Spring 2004


Having Someplace to go is Home
Having Someone to love is Family
Having both is a Blessing

The annual observances of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cause us to reflect with thankfulness on the blessings of family and home. Kinds of homes and styles of parenting vary immeasurably, but, with perhaps a few exceptions, they are the benchmarks of our lives.

Most of us live most of the time in the little world of me and mine, being scarcely mindful of others except those in our immediate circle of family and friends. We begin to think the rest of the world is like what we see every day.

Then we hear about the unfortunate, those struggling to exist day to day—the homeless and downtrodden—and we are shocked to learn they are in our midst.

Last year I was very touched by the picture and interview on the front page of the Oxford Eagle of a homeless man, David. He was being provided a room, food, and warm clothing by the Oxford Interfaith Compassionate Ministry. Previously he had lived with some people he had met in prison; then, knowing he needed to get away from that environment, he obtained permission to sleep in an unheated shed near the home of a family. They allowed him bathroom privileges and gave him food, and they were the ones who helped him get to the Interfaith Compassionate Ministry.

I met and talked with this young man and listened to his story. His mother had died when he was very young, and he came home at age nine to find that his father had left. From this point, David’s life was from one place to another. At the time I talked with him, he had been in prison half of the 36 years he had lived. Perhaps I saw what I looked for, but everything about him left a good impression on me. Men from the Church of Christ witnessed to him in his hotel room and he was saved. Later things did not go well for him; but as I think of him today, I think of how circumstances had knocked him down.

I became aware at that time of others in our community who were surviving on whatever help they could get from the Interfaith Compassionate Ministry and other compassionate people. One man was living in the Family Life Center of the North Oxford Baptist Church. In addition to lone down-and-outs, whole families were struggling.

Perhaps my sensitivity to their plight is intensified by memory of my brother Jim, who as a 35-year-old alcoholic, committed suicide. Jim told us of being in a rooming house in Nashville, where, because of his lack of money, he was sharing a room with a number of other men. One of the older men told him if he (Jim) had anyone, anywhere who cared for him, he should get to them. The next morning Jim pawned the watch our Grandfather Hardin had given him for high school graduation and bought gas to come to Oxford to his family who welcomed him with open, loving arms. Oh that we could have done more!

Most of us have heard of others who for reasons known only to them have left good solid homes and loving families and gone away. Some of these returned just as quietly as they left; others were never heard from again.

An extension of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Children’s Village is located near Water Valley, and the children attend Water Valley public schools where our granddaughter Mary Beth teaches fourth grade. Mary Beth has one of the children, Rowdy, in her class. She and her husband Chad are visiting parents for Rowdy, who is 12. Rowdy has acquired quite a large extended family, and he has endeared himself to us all. During one of his recent visits, two-year-old great-granddaughter Murphy Grace persuaded her mother by saying if she would let Rowdy rock her she would open her eyes "not one time." As I look at Easter pictures, I am touched by Rowdy’s proudly taking his place by Chad in their family picture then again in the picture of the entire family.

As we have traveled to places where homelessness is more prevalent, I have been shocked to see what goes on. On a business trip to Washington, D.C., we checked on a gentlemen in our group who had been rushed to George Washington University Hospital. As we waited anxiously in the emergency waiting room which was only a few steps down from the sidewalk, a huge lady in a floor-sweeping coat, carrying as many bundles as she could and apparently wearing all she could get on her body, came in looking neither right nor left. She went into the ladies room. She was gone a long time and when she came out, I realized she was a bag woman.

In another distant city we were told not to make eye contact with the begging children or we would be unable to walk away. In still another city we were making our way to a magnificent cathedral and were cautioned to hold our valuables securely near our bodies. The gypsy children in the shadows were pointed out. We were told that we would not see them as they approached. They have been taught to watch the tourists and move quickly.

I am told that many homeless in our cities live in box cities, often located beneath bridges. I have read of families searching for someone who made their way through these box cities and were told those whom they sought had been there but moved on. Truth? Who knows!

Some homeless consider themselves lucky to have a car of some sort to live in.

The more we are bound in family togetherness and love of home, the more we feel sorrow for those who because of circumstances—or their own decisions—have no home. We look with compassion at them, help when it seems appropriate, and look with admiration at those trained to make calculated judgement about how to handle

Robert T. "Bob" Rosson, Jr., CFSP, CPC, is serving as a volunteer representative on the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) Communications Committee.

"Robert Rosson was appointed to serve on the Communications Committee because of an incredible ability to enthusiastically raise the bar of excellence." said NFDA Chief Executive Officer Christine Pepper. "As a leader in the funeral service profession, Robert also promotes NFDA’ s commitment to planning for meaningful funerals and enhancing the quality of service to families."

As a member of the Communications Committee, Bob will assist in the development of strategic action plans for communication with members, consumers, other caregiver groups, and the media As part of his committee assignment, Bob also serves on the Pursuit of Excellence Work Group, which assists in the promotion and administration of NFDA’s premiere awards program.

NFDA 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, DC, NFDA provides advocacy, education, information, products, programs, and services to help members enhance the quality of service to families.

My mother died when I was 19 years old. That was 31 years ago, but it seems like just yesterday.

At the time I tried to be stoic and be a man. That was a mistake.

In American today, most of us do not know how to grieve. Death is not an everyday experience, but we act like it is. We are uncomfortable knowing what to say whether we are the one with the loss or the one offering comfort. As a result we often talk about the trivial and the mundane while our grief is buried deep inside us.

Eight years ago, Scott Wallace died. He was the 3-year-old son of Febe, my physician partner at the Church Health Center. He died only a week after his diagnosis with leukemia It was an awful experience for us all.

After his death people did not know what to say to Febe. They talked about everything except Scott. However, Febe was very clear about what she wanted. She said, "I don’t want to act as though he never lived. I want to talk about his life—not his death." Talking about the one who has died is one of the best ways to begin to work through our grief. It is not a morbid thing to do. It is instead life affirming.

I love telling the story of my mother going on a raft trip with my friends while she was receiving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. Although she died soon afterward, her celebration of life inspires me to this day.

Along with talk, I am also sure that people need touch. When I was 19, I was too foolish to let people hold me and comfort me as a way of dealing with my sadness. Today, when a patient of mine dies I make sure that I hug the person’s spouse or child the first chance I get.

It is not easy for many of us to let down our guard to be embraced, but it is a powerful source of healing.

And finally, we must realize that grief can be healed only through time. When someone returns to work a few days after the funeral, never expect him or her to be back to normal any time soon.
Death is painful and the wounds it causes are felt deep in the soul. A few days, a few weeks, a few months, are never enough for the grief to disappear. Six months is the estimated time for someone who is grieving to be able to manage life again. For each of us it’s different.

If you are depressed, attend a grief support group at your congregation, talk to your pastor or a counselor ahd read books about grieving. If you have a friend who is showing signs of depression, send notes and get him or her out of the house. Grief can be unbearable, but there is help.

Death of course is a part of life. To not see it as such is to miss something of the beauty of our fleeting existence.

Therefore to hold on to grief indefinitely is not healthy for anyone. Life goes on. There is more love to be had. Grieving freely will open the door to love again.

— Dr. G. Scott Morris, Licensed Family Practitioner and Founder of
The Church Health Center
Associate Minister of St. Johns United Methodist Church

As in some past issues of Seasons, we are in this issue answering some questions we are frequently asked.

Has the increased competition in funeral service in the Oxford area affected your mode of operation? 
Our response to increased competition is to continue doing our very best to help families through the very difficult time of the loss of a loved one.

The foundation of our operation has always been reverence for the dead and honest and compassionate care for the living. The Golden Rule, professionalism, and ethics are the foundation of our operation.

We have always kept a careful oversight of our facilities. Maintenance and improvements have been constant during our 27 years in business. A look at our past quarterly newsletters, which capture highlights of our development, show constant improvements and additions to the facilities and services at Waller Funeral Home. Recent technology has made possible services unimaginable in early years of operation.

Obviously we are not unaware of other funeral homes in the area, and we have made comparative examination of our operation—especially our financial policies—and we are satisfied that our prices are in line with or below those for the same quality items at other area funeral homes.

More than competition, our successful efforts during the last years to earn two Eagle Awards have made us conscious of ways to be more effective to our families and to the community
We are proud to be a part of this community and pledge continued commitment to high quality, ethical, compassionate, professional funeral home service.

What determines the price of funeral service? 
The casket and services selected by the family determine the price. You can select graveside service only or a full service with visitation, chapel or church service, and graveside service. We provide without extra cost: VHS tape of funeral services in our chapel, memorial video, personalized memorial folders, printed programs (order of service), picture boards, laminated obituaries, photographic record of flowers received at the funeral home, family car, piano and organ in chapel, large collection and diverse selection of music CD’s. (Families can also bring their own tapes, CD’s, or musical instruments.)

Additional costs may include outer burial receptacles (vault or box to contain casket at burial), death certificates, opening and closing the grave, honorariums for ministers and musicians, charges by newspapers for obituaries if applicable (Most newspapers do not charge for regular obituaries.). We also have clothing available for purchase.

How can I get information about prices and services? 
All funeral homes are required by law to have a General Price List, Casket Price List, and Outer Burial Container Price List. Funeral homes are required to give you a copy of the General Price List for your retention, and a Casket and Outer Burial Container Price List if requested. Information about our facilities, services, and merchandise is available on our website (www.wallerfuneralhome.com). We have pricing information for many funeral homes in this area, and we can help you make a valid comparison of prices—being careful to compare the same qualities of merchandise and to check for hidden costs, for example, extra charges on weekends. We offer the same fair pricing to everyone—no discounts, which in reality create increased prices or penalties for some families.

We provide a wide range of prices to suit the needs and preferences of our diverse community. We do not use bait-and-switch techniques—advertising a low price to get you in and then trying to upgrade your choice. We do not exert any pressure to influence any choice of merchandise or service.

Why do you recommend preplanning and prearrangement so strongly? 
Making preparation in advance will ease stress at the time of death. As we work with families, we see how much preneed decisions help. More thoughtful consideration can be given to decisions when the pressures of time and grief are not present.

Do I have to pay in advance? 
No, but prepaying takes additional stress off the family. It also locks the cost in at current prices.

Are prearrangements transferable? 
Our trust prearrangements are nonrefundable, nontransferable, and irrevocable. Do not be misled by what others may tell you. Our contracts do not allow for the selection of another funeral provider or for the refund of any sums paid under the preneed agreement. We place 100 percent of prearrangement funds in trust with the Mississippi Funeral Directors Trust, which is administered by Merrill Lynch. We do not receive any benefits from prearrangements until death. No withdrawals are permitted until death and then only by us to pay funeral expenses. The only exception to this is in the event a funeral occurs more than 50 miles from Oxford and we determine that the distance renders it impractical for us to perform the funeral service.

Our insurance-funded prearrangements are portable and transferable.

If you have preneed plans with a funeral home, check with that funeral home to see what your options are.

Do all funeral homes deposit 100 percent of preneed funds into a trust fund?
No. Mississippi Law requires only 50 percent of preneed money be placed in trust. When our depository (Mississippi Funeral Directors Trust) was developed, consumer protection was the foremost consideration. This trust requires at least 80 percent of preneed funds be deposited. Some funeral homes participate in so-called "trust funds" from which they can actually draw funds at will. We deposit 100 percent of preneed funds into the Mississippi Funeral Directors Trust, and these funds do not become available to us until the time of death to pay funeral expenses.

Is burial insurance the same as prepayment?
No. Burial insurance is a set amount and will not change over the years. For example, if you take out a burial insurance policy today for $3,000, in twenty years it will still be worth $3,000. If you make a $3,000 prearrangement and in twenty years the same funeral is priced at $5,000, your family will not have to pay the difference.

How can I evaluate the quality of a funeral home staff? 
Professional licensing attests to the qualification of the staff. As in other professions, licensing provides validation of appropriate education, training, and testing. Two types of funeral service licenses are available, the Funeral Service License (for embalming and funeral directing) and the Funeral Directors License (for funeral directing only). Bob Rosson, Bobby Phelps, and Rocky Kennedy are licensed in Funeral Service. Brett Rosson is currently enrolled in Mortuary School at Northwest Mississippi Community College to qualify for this license. Beth Rosson, Don Waller, and Patsy Waller are licensed Funeral Directors. Bobby Phelps, Trish Cousley, and Rocky Kennedy have Mississippi Insurance Licenses.

Experience in the field of funeral service has improved both our personal and technical skills in operating the business. Patsy and Don Waller have been in the funeral business for 27 years; Bobby Phelps, 27 years; Bob Rosson, 21 years; Beth Rosson, 21 years; Rocky Kennedy, 13 years; Trish Cousley, 10 years.

Is continuing education a requirement in funeral service? 
Continuing education is not required by law in Mississippi, but we feel that continuing education is necessary to stay abreast of developments in funeral service (which is very closely regulated) so we can provide the best service to our families. Bob Rosson is a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner, CFSP, which required 180 hours of professional education and activities and which requires 20 hours of continuing education each year to maintain certification. Bob is also a Certified Preneed Consultant, CPC, which requires additional education in this area Bob has served as an officer and on committees in state and national professional funeral service organizations. Staff members frequently attend professional meetings to learn new and better ways to help our families.

Does Waller Funeral Home sell monuments?
Yes, we represent Columbus Marble Works and Matthews Bronze, two well respected companies in this business. Their monuments are of high quality—long-lasting and beautiful. We have some choices on display at the funeral home.

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS? Please feel free to ask: come to the funeral home, call (234-7971), write (P.0. Box 1200, Oxford, MS 38655), or e-mail (staff@wallerfuneralhome.com). We welcome the opportunity to talk with you.

We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from February 25, 2004, through May 23, 2004.

Mrs. Evelyn Wooten Ryan / February 25, 2004
Mrs. Imogene Kenton Yancy / February 25, 2004
Mr. Riley B. "JuJu" Ragland, Jr / February 29, 2004
Mrs. Anne Linder Solnit / March 2, 2004
Mr. A. J. Maples / March 3, 2004
Mr. Martin D. "Marty" Mitchell / March 4, 2004
Mr. Kirl Avent Parks / March 5, 2004
Mrs. Marjorie Henderson Davis / March 12, 2004
Mr. Shellie Lee Tutor / March 12, 2004
Mrs. Hazel Evans Anderson / March 17, 2004
Mrs. Dorothy Allen Reaves / March 18, 2004
Mrs. Marie Hall Gibson/ March 20, 2004
Mr. Charlie Lavester Edwards / March 22, 2004
Mrs. Lenora Langston Moore / March 26, 2004
Mr. Jimmie Lee Stone / March 28, 2004
Mrs. Helen Hoffman Roy / April 2, 2004
Mrs. Gladys Drewrey House / April 2, 2004
Mr. John Stanford Guyer, Jr / April 8, 2004
Mr. C. W. "Bill" Puckett / April 14, 2004
Mr. Thomas R. Mason / April 16, 2004
Mr. Charles A. "Chuck" Childress / April 20, 2004
Dr. Stuart James Bullion / April 21, 2004
Mrs. Martha Wade Doty / April 22, 2004
Mr. Murry C. "Chooky" FaWner, Sr / April 23, 2004
Mrs. Gladys Johnson Ramsey / April 29, 2004
Mrs. Edna Saunders Avent / April 29, 2004
Mr. Samuel Leroy "Sam" Holland / April 30, 2004
Miss Helen Louise Franklin / May 1, 2004
Mrs. Katie S. Woolverton / May 7, 2004
Mr. Charles Herman Maples / May 8, 2004
Mr. Leroy "Red" Bishop / May 10, 2004
Mrs. Pauline Ratliff Bishop / May 11, 2004
Mr. Ervin Richard House / May 13, 2004
Mrs. Gertha Hodge May / May 13, 2004
Miss Amanda H. Abel / May 18, 2004
Mr. R. Frank Harwood / May 23, 2004

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