Former U.S. representative Charles Diggs said yesterday he wants to buy a funeral home in Washington and has had "negotiating sessions" about a possible deal with "two or three" D.C. establishments.
Diggs, a former congressman from Michigan, served 10 months at a federal prison camp after being convicted of mail fraud in October 1978. Yesterday, he said he planned a return to the profession he was "born into." He said that one of the establishments he is interested in is the Jarvis Funeral Home, one of the oldest and most respected black-owned funeral homes in Washington.
"There have been discussions with the principals and the legal representatives of that firm on the subject of purchasing the business," said Diggs, whose family ran a large Detroit funeral home, in an interview yesterday. "Anything that I would be involved in would be under my supervision," he added.
But Peggy Edwards, daughter of one of the co-owners of the Jarvis Funeral Home, angrily denied any possibility of Diggs purchasing the funeral home, which has been in the Jarvis family for several decades. Edwards said there is no possibility that the home would be sold to anyone. "Mr. Diggs has a propensity for getting himself in trouble," she said.
The Jarvis funeral home is often mentioned as one of the most prominent funeral homes in the city.
Diggs, who tried for two years to obtain a license to operate a funeral home in Prince George's County after being rejected by the Maryland Board of Morticians, said yesterday that he received his license on Aug. 5.
He said that in addition to his efforts to negotiate the purchase of a funeral home in Washington, he also is considering opening a funeral home in Prince George's County. He said he is currently negotiating for "a suitable property" in the county.
Diggs said he wants to purchase a funeral home in Washington because it is less expensive than starting one. Buying a home in Prince George's was not feasible because he could not find one serving the Washington area black community, Diggs said.
Diggs said he has not applied for a license to operate a funeral home in Washington, but said he does not expect a long legal battle similar to the one he experienced in Maryland. Diggs also said he has a funeral license from Ohio, which he said has a reciprocal agreement with Washington that would allow him to operate in Washington.
Diggs' father established the House of Diggs funeral home in Detroit in 1921 and Diggs ran it for a time. "I was born into the business," he said.