Some oblige by the saying, “Give people their flowers while they are still living,” but for Richard Estes, he received them while living and after his passing.
On June 30 close to 100 people came out to support the street renaming in Estes’ name right in front of his family’s newly renovated chapel between Queen Avenue North and Penn Avenue North in Minneapolis.
Fifty-seven years ago, Richard Estes founded Estes Funeral Chapel, Inc., which is still thriving today. Estes initially wanted to start his own chapel due to white owned funeral homes not accepting the loved ones from African-American families. He then went on to establish the business to specifically service African-American families in their time of substantial grief and loss. Early on, he worked as an airline skycap to ensure that he had capital for the chapel.
Estes’ nephew, Tracy Wesley, aided alongside Estes in inviting teens and gang members into the funeral home every quarter for years. Their angle was to show the youth and community members what gun violence does to their neighborhood. Welsley has since become the CEO of the Estes Funeral Chapel.
“People do not know how giving my uncle was in the business that we do. He had given so many people service that didn't have,” Wesley said. “For him to be recognized for that work that he gave to the community it feels wonderful.”
Though Estes had health issues, he still went to the funeral home weekly, up until he passed in 2013. Estes is now remembered as a man who was a tenacious philanthropist in the North Minneapolis community and a local hero.
Estes, who lived approximately eight blocks from the Chapel, was remembered as a generous giver. He was known to be an avid supporter of anyone in his community and he also donated caskets and his services to families that were in need. He also worked tirelessly to help combat issues in his community such as youth violence.
“He would be really honored. He would be very humble about (having a street named in his honor). He was a very lowkey person, he was very focused and very driven on giving back,” said Wesley. “That was really his passion, to help people when they are going through that difficult time.”