During WW II, James F. Morton, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, was a pilot in the 332nd Airborne Squadron. His best friend at that time, also a pilot, was killed during a crash as he piloted a P-40 fighter plane during training exercises. Upon recovery of the remains, James’ friend could not be viewed. This experience proved to be the impetus for the inception of the dream that led to Morton’s Mortuary, Inc.
James attended McAllister School of Embalming in New York and graduated in the class of June 1947, the first class after WWII. He then served his apprenticeship and worked for a local funeral home until he was afforded the opportunity to purchase property in the East End of Bridgeport. It was there he began work on the original structure of Morton’s Mortuary, at that time known as James F. Morton Funeral Home. James, his wife Margaret, and their three sons moved upstairs over the funeral home late in the summer of 1956. Later they had a daughter.
While James held down two full-time jobs and worked on the building during his spare time, Margaret E. Morton pursued and secured a funeral director’s license. Throughout this period in the history of Morton’s Mortuary, Inc. a reputation of compassion, integrity and dedicated service was developed; hence our motto, “Where true sympathy expresses itself in sincere service”. Later Margaret went on to pursue a career in politics and in 1972 Margaret became the first African American woman to sit in the Connecticut General Assembly serving 4 terms as a State Representative. In 1980 she took on the political power structure, winning the primary by 8 votes and after a lengthy court battle, went on to win the general election to become the first African American Woman elected to the Connecticut State Senate. Margaret served six terms in the Senate and rose to the plateau of Deputy President Pro Tempore, which is the second highest official in the State Assembly
Since then the business has grown and flourishes as one of the premier funeral homes in the Fairfield County and New Haven County areas. The funeral home has earned the distinction of being selected to become a member of the “Order of the Golden Rule”. This international organization selects as members only those establishments that have consistently demonstrated “respect for the reverent care of the human body, to those bereaved, and the overall spiritual dignity of man”, as well as establishing and maintaining “high standards of quality service and ethical conduct”. (To see Order of the Golden Rule – Standards of Ethical Conduct, click here.)
Of course, Morton's Mortuary has seen some changes since the business first opened its’ doors in 1956. There have been several additions and renovations to the original building. James and Margaret are both retired now. Their son, Robert L. Morton, who also graduated from American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Services, and holds to the same standard of ethics and dedication to service established over fifty years ago, operates the funeral home.
(The address of Morton's Mortuary used to be Currier Street, but the street has been renamed in honor of Margaret E. Morton, who served with distinction as State Legislator in the Connecticut General Assembly from 1972 to 1992.)