About

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.

History

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 buys the business, passes it to the Odhams

Later, Russ Conner purchased part of the business and became a partner in the company. In March 1970, R.L. Cotten Sr. and R.L. Cotten Jr. purchased the funeral home and changed the business name to Cotten Funeral Home. They ran the business until September 1, 1978, when they sold it to James Ray Odham Sr.

James Ray answered the call to funeral service in 1967, at age 17. When he purchased Cotton Funeral home, he’d been a funeral director and embalmer there for years. Along with his sweet wife, Carolyn, he continued a tradition of caring service and innovation. In 1981, they built a crematory on the funeral home property.

James Ray was a pillar of the New Bern community, selflessly serving his friends and neighbors for more than five decades. He was a trusted advisor to countless families; many in the funeral profession looked to him as a mentor and example of what a funeral director should aspire to be.

James Ray and Carolyn eventually welcomed their son, Jimmy, and his wife, Crystal, to the business. Jimmy was guided by the values instilled in him by his parents—dignity, integrity and respect—and he passed them on to countless others, teaching and training apprentices, and providing opportunities for aspiring funeral directors to realize their calling in funeral service as well. The father and son created a generational impact that is felt to this day.

Jimmy passed away in 2013. At the time of his death, he was still leading Cotten Funeral Home. He was just 42. James Ray passed away in 2021. At age 71, he sat on the Service Corporation International Advisory Board and was the visionary behind the Dignity Awards for Excellence, a national program to promote excellence in community service and innovation in the funeral service profession.

A century of funeral service

Today, Cotten Funeral Home is a Dignity Memorial provider. After more than 100 years in business, we continue to grow, evolve and provide quality service to families in New Bern and surrounding areas.

Amenities

Location

Cremation

Service

Religious & Cultural

Other

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Plan a Simple Cremation

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Remember the one you love

Honor the memory of your loved one with cemetery flower placement.

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Express your sympathy with flowers & gifts

1-800-Flowers

View arrangements

Bouquet of flowers on a cemetery

Remember the one you love

Honor the memory of your loved one with cemetery flower placement. You choose the flowers. You choose the months. We do the rest..

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Learn More
Floral component background

Express your sympathy with flowers & gifts

1-800-Flowers

View arrangements

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Unable to find an obituary?

Not finding what you are looking for? Search for your loved one's obituary across any of our other locations.

VIEW OBITUARIES
Floral component background

Express your sympathy with flowers & gifts

1-800-Flowers

View arrangements

Vintage photos scattered

Unable to find an obituary?

Not finding what you are looking for? Search for your loved one's obituary across any of our Washelli locations.

VIEW OBITUARIES
Bouquet of flowers on a cemetery

Remember the one you love

Honor the memory of your loved one with cemetery flower placement. You choose the flowers. You choose the months. We do the rest..

 cemetery-flowers-logo

Learn More
Vintage photos scattered

Unable to find an obituary?

Not finding what you are looking for? Search for your loved one's obituary across any of our other locations.

VIEW OBITUARIES

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.

"My family we were very happy with everything. From the way our Mother looked,to the way we were treated the whole time. We really felt like family. Can't say enough, they made it easy for all of us."

Verified customer reviews Verified Customer

June 2022

"Very professional and caring. We felt no pressure to purchase extra services. We were very comfortable and happy about the results."

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June 2022

"Very professional, courteous and organized. Made a tough time a positive experience."

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May 2022

"Jennifer was great she canceled me, walk me through everything, and made sure everything was to Maya proper accommodations until the very end."

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April 2022

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