Family discusses how Pasco Gainer Sr. paved the way for Black community in Bay County

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–There was a time if you drove down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, many Black businesses once lined the street. While some remain, others are no longer there. But the Pasco Gainer Funeral Home remains. It’s been serving the community even during the most troubling of times. On Thursday, his family members shared his story in hopes it will never be forgotten.

Born in the early 1900’s as the son of an enslaved African American, Pasco Charles Gainer Sr. was a pioneer for the African American community in Bay County.

“He taught me my history, he taught me how to think, he taught me how to live,” said Jane Carey, Gainer’s Granddaughter.

Gainer started his first business in 1939, opening Pasco Gainer’s Hotel.

“Each of his business’ allowed Black people to experience a humanization process. To be able to go to a dry cleaner and be treated like a human being. To be able to go to a hotel and be treated like a human being,” said Mary Morall, Gainer’s Great Granddaughter.

Then in 1944, he purchased a funeral home for $1,000.

“During enslavement, Black people were not allowed to have funerals. The slave masters feared they would use that time to plot for freedom,” Morall said.

Gainer’s funeral home gave African Americans a chance at equal treatment. That business still serves Bay County 75 years later.

“Why has it lasted? Because it was founded in love,” Carey said.

Gainer persevered during times of racism and segregation, paving the way for those who came after him.

“So all these years later, the ability to still experience being humanized in a country that doesn’t always care about all its community members is important,” Morall said.

Although he died in 2002 at age 96, his contributions are still felt each day. His family members and business partners say they continue to carry on his legacy each time they walk through the funeral home’s doors.

“We care about the community, we care about residents in Bay County, and not only do we care about them, but we also want to make sure we give them the expertise in every aspect,” said Audrey Wilson, the General Manager.

To learn more about how the Pasco Gainer Funeral Home serves Bay County, visit

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