The Way We Were: Paul C. Naugle

The Way We Were: Paul C. Naugle
Paul Naugle’s father, Robert, on the right, with ambulance

There was never any question Paul Cameron Naugle, of San Jose, would make his career in the family business, even after spending time overseas during his six-year stint in the U.S. Naval Reserves.

Paul Naugle’s mother, Captain Helen Naugle, during World War II

Paul Naugle’s mother, Captain Helen Naugle, during World War II

The 1969 Wolfson High School graduate grew up working in his father’s business, Naugle Funeral Home, helping any way he could. From washing cars to driving the ambulances back in the day when funeral homes handled the service, Naugle was practically immersed in the mortuary industry from the time he learned to walk.

“In our time, it was expected we would follow in our parents’ footsteps,” said Naugle, now 67. “Every other weekend I had to work the emergency ambulances while in high school. On Friday nights when my friends went to football games, I would be here working, waiting for the calls.”

Naugle, a third-generation funeral director, said discussions of accidents, embalmings and funeral preparations were common dinner-time conversations. Even a visit to his grandmother’s home wasn’t much of a respite from such topics. Stella J. Naugle was also a funeral director – the first female so licensed in the state of Florida in 1914 – and actively worked in the family business until 1955.

Naugle’s mother, Helen, had her own set of “firsts” of which to be proud. She was the first Florida woman to serve as a captain in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II and helped run political campaigns of former Jacksonville mayors, and Governor Haydon Burns. A longtime member of San Jose Episcopal Church, Helen served as the first woman on the Church Vestry, and was a charter member of San Jose Country Club, Wolfson Children’s Hospital Auxiliary, and the Order of the Eastern Star Chapter #28.

Naugle’s father, Robert, served during World War II as a private in the Army Air Corps.

“Mom would get made at Dad because he would never salute her,” laughed Naugle.

The family lived on Ventura Avenue in San Jose near San Jose Episcopal Day School, back when it was called Grace Chapel School, which Naugle attended through third grade.

The area was rural back then and most of the homes were built in a Mediterranean or Spanish style. There was a big problem with termites in wood, he recalled.

Hendricks Avenue, where the funeral home has been located since 1937, was a two-lane brick road back then, Naugle said. There were once homes nearby and he played with the neighborhood children.

The 80-year-old landmark funeral home, wasn’t always at its present location. The business, which will celebrate its centennial in 2019, was established by Thomas M. Burns, who opened a funeral home at Hendricks Avenue and Miami Road, now Prudential Drive.

Patty Budd and Paul Naugle married June 26, 1971.

Patty Budd and Paul Naugle
married June 26, 1971.

Naugle’s grandparents, Vernon and Stella, took over the operation in 1928 after earning enough savings by running a transportation company from Central Florida to Jacksonville.

They changed the name to Burns-Naugle Funeral Home in 1930, and in 1937 they built the present facility at 1203 Hendricks Ave., a block from the original location.

Naugle never knew his grandfather and was 14, a student at the Florida Military Academy, when his grandmother died in 1964.

While a junior in high school at Wolfson, Naugle met his future wife, Patty Budd, on a blind date at a party at his parents’ creek house in Julington Creek.

“I fell in love with her the first time I saw her and she felt the same way,” said Naugle, stating they began going steady a month later. Patty is a 1970 graduate of Terry Parker High School.

After graduating from high school, Naugle joined the Naval Reserves and was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. He served on a guided missile destroyer, the U.S.S. Barney, which was assigned to escort the John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier from Norfolk to Piraeus, Greece during the Jordanian Crisis in 1970. He spent 18 months abroad in Europe working in the engineering department on the destroyer.

On June 26, 1971 Naugle was married to Patty Budd at Assumption Catholic Church by Monsignor Harold Jordan, one of his father’s closest friends. When the church celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013, the couple were among many who renewed their vows during the celebration.

After completing his military service in 1975, Naugle attended the two-year Gupton-Jones School of Mortuary Science in Atlanta. His brother, Robert, who was two years older, had gone to a mortuary sciences school in Miami before returning to work in the family business.

Patty and Paul Naugle

Patty and Paul Naugle

Paul and Patty’s son, Cameron, was born in 1976 and daughter, Paula in 1978. Cameron is now fourth-generation president of Naugle Funeral Home and Cremation Services, while Paula (Bides) is the director of mission engagement at St. Vincent’s HealthCare.

Naugle recalled some of the celebrities in the 1970s who would use their limousine service, among them Elvis Presley and the Jackson 5.

“When celebrities came to town we had to be on call 24/7,” he said. “We would pick them up at the airport, deliver them to their hotel or performance venue, then take them out to eat or back to the airport.”

The only memento found was a pair of sunglasses Elvis once left in the limo, Naugle said. “I once notarized a will for the Jackson 5 when they stayed at the Hilton, before they flew out of Jacksonville.”

The funeral home served its share of local celebrities, too. Naugle recalled providing services for Earl B. Hadlow, a local attorney for whom a center at Community Hospice was named, for family members of Mayor Hans Tanzler, and Governor Haydon Burns. “My parents were good friends of Haydon and Mildred,” he said.

Now in semi-retirement, Naugle enjoys camping and boating at the family lake house, riding his motorcycle, and spending time with his four grandchildren.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

You must be logged in to post a comment Login