SCI Selling Funeral Homes?

December 24, 2009
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imageThe Texas-headquartered corporation that bought Vicksburg?s Frank J. Fisher Funeral Home in 2007 has sold it to a Mississippi-based company whose manager controls several other funeral homes around the state.

Fisher was one of three Mississippi funeral homes that changed hands in the sale to the new owner, South Mississippi Funeral Services, LLC, from Service Corp. International, the country?s largest funeral home company, SCI spokesman Jennie Roberts said.

The others were Catchings Funeral Home in McComb and Jones Funeral Home in Ellisville.

Roberts described the sale as ?part of (SCI?s) ongoing strategy to tweak our footprint to make sure we have the right balance of properties.?

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Fisher was one of 600 funeral homes acquired by SCI in a 2007 transaction with Alderwoods Group, the descendant of a Canadian corporation that bought Fisher from local funeral director Charles Riles in 1995, but later filed for bankruptcy.

Roberts declined to disclose the price paid for Fisher in the sale to South Mississippi Funeral Services. ?We will defer all other questions on the business to the new owner,? she said.

John Pearce, listed as manager of South Mississippi Funeral Services on documents filed with the Mississippi secretary of state?s office, did not return phone calls, so information on any changes he plans was not available today.

Pearce is also listed as an officer of companies that appear to own or manage funeral homes in Bay Springs, Brookhaven, Forest and Raleigh.

The business is the oldest of Vicksburg?s funeral homes, only a few decades younger than the city itself. Copies of some of its earliest records ? including one noting the Union Army?s arrival in town ? are stored at the Old Court House Museum-Eva W. Davis Memorial.

The funeral home stood across Grove Street from the Old Court House until 1944, when it moved to its present site at 1830 Cherry St.

The business? namesake was hired by its original owner, John Q. Arnold, to do odd jobs around the funeral home. Frank Fisher eventually took over and bequeathed the business to his sons.

It was purchased in 1977 by another former employee, Charles Riles, who operated it under the names Fisher and Fisher-Riles. The funeral home has not been under local ownership since Riles sold it to the Canadian corporation in 1995.

Riles and his wife now own Riles Funeral Home on Indiana Avenue. The other funeral homes that serve the city ? Glenwood, Jefferson, Robbins, Lakeview, Williams and Dillon-Chisley ? are also family owned.

Source: Vicksburg Post, Ben Bryant at bbryant@vicksburgpost.com

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