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Geddes Family | Amistad Research Center

Name: Geddes Family

Historical Note:

Joseph Geddes was a civic leader, businessman, funeral director, president and general manager of Geddes Undertaking Company in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Geddes was the son of George D. and Julia Geddes. He attended the public schools of New Orleans and graduated from Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. After graduating he entered the funeral business with his father George D. Geddes, known as the pioneer undertaker of the South. The business was entitled the George D. Geddes Undertaking and Embalming Co., Ltd. After his fathers death, Joseph became President and General Manager of the company while also serving as the Vice President of the Unity Life Insurance Co., founded in 1907 as the first black insurance company in Louisiana. The Unity Life Insurance Co. was started by a group of black businessmen including Joseph's father, along with Aristide Dejoie, and William Roberson. The name Unity was chosen because it unified several different black burial relief societies. In 1934, George D. Geddes Undertaking and Embalming Co., Ltd. was changed to Joseph P. Geddes Undertaking Company.

Geddes was a member of the Board of Directors of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), Knights of Peter Claver, Holy Name School, National Negro Business League, Original Illinois Social Club, Autocrat Club, Independant National Funeral Directors Association and President of the Louisiana State Funeral Directors Association and State Committee of the National Funeral Code. Geddes was also the Chairman of the city-wide drive to raise funds for the establishment of Dillard University and Flint-Goodridge Hospital.

Joseph Geddes married Naomi Gorham Geddes and they had three daughters; Naomi Geddes (Mrs. Green), Gladys N. Geddes (Mrs. Smith) and Inez Geddes (Mrs. Alvin Jones). Inez Geddes married Professor Alvin H. Jones, a member of the faculty of Xavier University and was a teacher in New Orleans public schools and the mother of Geddes Alvin Jones and Alva Inez Jones.

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