. Justice out of the sanctuary of Mount Gilead Baptist Church on Nov. 6, 2019, in Durham, N.C. "The processional at the end of a homegoing service can be one of the most emotional times for the families," Nina said. "Seeing their loved one being wheeled out of the church for the last time can be overwhelming."

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