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At Cotten Funeral Home & Crematory, we have been an important part of the New Bern, North Carolina, community and surrounding Craven County areas for more than 100 years. Our caring team members are committed to providing you with guidance and support every step of the way, whether you’re planning in advance or have an immediate need for our funeral and cremation services.

We celebrate life

Reception area at Cotten Funeral HomeWe believe that each funeral service should celebrate the unique and special qualities of the individual being honored. Our team members will work with you to help create a memorable, one-of-a-kind tribute that reflects your loved one’s passions and personality. Adding a personal touch to a funeral or memorial can include everything from distinctive music and displays of photographs and memorabilia to professionally catered receptions and extravagant themed events.

Here for you in many ways

When the tribute event is over, our service to you does not end. We can assist in family matters such as veterans and social security benefits, insurance and other aspects of your personal affairs. Please don't hesitate to see how we can help you.

Trusted provider

We are proud to be a member of the Dignity Memorial® network of funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers. When you choose Cotten Funeral Home & Crematory, you not only receive the compassionate care you expect from a New Bern-operated establishment but also the value you deserve from the largest and most trusted network of funeral, cremation and memorialization providers.

Contact us

Signage at Cotten Funeral HomeYou are always welcome to visit us at 2210 Neuse Blvd. in New Bern. Our team members are available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please give us a call if you need immediate assistance or if you would like more information about our funeral and cremation services.


Cotten Funeral Home began not as a funeral home, but as a firm known as the Joe K. Willis Company, a local tombstone maker. The exact dates of when the firm was founded are unknown, but it began well before the turn of the century and has been in continuous operation for more than 100 years.

From tombstone maker to funeral home

The grandson of Joe K. Willis and Albert Willis Jr. formed a partnership with Frank Ballard to create a business that became known as Willis & Ballard Funeral Home. Albert went on to become a history teacher and never returned to work at his funeral home. He eventually sold his part of the company to his partner, Frank.

New owners take over the firm

Through the years, the funeral home changed owners again. Eventually Tommy Best and Billy Dowdy became partners in the funeral home. The new owners continued to operate under the name Willis & Ballard Funeral Home. During these years, the funeral home operated a public ambulance service along with its funeral home operations. Billy eventually sold his part of the partnership to Tommy. At this point in the funeral home’s history, it was relocated from what is now known as the Pugh Building in downtown New Bern to its current location at 2201 Neuse Blvd.

The Cotten family purchases the business

A while later, Russ Conner purchased part of the business and became a partner in the company. In March 1970, the funeral home was sold to R.L. Cotten Sr. and R.L. Cotten Jr. The name of the business was then changed to Cotten Funeral Home. The Cottens actively operated the funeral home until September 1, 1978. At that time, the business was sold to James Ray Odham Sr. He had been a funeral director and embalmer of the funeral home for many years. In 1981, Eastern Carolina Crematory was added on site at the funeral home.

A century of funeral service

Today, we are members of the Dignity Memorial network of funeral, cremation and cemetery providers. After more than 100 years of service, we continue to grow, evolve and provide quality service to families in New Bern and the surrounding areas.

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Religious & Cultural



At Dignity Memorial, we take our promises seriously. That’s why we offer a 100% service guarantee. We strive to get every detail right the first time, every time. If for some reason we don’t and you’re dissatisfied with any aspect of your service, we will remedy it quickly and fully. Learn about our Dignity Difference benefits.

Learn about our Dignity Difference benefits.

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Ratings & Reviews

Verified Customer Reviews

Since 2005, many of our customers have taken the time to tell us how we did each year via our Voice of the Customer program. Our star ratings and comments from families come directly from these surveys.

"The staff was very personal and professional and Walter, in particular, did a wonderful job at guiding us through the decisions we needed to make. I highly recommend him and your funeral home to anyone in need of funeral arrangements."

jd-power-verified-checkmark Verified Burial & Memorial Service Customer

October 2020

"Everyone at Cotten was so kind and helpful. Rex Bennett has been a dear friend of the family and has been there for our family through several deaths, including the deaths of all 3 of my Aunt Margie's adult children. This is something that no mother should have to go through but Rex helped and guided her through each of those services. Because of his tender, compassionate care Margie's last wishes were for Rex to take care of her when her time came ... and that is just what he did. We could have asked for things to have been handled any better!"

jd-power-verified-checkmark Verified Burial & Memorial Service Customer

October 2020

"Jennifer Hodges' expertise guided us through this process seamlessly."

jd-power-verified-checkmark Verified Burial & Memorial Service Customer

September 2020

"I can not recommend Cotten enough and especially Rex Bennet, our Director. We have known Rex for years and he has helped us through several deaths when he worked at the other funeral home. Though we had used them for years, we chose to come to Cotten because of him. We were not disappointed in the least. He met our every need and took care of every last detail. We couldn't be more pleased."

jd-power-verified-checkmark Verified Burial & Memorial Service Customer

September 2020

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Meet Our Team

Here for you when you need us.

  • New Bern Funeral Home Manager -  Cotten Funeral Home

    Rex Allen Bennett

  • 1052470

    Christopher Michael Bryant

    Funeral Director
  • New Bern Funeral Home Funeral Director -  Cotten Funeral Home

    Walter R Elks Jr.

    Funeral Director
  • New Bern Funeral Home Funeral Director -  Cotten Funeral Home

    Raymond Clyoe Smith

    Funeral Director
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