Vaughn Slater Sr., 71, founder, funeral home


Vaughn Slater Sr. was the founder of Slater Funeral Home. Under his leadership, he expanded the funeral facility and began training his children in the family operated business. He built many friendships along the years and was a member of the Prince Hall Free Masons and Alpha Phi Beta fraternity. The retired funeral director died Aug. 22. He was 71.

“He was an educational warrior,” Franchella N. Slater, his daughter, said.

“He was very adamant about going to school and teaching others.”

His daughter also said that he used that teaching philosophy when it came to his funeral home.

“[He wanted to have] information about how to plan for the future, information about how to keep your family just aware of your business affairs,” she said.

Slater was born on January 30, 1940 in Philadelphia to Chester and Geraldine Slater. His Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Earl raised him in West Philadelphia. As a boy, he accepted Christ into his life and was baptized into the Catholic faith at St. Gregory’s Parish. Later in life, he joined St. Rita’s of Cascia Church and Shrine in his South Philadelphia community. He was always eager to learn, sometimes joking he was a professional student. He received his early education in Catholic School until the eighth grade. Upon graduation, he was awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious Friends Select School in Center City. He was one of the first African-American graduates. He matriculated to Lincoln University but after two years in college, he enrolled in Eckels College of Mortuary where he graduated at the top of his class. He also wanted to serve his country. Therefore, he enlisted in the United States Army Reserves.

His family said he was a man dedicated to science. He began his working career as a chemist for the City of Philadelphia’s water department while working part time as a funeral director. A licensed funeral director in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, he operated Slater Funeral home in Salem, N.J. and his uncle’s funeral parlor in Bridgeton, N.J. In 1969, he married Loretta and from this union, two children were born.

Eventually, Slater moved his family back to Philadelphia where he started Slater Funeral Home. During this time, he entered St. Joseph’s College where he earned a bachelor’s of science degree. However, Slater kept pursuing his real dream of growing his business.

Not only was Slater a business man, he was also an educator. He went to Temple University to earn a double master’s in education so that he could teach or become a principal. He taught high school math and science throughout Philadelphia’s public schools. He has a no nonsense teaching style that challenged his students.

In his spare time, he loved completing cryptogram puzzles, listening to jazz and reading. He was also an avid coin collector, looking for rare “years” in his loose change. During holiday family gatherings, he was known for being the person to have at least three plates of home made food. He enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, but most of all, his grandson.

Slater leaves to mourn: wife, Loretta; children, Vaughn Jr. and Franchella; daughter-in-law, Crystal; grandson, Seth; sister, Sandra and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, friends and his beloved community.

A wake will be held August 28 at Slater Funeral Home, 1426 Fitzwater Street. The viewing will be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The presentation will start at 5 p.m. Services will be held August 29 at St. Rita’s of Cascia Catholic Church and Shrine, 1166 South Broad Street. The viewing will be at 9 a.m. The mass will start at 10 a.m. Slater Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

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