Fall 2004


For the third consecutive year, Waller Funeral Home has received the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) Pursuit of Excellence Eagle Award. This mark of excellence honors funeral homes for their outstanding community service, technical ability, and professional integrity. 245 funeral homes were presented Pursuit of Excellence awards during the 2004 NFDA Convention & Expo in Nashville, Tennessee, October 17-20, 2004. Of these awards, 110 were the Eagle Award–the award earned by Waller Funeral Home, which was the only funeral home in Mississippi to participate in this program this year. Only one other Mississippi funeral home has previously participated in this awards program, and no other Mississippi funeral home has earned the Eagle Award.

"Pursuit of Excellence funeral homes provide innovative and compassionate care to the families they serve," said NFDA Chief Executive Officer Christine Pepper. "Through their commitment to their communities and the highest professional standards, these funeral homes are raising the bar for all funeral service providers in the country."

Achieving recognition in the Pursuit of Excellence program is a rigorous process. A funeral home must meet strict quality service criteria in nine categories of achievement including education compassionate service, technical skills, community and professional service, library or media resources, professional development, in-house staff training, and public and community relations. The staff of Waller Funeral Home worked diligently to fulfill the specific requirements in each of these areas, resulting in extensive self-evaluation and continuing improvements in services offered.

The National Funeral Directors Association is the leading funeral service association, serving more than 20,300 funeral directors who represent more than 12,200 funeral homes in the United States and other countries. From its headquarters in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and its Advocacy Office in Washington, D.C., NFDA provides advocacy, education, information, products, programs, and service to help members enhance the quality of service to families.

The acceptance of the award provided a proud occasion for Bob, Rocky, and Brett, who were in Nashville for the awards ceremony.


Life is filled with hurts. Besides physical pain which comes inevitably to all and constantly to some, we feel other kinds of pain–sometimes harder to treat than the physical. By recognizing this pain in others and recognizing and acknowledging our own pain, we can begin to deal with the hurt.

The pain of grief comes quickly to mind because of the personal losses we have experienced and because of the pain we see in families at the funeral home. Time can be a great healer but some of the pain never goes away.

Moving a parent into assisted living can be painful, both for the parent and the child. Understanding that the time often comes when an older person's needs cannot be met without outside help can lessen the unhappiness of this move.

Broken relationships cause great pain. Sometimes families, once closely knit and loving, become estranged because of events, circumstances, or misunderstandings. [My mother was known as a mender in her family. When she died, someone said, "Aunt Dorothy always kept us all together. Now who will do this?"] The pain is even greater if tragedy occurs before healing.

Divorce can bring intense suffering. Someone has said that in divorce there are no winners, and that, if children are involved, they are always the greatest losers. Families who have been touched by this devastating experience attest to the truthfulness of this statement.

Sometimes a long-time, dear friend no longer shows interest in continuing our association and sometimes a disagreement spoils a friendship. A close friend may move away, making contact difficult.

In a world that often seems too busy and too full of people, loneliness is the cause of much pain. Older people seem especially susceptible to this pain. A common cause of loneliness is the loss of health which causes curtailment of activities and/or confinement. In this case, along with the physical pain comes the pain of being left out by those busily pursuing their usual activities who are unaware of the loneliness or unable to keep connected. Sometimes older people have never learned to venture out. I think of our "Miss Emma," Don's stepmother, and how well she coped with living alone. Our joke was that when she was asked to go out, she responded immediately, "How soon?" We were thankful for the attitude which helped keep her active and sociable into her mid-nineties.

Some lonely people make visits to doctors' offices with imagined or exaggerated ailments simply to talk with someone. The best doctors realize the importance of talking personally with those who need an understanding ear. I am thinking of Dr. Gerry Hopkins, who showed endless patience with three of my aunts in their failing years. Amazingly, businesses actually exist to provide people to answer and listen (for a fee) when an advertised telephone number is called.

One of the loneliest of all places is estrangement from God. We need His presence to fulfill our sense of well being and purpose. To feel isolated from Him is our choosing. We must do the mending; He is always waiting for us to make this move.

In her book The Path of Loneliness, Elisabeth Elliot presents thoughtful consideration of the problems of loneliness and the ways of working through heartbreak – which she has personally experienced in large measure – to spiritual strengthening.

Career disappointments cause pain. Perhaps a business venture into which someone has put himself wholeheartedly fails, wrecking a dream and possibly requiring changes in life style, residency, schools, church, and neighbors as well as occupational uncertainty. Being passed over for advancement or terminated can create deep personal hurt as well as financial difficulties. Accompanying career disappointments may be feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, or failure. These deep feelings are often difficult to express even when someone is willing to listen and offer helpful advice.

Broken promises cause pain. We may think little of a promise we make which may be of great magnitude to another person. Especially important are promises made to children and elderly people. A promised call or visit which does not take place may be devastating to a lonely person and a promised treat may sadden a child. Other thoughtless words and deeds can bring pain and unhappiness.

I feel deeply for those who are hurt by false accusations. Many of these cannot clear the matter because doing so would hurt others. Years ago a friend gave me a small, spiral-bound, paperback book titled simply "Faith Is. . ." with the sentence completed on the following pages. The page she had marked "[Faith Is] allowing God to set the record straight when you have been falsely accused." Apparently the book was well received because a few years ago a twenty-fifth anniversary edition was published in hardback.

Just now we are mindful of hurts brought on by war. Lives have been changed and other lives doubtless will be changed by separations, deaths, and injuries. Many continue to carry their own pains from other wars.

We hurt not just for ourselves but for others. When we see a friend, a family member, or even a stranger suffering, we hurt for them.

Many other causes of hurt exist. We cannot eliminate hurt from our own lives or from the lives of others. To help others, we must first recognize their pain. Being with them and listening help remarkably. Keeping our promises is important. Little deeds of kindness–a card, a small gift, a hot meal, a ride–can sometime ease their pain. The holiday season may be an especially hard time for those who are hurting, so a little special attention during this time may help.

How we cope with our own pain is our decision. We can succumb and become unable to function or we can resist with determination and pray for guidance and for the support we need from our families and friends, and we can seek professional help or group therapy. And we can find solace in God's help: "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord." (Psalm 121:1).



A smile costs nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who give it. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he cannot be made richer by it.

A smile creates happiness in the home, promotes good will in business and is the cornerstone of friendship. It can perk up the weary, bring cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and is nature's best antidote for trouble.

Yet, it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. When people are too tired to give you a smile, give them one of yours. No one needs a smile so much as he who has none to give.

–Leslie Gibson from Laughter, the Universal Language


Beth Rosson and Trish Cousley were among the more than 300 funeral service professionals attending the 86th Annual Meeting of Selected Independent Funeral Homes in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, October 5-10.

"It is always a valuable experience to get together with our Selected Independent Funeral Homes colleagues," said Beth. "The meeting offered a variety of informational seminars and opportunities to share insights and ideas, which help our funeral home to serve the families of our community better."

Seminars focused on reviewing issues concerning the funeral service profession, sharing successful service program ideas, and providing practical business advice. In addition, members participated in the interactive "Headlines" session, which featured discussions on the impact of the U.S. Congress on the funeral profession as well as current operations for military funeral services from the perspective of the U.S. Army Mortuary Affairs. The Association also welcomed its new president, Richard Bibber, of Bibber Memorial Chapel, located in Kennebunk, Maine.

Founded in 1917 as National Selected Morticians, Selected Independent Funeral Homes is the world's oldest and largest association of independently owned funeral homes. The Association's nearly 1,500 members operate under the strictest standards and best practices in order to provide the public with reliable, high-quality funeral service and funeral-related information. As a professional association, Selected Independent Funeral Homes actively polices its members to help consumers obtain the best care available when choosing a funeral home. Waller Funeral Home has been a member of Selected Independent Funeral Homes since 1988.

"Over the years, Selected Independent Funeral Homes' Code of Good Funeral Practice has demonstrated our members commitment to providing quality funeral services and their understanding of the responsibility they have to the families and communities they serve," said George Clarke, Executive Director of Selected Independent Funeral Homes.


"Service is measured not by gold, but by the Golden Rule," is the credo of the International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR), a professional association of independently owned and operated funeral homes. Waller Funeral Home recently renewed its membership in this prestigious funeral home organization into which it was accepted in September, 1982. Order of the Golden Rule funeral homes must meet and maintain a strict code of conduct and high ethical standards.

"We are pleased to have the Waller Funeral Home as a member," said Karen Gentles, Order of the Golden Rule director of membership. "The people at Waller Funeral Home have proven for 22 years that they are caring, compassionate professionals.

As a member of the Order of the Golden Rule, the funeral home owners and staff have dedicated themselves to continuing the tradition of caring in their community."

"It has been our privilege to maintain ties to the Order of the Golden Rule," said Bob Rosson. "Being a Golden Rule firm has helped us to better serve our families in Oxford, to offer them peace of mind and integrity they can count on. That is absolutely key to maintaining good relations with our clients in this sensitive business."

Founded in 1928 and headquartered in St. Louis, the International Order of the Golden Rule is one of the world's largest professional associations of independent funeral homes. Its members are dedicated to offering reliability, fair pricing, and dignified, caring service to families.


We wish for each of you peace, love, and joy during the holiday season.

For those who have experienced the loss of a loved one since the last holiday season, we feel special concern. May the warmth of the season help heal the pain of your loss.

We treasure the confidence you have shown by letting us serve you for the past 27 years. We pledge our continued commitment to professional, sensitive service.

The Staff of Waller Funeral Home

The annual Memorial Christmas Tree Service cosponsored by Waller Funeral Home and North Oxford Baptist Church will be held on Sunday, December 5, at 5.p.m., in the Family Life Center at North Oxford Baptist Church. This is a community-wide event–everyone is invited.

The service will provide the opportunity to honor deceased family members and friends by placing ornaments on a Christmas tree. Bring a personalized ornament or personalize one of the ornaments provided. The service will include carol singing, special music, prayer, and a spiritual message. Refreshments will be provided–but bring a dish if you want to.

This service has been well attended in the past and those who have attended have expressed appreciation for this time of reflection and consolation during the holiday season. We encourage you to come.

Grief helps will be mailed to those families we have served since last Christmas. Please let us know if you know of others who might benefit from these.

Inspirational and dashboard calendars are available for pick-up at the funeral home as expressions of our appreciation and friendship.

The AfterLoss Credo

I need to talk about my loss.
I may often need to tell you what happened-- or to ask you why it happened.
Each time I discuss my loss, I am helping myself face the reality of the death of my loved one.

I need to know that you care about me.
I need to feel your touch, your hugs.
I need you just to be with me.
(And I need to be with you.)
I need to know you believe in me and in my ability to get through my grief in my own way.
(And in my own time.)

Please don't judge me now-- or think that I'm behaving strangely.
Remember I'm grieving.
I may even be in shock.
I may feel afraid. I may feel deep rage. 
I may even feel guilty. But above all, I hurt. 
I'm experiencing a pain unlike any I've ever felt before.

Don't worry if you think I'm getting better and then suddenly I seem to slip backward.
Grief makes me behave this way at times.
And please don't tell me you "know how I feel" or that it's time for me to get on with my life. (I am probably already saying this to myself.)
What I need now is time to grieve and to recover.

Most of all, thank you for being my friend.
Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for caring.
Thank you for helping, for understanding.
Thank you for praying for me.
And, remember, in the days or years ahead,
after your loss--when you need me
as I have needed you--I will understand.
And then I will come and be with you.

–Barbara LesStrang from AfterLoss, A Recovery Companion for Those Who Are Grieving

We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from August 26, 2004, through November 13, 2004.

Mrs. Lois Franklin Taylor / August 26, 2004
Mr. Stanley John Ursic / August 28, 2004
Dr. Jon Franklin Meek, Jr / September 1, 2004
Mrs. Mattie Ragland Billingsley / September 2, 2004
Miss Amie Lynn Ewing / September 4, 2004
Mrs. Martha Talley Goolsby / September 7, 2004
Mrs. Mattie Sue Conlee Avent / September 11, 2004
Mrs. Lucille Faulkner Livingston / September 11, 2004
Mrs. Louise Murray Avent / September 11, 2004
Miss Tonya Dee Bryan / September 16, 2004 
Mrs. Esther Wood Alderson / September 18, 2004
Mrs. Rachel Huckaby Brown / September 24, 2004 
Mrs. Ruth McLain McAdams / October 8, 2004 
Mr. J. T. "Jake" Smith / October 9, 2004 
Mr. Jerome Edward Woten / October 11, 2004 
Mrs. Katherine Bishop Knight / October 12, 2004 
Blake Hunter Reeves / October 17, 2004 
Mrs. Mary Hartwell Bishop Howorth / October 19, 2004 
Mrs. Sarah Adeline Bennet / October 21, 2004 
Mr. John Buford Jordan / October 23, 2004 
Mr. Robert E. Cook / October 24, 2004 
Mrs. Nora Lee Henry / October 28, 2004 
Isabella Hope Ingram / November 1, 2004 
Miss Lucille Sanders / November 4, 2004 
Mr. Justin Thomas Hall / November 5, 2004 
Mr. Jessie William "J.W." Pinion / November 7, 2004 
Mrs. Polly Durham Hill / November 9, 2004 
Mrs. Edna Belk Mize / November 13, 2004

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