For those who tuned in to the Feb. 1 television program 60 Minutes, it should have been a learning experience for all concerning the segment on out-of-town corporations and/or conglomerates purchasing independently-owned funeral homes all over the country. It was determined by commentator Leslie Stahl that the general public is "in the dark" as to who really owns these companies.
This story hits close to home because it has already happened right here in Augusta. For example, in the Augusta and Martinez areas, Service Corporation International headquartered in Texas owns Elliot Sons Funeral Homes -- although there is no mention on signs and/or advertisements. The same goes for the Poteet Funeral Homes, Thomas L. King Funeral Home, and Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery that are all owned by a single owner -- the Lowen Group headquartered in Canada. Yet, there is also no mention in signs or ads of their ownership in these companies.
As was noted on the show, we should all be aware of these changes in the funeral industry so that when the need arises we will know what is really going on.
The disturbing news uncovered in this story was that in many cities across the country these conglomerates are buying up all the funeral homes, thereby eliminating the competition. Without competition you can imagine what will happen with the prices in those areas that are unfortunate enough to have this happen!
Gardelle Lewis, Jr., Augusta