Fall 1987


December 11, 1987 marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of Waller Funeral Home. The ten years have been filled with a variety of emotions and activities, but, as this milestone approaches, we are pleased with the decision we made to enter funeral service.

Our decision came after much prayerful consideration of possibilities for a productive outlet for me after I was not successful in my political campaign for reelection as Chancery Clerk in 1975. (I have never liked to use the word defeated: we are defeated only if we permit defeat to reign.) After deciding that funeral service was a suitable area of service for us, our first problem was finding a suitable location. The property which we felt was the most desirable was owned by Dr. Harley Tripp. Mr. Tripp however, was not interested in selling the property when I first approached him. I explained to him how Don and I felt strongly that, this property would be an ideal location and asked that he think about it. Two days later I telephoned him again and he said, "If you and Don would like to meet me out there, we can talk about it." We prayed hard for the property, and when Dr. Tripp decided to sell, we were excited about the possibilities. The transaction was completed, and clearing of the lot and construction of the funeral home began in March of 1977. Mr. Harold Nowell, of Kosciusko, had kindly shared plans which he had found very satisfactory for other funeral homes he had built.

After all the building was completed, although all the furnishings were not in place, the dedication and open house were held on December 11, 1977. Local county and city officials and representatives of all religious faiths in Oxford were invited to participate in this dedication. Among those on the program was Don, who spoke, I think, eloquently, of the philosophy and mission of Waller Funeral Home. His remarks are found elsewhere in this newsletter. As a statement of rededication of ourselves and our facilities to the glory of God. 

We were pleased in the beginning to have the late C.S. "Crack" Wilson as our on-call mortician. In 1978, Bobby Phelps joined us as an insurance salesman and began study toward his degree in mortuary science. Bobby passed the state Board of Examination and received his license in April, 1984. We felt that Bobby was fortunate to serve his apprenticeship under the supervision of a mortician of Crack’s many years of experience while he (Bobby) had classroom instruction in the latest mortuary methods. During this time of growth, Bobby also went about the county and city selling insurance and promoting the funeral home.

From the beginning, the work here has been a family operation. In the earliest months, our son Andy helped us on occasion, and our son in law Bill Briscoe also assisted with funeral services and has supervised cemetery work. Our daughter Susan helped part time in the office for some time. Later our daughter Beth and her husband Bob Rosson, returned to Oxford to join the firm. Bob immediately began studies for the degree in mortuary science and passed the national board and was licensed in December, 1985. Beth began work in the office and has taken over many responsibilities in that area.

We all had a lot to learn about funeral service, and we tried hard to gain quickly the competence needed to provide the best possible service. One of the things we had not known was that "new" funeral homes in small towns such as Oxford just do not have a history of success. The start was slow and we learned patience. Having spent sixteen years at the courthouse, literally right in the middle of activity within the city and county, the days and weeks between services (the record was 14 and 1/2 weeks) were long. Believing always that god uses whatever circumstances for our good to the extent we permit him, I listened to sermon and music tapes, read good books, and tried so hard not to let this time be wasted. A casket salesman gave me a book which contained a phrase which I believe was some of the best advice we received: "Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet." Many friends prayed for us, including, we were once told, the pastors of local Baptist churches meeting in a building on the lot adjoining ours which we gave the Lafayette County Baptist Association. We survived those years with encouragement from friends and faith that God was guiding our actions.

In 1977, Mr. E.H. Overstreet and his son Larry purchased the other funeral home in town, Elliott Funeral Home. After several years of operation, it became evident to the Overstreets and to us that it was difficult to provide adequate services profitably with two funeral homes in Oxford. Although funeral service is truly a unique business and cannot be considered from solely a business aspect, it must have sound business principals in order to succeed. Negotiations for us to buy the Elliott Funeral Home business were begun and were completed on May 1, 1983. Mr. Overstreet retained the real estate and the funeral services were phased into the Waller Funeral Home location. An insurance office , Elliott-Waller Insurance, is still maintained at the 428 North Lamar location of the Elliott Funeral Home.

Another funeral home was opened in July of 1984 by Mr. Charles Thomas, of Holy Springs, and was operated until we purchased this business on September 1, 1987. The business was combined with Waller Funeral Home and the real estate was sold to Hodges Funeral Home, thereby enhancing the funeral services which have been provided by this funeral home to the black community for many years.

With the purchase of the Oxford-Thomas business we again committed ourselves to meeting the challenge or serving Oxford and Lafayette county with the best possible funeral service. Our efforts during the past years have included; redecoration and refurnishing when needed, constant attention to housekeeping and maintenance, purchase of a new organ and sound system, purchase of a new van for transporting families, ministers, and / or pallbearers, expanded parking area and installation of additional lighting, purchase of a new funeral coach in 1983, improvement of pre-need and pre-planning programs, purchase of Oak Grave Memorial Gardens (Now Eastover Memorial cemetery), attention to communications through establishment of the newsletter and other personal means of communication, and development of a resource center of filmstrips, books, and other materials on coping with grief for us and others to use. I am constantly reading publications by organizations within the funeral industry and other books on death grief and mourning in an effort to relate better to each family’s loss. We also attend conferences and workshops such as the day of lectures by Rabbi Earl Grothman which Beth and I recently attended.

We have always felt that serving a family at time of death should be much more than selling a casket and conducting a funeral service. We like to keep in touch with these families and let them know we truly care about them in their grief. For several years on my desk, written in my personal shorthand is this reminder and admonition: "Remember it is not just another funeral." Each family is very special and should receive the ultimate in caring, professional service at their time of need. 

I hope that this very personal account of our experiences will help you to understand what our business and service means to us. We know "except God buildeth a house, the workmen labor in vain." We are grateful to him for the success we have experienced in these ten years and entrust the future to Him. 

So you see this month is very special for us as we remember our development in the funeral business as well as our annual commemoration of the birth of Christ. We hope that this season will special for you and your family too!


Commemoration and Dedication

As a part of the service of dedication of Waller Funeral Home on December 11, 1977, Don presented the chapel for dedication. Don’s remarks on that occasion are printed below inn honor of the tenth anniversary of that day and as a statement of our rededication to the purposes of "comforting the bereaved, honoring the deceased, and glorifying the God of all creation."

"Waller Funeral Home Chapel could not be dedicated at a more appropriate season of the year. Christmas time not only reminds us of the birth of the son of God, but also of the resurrection of the body from the grave.

Death has its awful enduring sting. That which reminds us that there is one who pulls the sting out and enables the bereaved to adjust to the loss, has a ministry that cannot be measured by any earthly means. Comfort is both the subjective and the aesthetic. That which appeals to both the emotions and mind brings comfort.

Much thought and prayer have been placed into the designing of Waller Funeral Home chapel for the purpose of comforting the bereaved, honoring the deceased, and glorifying the God of all creation, Maker of Heaven and Earth, redeemer of man.

We at Waller Funeral Home think of this business as a ministry. This chapel is the center of this ministry. The hub of the wheel symbolizes what the Chapel is to the funeral home. Without the hub the wheel could not be attached to pull the cart. Worship of god is the nerve center of life; it is that which enables one to live with confidence and unafraid.

When loved ones pass away, they deserve the best chapel appointments possible. This helps the bereaved to know that there are others who care, and that there is a God of beauty and love who far surpasses any earthly symbol that can be provided. Amid these surroundings we hope that the bereaved will be comforted, and that they will leave here feeling the warmth of the only one who can give them an enduring strength for the years ahead.

We sincerely present this chapel to those who wish to use it, and we dedicate it to the glory of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We earnestly hope that it shall remain the symbol for which it is intended."


We dedicate this issue of SEASONS to those who have died and whose families we have served from September 1, 1987 to December 7, 1987.

Mr. Wayne Gaylon Day, Jr. 9/5/87

Dr. James Otis Gilmore 9/8/87

Dr. Joseph Wiley Jackson 9/19/87

Mr. William O. Smith 9/22/87

Mr. Billy Wayne Duran 9/24/87

Mr. Adron W. Russell 9/27/87

Mr. Phillip Rickard 10/2/87

Mrs. Ruth Clemmons Phillips 10/3/87

Mrs. Robbie May Groves 10/6/87

Mr. Lillian Stewart Walker 10/6/87

Mrs. Carolyn Purvis Loyan 10/6/87

Mrs. Annie Hall Pratt 10/10/87

Mr. L.D. Clemmons 10/15/87

Reverend Joseph H. Hamilton, Sr. 10/23/87

Mr. Louis Humphrey Reed 10/24/87

Mr. James Buford Oliphant 10/24/87

Mrs. Corrinne Audrey Ray 10/25/87

Mrs. Alma Dale Huckaby 10/26/87

Mr. Julius A. Zastrow 10/27/87

Mr. Paul Wiley Hudson 10/30/87

Mrs. Rosa Jones Driver 11/3/87

Mr. Richard Glenn Kisner 11/5/87

Mrs. Ara E. Morgan 11/5/87

Miss Mary Iona Franklin 11/9/87

Mr. James Carlile Hartsfield 11/14/87

Mrs. Doris R. Yerby 11/18/87

Mr. Merritt J. Crane 11/18/87

Mr. Sylvan Allen Mosier 11/22/87

Mr. Quinton D. Henry 11/27/87

Mrs. Mary Sue Sandefer 11/27/87

Mrs. Georgia G. Featherston 11/30/87

Mrs. Hassie Betts Coaten 12/1/87

Mrs. Eveann Baird York 12/5/87

Mrs. Eleanor Heard Linneberger 12/6/87

Christmas Eve

Bells Across The Snow O Christmas, merry Christmas,
Is it really come again?
With its memories and greetings,
Wits joy and its pain!
There’s a minor in the carol,
And a shadow in the light.
And a spray a cypress twinning
With the holly wreath tonight.
And the hush is never broken
By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight 
to the bells across the snow.
O Christmas, Merry Christmas,
‘Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
With the carol and the song
If we could but hear them singing,
As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
Of the crown on each dear brow.
There would be no sigh to smother,
No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the "bells across the snow".
O Christmas, merry Christmas,
This never more can be;
We cannot bring again the days
Of our unshadowed glee.
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of good will.
With holy songs of glory,
Brings holy gladness still.
For peace and hope may brighten,
And patient love may glow.
As we listen in the starlight
To the "bells across the snow"

France Ridley Havergal

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