Owners Don and Patsy Waller took a leap of faith in 1977 and began Waller Funeral Home.
Patsy and Don Waller
Every year December 11 has a special meaning to us. On this date in 1977, the chapel of Waller Funeral Home was dedicated. This year, the approach of this date brings more than usual attention because it is a significant milestone—our 20th anniversary. On that date in 1977, we dedicated ourselves to the principle of our family serving your family’ with compassion, commitment, and professionalism. While many changes have occurred during these twenty years, our dedication to these principles remains.
One treasured memento of our dedication day is a Bible given to us by Don’s father (the late Percy Waller), and Miss Emma. The Bible, inscribed by Granddaddy Waller on the presentation page, remains in the prayer room. Granddaddy may have had much apprehension about our venture, but he never expressed this to us. He died in January 1981. We regret that he did not live to see the fruition of our dreams and efforts.
The decision to enter funeral service followed hard thought and soul-searching after I was not reelected Chancery Clerk in August 1975. I had become accustomed to the challenges of balancing a career with my role as homemaker, and Don and I immediately began praying for God’s leadership in finding an endeavor in which I could be involved. In time we were led to the idea of establishing Waller Funeral Home. After a long search and negotiations, we purchased from Dr. Harley Tripp the property, located on newly four-laned Highway 6 West. For the building, covering more than 11,000 square feet, Harold Nowell, of Kosciusko. kindly allowed us to use plans which he had used to build other funeral homes.
Our hopes for success were high as the chapel was dedicated. Our spirits were lifted by the wonderful turnout for the dedication. The crowd filled the chapel and overflowed into the hallways. Much thought and preparation had gone into our plans for the dedication service and open house and it was an exciting day for us.
But 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982 were long years. At one time I went to the funeral home for more than 14 weeks without a death call. The Lord taught me much patience. While we waited by the telephone, Bobby Phelps and I took care of everyday maintenance. It seemed the navy blue pin-striped suits the men had bought for assisting at funerals would last forever. Realistically we knew a town the size of Oxford was small for the support of two funeral homes, and the performance and tradition of the Douglass-Elliott-Overstreet succession was respected and admired. Only when we were able to purchase Elliott Funeral Home on May 1, 1983, from Edgar Harold Overstreet, did we begin to justify our existence.
With this purchase we were able to employ our daughter and son-in-law, Beth and Bob Rosson. Bob immediately began attending mortuary school. He did his internship under Bobby Phelps, who has been a faithful employee since the beginning of our business. Beth began working part-time, sharing office duties with our other daughter Susan, who worked with us during the early 80’s.
In 1984, another funeral home, Oxford-Thomas Funeral Home, was established. Again, two funeral homes seemed too many. We bought the Oxford-Thomas Funeral Home from Charles Thomas on September 1, 1987. We sold this property to Hodges Funeral Home, which had long served the black community.
We have made many improvements and additions to the building, equipment, and surroundings through the years. Major enhancements have included constructing the insurance office in 1979, assuming ownership of Oak Grove Memorial Gardens (now Eastover Memorial Cemetery) in 1987, and constructing a large addition to the funeral home in 1993.
From the beginning our morticians have been licensed, qualified, and well trained. CS. "Crack" Wilson, who had many years background in funeral service and who was also a licensed insurance agent, was our first mortician. Crack was "on call" for us when funerals were few and far between and he continued as long as he was physically able. His help was a tremendous asset. Presently Bobby Phelps and Bob Rosson are our licensed morticians. John Tatum is working toward licensing. Bobby began with us by directing traffic on the day we opened. He began attending mortuary school when he was hired. Along with his study of the latest technology and procedures, Bobby did his apprenticeship with Crack Wilson, benefiting from Crack’s many years of experience and his caring spirit. While attending mortuary school, Bobby sold burial insurance and promoted the funeral home with personal contacts.
Bill Briscoe, our former son-in-law, also worked with us in the beginning. He worked primarily on the farm but he did the cemetery work also. He is very capable as well as versatile, and I did not worry about details at the cemetery when he was responsible. Occasionally Bill, and very occasionally our son Andy, also assisted at funeral services.
Reluctantly, because of worsening inner ear problems, I gave up active daily participation at the funeral home in August of 1988. I was quite sad to leave but Beth and Bob and I had worked together for five years. I felt I left operation in capable managerial hands with an excellent staff, and I was pleased that "our family serving your family" was a continuing theme.
Beth’s role has expanded through the years. She helps with planning through follow-up. She is preparing to take the Mississippi Board of Funeral Service test in funeral directing early next year.
Trish Cousley, a licensed insurance agent, now manages the insurance office and assists in many other areas at the funeral home. Chris Mooney and Jerry Jenkins do the cemetery work. Others whom we have employed at various times include Howard Brummett, Syd Wolfe, Jerry Faust, Robbie Ash, Terry Robbins, and Shirley Cook Colston. We have been blessed through the years with good part-time on-call employees including the late C.B. "Charlie" Faust, Oren Crowson, and the late Wesley Glover.
As we go into our 21st year, we thank you for the confidence you have shown in us which has allowed our business to endure and to succeed. In farmer language, "we broke new ground," and we succeeded where it was said we could not. We thank God that he has led us in making the decisions and securing the personnel which make us feel good about the work we do. We rededicate ourselves and our facilities as we read again the accompanying Responsive Dedication used on December 11, 1977.
Don and Patsy
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from August 22, 1997, through November 12, 1997.
Mrs. Merle Shepard Thweatt / August 22, 1997
Sydney Dawn Brown / August 22, 1997
Mr. James W. Jackson / August 26, 1997
Mr. Orman Carl Ross / August 28, 1997
Mrs. Loise McMinn Ayles / August 28, 1997
Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Hammond / September 5, 1997
Mr. Hugh L.D. "Hudie" Tidwell / September 5, 1997
Miss Virginia White / September 5, 1997
Mr. Rufus Thomas Jones / September 13, 1997
Walter Louis Tharp / September 16, 1997
Mr. Frank Wilson Belk, Jr. / September 17, 1997
Mr. Walker Evenue Downs / September 20, 1997
Mr. James Bachman Barlow / September 24, 1997
Mrs. Linda Tidwell Carrero / September 30, 1997
Mrs. Phyllis Shaw Glover / October 5, 1997
Mrs. Helen Young Lussos / October 15, 1997
Mr. Bert Henry Mason, Sr. / October 15, 1997
Mrs. Mary Helen Rankin McCay / October 18, 1997
Mr. Leonard Calvin Blackledge / October 19, 1997
Dr. Allen Cabaniss / October 20, 1997
Mrs. Lois Grimes Jones / October 24, 1997
Mr. Russell E. Thweatt / October 24, 1997
Mr. George Stephen Toner / October 25, 1997
Mrs. Bertha Briscoe Home / October 25, 1997
Mr. Kyle Hampton Mize / October 26, 1997
Mrs. Bertis Watson Livingston / October 27, 1997
Mr. James E. "Lefty" Frizzell / October 30, 1997
Mr. Joseph David Rushing / October 31, 1997
Mrs. Ruth McGraw / November 2, 1997
Mr. Shelby E. "Bob" Aloway / November 4, 1997
Mrs. Blanche James Ragland / November 4, 1997
Mrs. Julia Wootton Wilson / November 6, 1997
Mrs. Beryl Bentonia Stribling / November 6, 1997
Mrs. Stella Mae Huggins / November 10, 1997
Mr. Calvin Russell Reeves / November 12, 1997
Each of us brings to the holiday season our own memories of the past, realities of the present, and expectations for the future. Our wish is that each of us will find a positive view of the past, a beneficial acceptance of the present, and hope and strength for the future. May God continue to be with each of us and fill us with His peace and love and may He strengthen our manifestations of love and good will toward each other.
We are mailing grief helps to those who have lost loved ones since last Christmas. If you know of others who might benefit from this material, please let us know.
Inspirational and dashboard calendars are available at the funeral home for the asking.
We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to serve the families of this community. The Waller Funeral Home Family wishes you a joyful holiday season and a happy new year!