Selma Funeral Home changes hands

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Selma Funeral Home on Highway 22 East in Valley Grande has new owners. The existing management — with the addition of four new owners, all local — completed purchase of the business on Dec. 18.

Curt Franklin, general manager, disclosed the ownership Tuesday in an interview with The Times-Journal.

The former owner was Mike Sanderson, of Specialized Commercial Lending based in Covington, La.

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Franklin and his wife, Sherry, moved to Valley Grande in 2002, to take over the construction of the facility, which had been begun by another party. The Franklins finished the construction and opened the new facility, which is located just south of Pineview Cemetery on the west side of Highway 22.

The Franklins came with the option to buy and now have exercised that option. Joining them are two other couples: the Rev. George Jones and his wife, Faye, and their son, Carl Jones, and his wife, Deborah.

George Jones is retiring from his pastorate at Mountainview Baptist Church in Huntsville, and he and his wife will be in Valley Grande July 1. They are former residents of Selma. He served as pastor of then-Central Baptist Church in downtown Selma, which moved to Valley Grande several years ago and became Valley Grande Baptist Church.

Carl Jones, who previously worked in the funeral home business in Bessemer and locally, is completing his funeral science degree at Jefferson State, according to Franklin. He will move from his work as a lineman at Pioneer Electric, where he has been employed for nine years to the staff of the funeral home. His wife, Deborah, is employed by Bush Hog and plans to retain her job, although she will assist as needed in the business as will Faye, the wife of George Jones.

Curt Franklin said he is excited with the transition to local ownership. While having great respect for the previous owner, the former Baptist pastor said he believes it will be in the best interest of those being served for the business to be locally owned and in the hands of people whom many in the area already know.

Franklin emphasized that no changes in operation are anticipated. The funeral home will continue to be guided by the pastoral vision which Franklin believes makes his operation unique in the area. He presents Selma Funeral Home as a “home,” not a “mortuary,” and certain amenities reflecting that vision are offered, such as catered meals for families immediately before visitation at no charge.

He added that the three couples who now own the funeral home share the same vision and regard their work as a ministry. “The three couples make a great team,” he said.

“We are here to stay.”

A state-mandated driveway off Highway 22 was recently completed, finally enabling visitors to come directly to the parking lot in front of the facility rather than having to take a narrow, winding path through Pineview Cemetery.

Ironically, the $50,000 project will be covered over by the widened Highway 22 in the next several years. But Franklin said he believes the work was well worth the cost, for the sake of those served by Selma Funeral Home.