Many aspects of the funeral home business have changed dramatically during the century that has passed since Bob Greene’s grandfather and uncle opened Carman Brothers Funeral Home in Russell.
The business, which has been known as Carman Funeral Home since James Stewart Carman bought his brother’s operation a few years after opening to serve families in the wake of the 1913 flood, will be welcoming friends and family for an informal gathering from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today to celebrate the century mark.
“It’s just kind of a get-together. I mean, we’re not going to be in suits and ties,” said funeral director and managing partner Mark Ratliff, who noted today’s staff members remain dedicated to the principles established by the founding family.
“We’re trying to carry on that tradition of serving families,” he said, explaining they strive to serve families as they would have their own families served.
Funeral director Robert Greene said his grandmother, Mary Blanche Lyons-Carman, also worked at the funeral home for many years.
“She ‘secretaried’ and did about anything that needed to be done until the children were born,” Greene said, explaining his mother, Alice Carman-Greene, later assumed the secretary’s tasks. The funeral home remained a family-owned operation until 1993, when Greene sold to the Lowen Group. The business is now “partnered” with Texas-based Carriage Services, Ratliff said, with all operations under local guidance and supervision and a much-appreciated employee ownership program.
Greene said the family aspect of the business is crucial to everyone at Carman’s Funeral Home.
“Mostly you have family ties. You are blessed to know a majority of the people you take care of. It’s a little bit more than just being a provider,” Greene said while discussing his family’s longstanding commitment to the business.
Greene said the funeral business has changed since he began working at Carman Funeral Home.
“When I started in the 60s, we still took a majority of people to their home for the visitation. That is done very seldom now,” he said, adding the funeral home staff also had to dig a few graves themselves before they found reliable people for that part of the job.
Carman Funeral Home has six employees in Flatwoods and five more in South Shore, Ratliff said, offering nearly a century of combined experience. During today’s open house event, Ratliff said food and refreshments will be offered, along with inflatable attractions for children and a video depicting more details about the history of the business and those who worked there.
Staff members will also be on hand to answer questions and provide information about services including pre-planning, according to both Ratliff and Greene. For more information, call (606) 836-5833.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at