The Herald Bulletin

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Local News

November 30, 2013

All in the family

Family ties prove to be good for the funeral business

ANDERSON — Katherine May says she had little choice when it came to the establishment of her family's business.

"His mind was made up," she said with a laugh of her husband's decision to become a funeral director. "There was no discussion."

Sitting at a table inside of L.C. May Funeral Services Inc., 2024 S. Madison Ave., Katherine May said she had no idea how that decision would later trickle throughout her family.

The National Funeral Directors Association estimates that approximately 86 percent of the funeral homes across the nation are privately owned by families, individuals, or closely held companies. Only 14 percent are publicly traded corporations.

Funeral homes have traditionally been a family-owned and -operated business, but recently that number has started to shrink.

In 2012, the National Directory of Morticians Redbook says there were 19,680 funeral homes in the United States. That number is down more than 9 percent from the 21,757 funeral homes operating in 2002.

May admits that at first she was unsure of her husband's decision to go to mortuary school. Today, the mother of five and grandmother of three says the funeral business has been good to her family.

According to a report by analysts at IBISWorld, the funeral industry generates more than $16 billion in revenue and has experienced a 2 percent growth in revenue from 2008 to 2013. An increase in expensive cremations and a downturn in the economy, however, has had a negative impact on the industry.

For the May family, the funeral business has become a way of life and now financially supports three of Katherine May's four sons.

Both Stanley May and his brother Ron May say they never planned to follow in their father's career path. The men say they both went to college for different careers, but now they work at the funeral home with a younger brother.

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