Family, friends recall Laird legacy

Published 12:10 am Thursday, June 21, 2012


NATCHEZ — Friends and family members remember Charles Laird as a driven businessman who loved helping people.

Laird, 82, died Tuesday at his residence in Natchez.

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His son Dicky Laird described Charles Laird — the founder of Laird Funeral Home and Family Security Life Insurance Company of Natchez — as a self-made man whose “hobby was work” and who loved helping people.

“He came from nothing — from zero — and he worked very hard for all his life,” Dicky Laird said.

“He loved doing what he did as a funeral director, he loved his family and he was a real people person. He loved being around people, and he wanted to be out and around people all the time.”

In addition to the funeral home and insurance business, Charles Laird was the co-owner of River Park Hotel and Prentiss Motel.

Long-time friend Cappy Stahlman characterized Charles Laird as “an absolute Southern gentleman” and “one of Natchez’s top guys.”

“He was a top-notch corporate citizen and personal citizen,” Stahlman said. “He was a good person and a good businessman.”

One area where Stahlman said Laird showed his business acumen was in the investment in local real estate.

“He was just a guy who saw opportunities and capitalized on it, and he mostly invested his money here in Natchez when he could,” Stahlman said.

Laird served on the board of United Mississippi Bank for many years, and UMB Chief Executive Officer and Board Vice Chairman James Biglane said Laird’s drive and knowledge of local real estate made him an asset to the board.

“He was probably one of the best things for Natchez,” Biglane said. “He was very optimistic, and he thought a lot of Adams County and Natchez.”

A Mason, a Shriner and member of the Royal Order of Jesters, Laird was also a Paul Harris Fellow with the Natchez Rotary Club.

Being involved with charitable work was part of who Laird was, fellow Shriner Phil Vasser said.

“He was really a great man and he had a lot of good friends,” Vasser said. “(With the Shriners), he helped the crippled children, he did it all — he helped raise money for all kids of organizations.”

“He was on the Santa Claus committee; he was on every committee in Natchez.”

When he wasn’t working or giving his time to others, Charles Laird found a special happiness in the skies as a pilot, Dicky Laird said.

“He used to love to fly the airplanes — that was his joy,” Dicky Laird said.

Funeral services for Charles Laird will be 2 p.m. Friday from Laird Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow at Natchez City Cemetery.

Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. today and 1 p.m. until time of services Friday at the funeral home.