James McMullen, owner of McMullen Funeral Home in Columbus, died at his home Sunday.
He was 75 years old.
His son, Allen McMullen, said his father had been battling cancer for three years and kept working at the funeral home until about a month ago.
The son of a garage owner and a Columbus native, James McMullen worked more than 50 years in the funeral business, having worked at Striffler-Hamby before opening his own mortuary.
His son, as well as his wife of 52 years, Cecille, and daughter, Lisa McMullen Allen, have all been involved in the business.
"My father was very proud that we ran a family-owned business," his son said.
Asked how his father would like to be remembered, Allen McMullen said as a "person who was always there for people in need."
"My father helped thousands and always treated everyone with respect," he said. "He loved this community so much and dedicated his life to this community."
James McMullen, who just celebrated a birthday on July 23, was a member of Beallwood Baptist Church and the Lions Club for more than 40 years.
He served in all the chairs of the club. He was named Lion of the Year in 1973, District 18-E governor of Lions International in 1976 and chairman of the Georgia Sight Conservation Committee, Georgia Lions Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation.
He served on the board of directors of the Georgia Lions Eye Bank, Peach Bowl (now Chick-Fil-A Bowl) and was a certified eye enunciator for the Medical College of Georgia.
Additionally, McMullen served as chairman for more than 36 years of the Lions Club educational trip to Washington. This annual trip has carried more than 40,000 fifth -and sixth-graders from Chattahoochee Valley schools systems to the nation's capital.
McMullen attended Rosemont Elementary and was a 1958 graduate of Jordan Vocational High School. After graduating from high school, he attended Georgia Southwestern College.
He was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Germany.
In 1964, McMullen graduated from Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science in Texas.
In 1987, he and his family opened McMullen Funeral Home, which is now located on Gentian Boulevard in Columbus. He was a member of Selected Independent Funeral Homes, Georgia Funeral Directors Association and the National Funeral Directors Association.
Last year, he received his 50-year anniversary pin in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the funeral profession. At the time, he said it was "a privilege to have served each family with personal service."
Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Cecille McClellan McMullen; two children, Lisa McMullen Allen, and her husband, Stan, and James Allen McMullen Jr.; and four grandchildren, Elle Allen, Mary Mac Allen, Annie Jacob McMullen and Bowden McMullen all of Columbus. He is also survived by his brother, Edgar A. McMullen of Powder Springs, Ga.; nephews, Jeff and John McMullen; cousins, Jerry Boutwell and his wife, Barbara, of Villa Rica, Ga., Jeanette Ide and her husband, Terry, of Powder Springs, Ga., Cathy Jackson and her husband, Chris, of Molena, Ga., Phillip Harris and his wife, Ivy, of Columbus and Marti Mote Larkin of Lumberton, Texas.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.