CHICAGO (CBS) — Memorial services will be held next week for renowned South Side funeral director Lafayette Gatling Sr.

Gatling died Tuesday at the age of 81. He built Gatling’s Chapels, and helped thousands of grieving Chicago families.

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On Wednesday, his own family told us why he chose his path ln life.

“It goes way back, of course, to when he was a kid – 5 years old – he lost his mother. And so that’s when he first got the idea of providing comfort to families that have lost loved ones,” said Gatling’s widow, Marguerite Gatling.

“If there was a ladder out there, he was probably on it,” added daughter Marquita Gatling.

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“Not only did he like building physical buildings, but he built relationships,” Marguerite Gatling continued, “and one of the other things that he loved in life was singing. He sang with the Christland Singers. He sung his way into my life. We did meet singing, and we developed a relationship, so history speaks for itself.”

Mr. Gatling also made history – creating the first drive-through viewing of a funeral.

His services will be held Jan. 9 at the Gatling’s Chapel he built at 10133 S. Halsted St.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff