STANFORD — A pair of Lincoln County funeral homes are back in the family after 14 years under the ownership of Texas-based Carriage Services.
John David and Mary Friend finalized their purchase of Fox Funeral Home in Stanford and Barnett-Demrow Funeral Home in Waynesburg Tuesday at 11 a.m.
"It's a true honor to be able to serve the people of Lincoln County," John David Friend said. "We feel that this is a ministry for us. This is the best way that we know to give back to our community."
John David Friend is a certified funeral home director who has worked at Ramsey Funeral Home in Lancaster since 2004.
Mary Friend is the daughter of the late Clark and Bobbie Sue Demrow Benton and the niece of Bill Demrow, one of the former owners of Fox and Barnett-Demrow.
Demrow said he, Dan Barnett and Scottie Ernst sold Fox and Barnett-Demrow to Carriage Services in August of 1998. At the time, selling to a national corporation was "the popular thing to do."
"Corporations were buying funeral homes all over the nation and no one could foresee a problem with it," Demrow said. "14 years later, Carriage Services made a decision to sell these locations and … now they're back locally owned and operated again."
John David Friend said as the new owners, he and his wife intend to bring back "traditional values."
"We can take care of families on a more personal level," he said. "We want all the families we take care of to feel like they're a member of our family."
The Friends will be moving in with their two daughters — and a third baby on the way — at Fox Funeral Home in downtown Stanford.
"We feel like that's important to show commitment to the community," John David Friend said. "And it's a great neighborhood living on Main Street for our girls to grow up in."
The 10 full- and part-time employees who currently staff the two funeral homes, including Demrow, will remain on the job and all existing pre-arrangements will be honored, Demrow said.
"The transition will happen flawlessly because all the employees that are there are going to stay there," he said. "The only entity leaving is the management."
While Mary Friend said she currently has no experience running a funeral home, she plans to begin the several-year process of becoming a certified funeral home director right away.
"We welcome anyone to come and visit," she said.