Funeral Industry News

Funeral Director Operated a Decade with No License

August 27, 2009

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Funeral Director Operated a Decade with No License

image As the family of the late Ada Young searches for answers, public records show that Willie B. Hardy, the funeral home administrator who left Young’s body in a shed when his business changed locations this month, has a criminal history including felony theft. Officials from the Texas Funeral Service Commission said Hardy has not had a state funeral director’s license since 1998. His expired license’s status was listed as ?revoked,? but a commission official could not say why it was revoked.

Neighboring residents discovered Young’s body in a casket June 19 and notified police. Hardy said Young’s family had not paid him for a funeral or to dispose of the body, so he had kept it since 2006.

Records show multiple charges against Hardy dating to the early 1980s with three convictions ? including one for felony theft in 1998. A conviction from the 1980s was for a misdemeanor hot check charge, and in 1999 he was convicted on a misdemeanor count of driving with a suspended license.

Hardy on Friday declined to comment on his criminal history.

He said he had worked with several licensed funeral directors and that in the decade that he was unlicensed, he never claimed to have one. However, a funeral service commission official said license holders cannot have others perform funeral services in their name.

Young’s family, as well as another family that used Hardy’s services, said in interviews this week that they were under the impression Hardy was licensed.

?Where was the Texas Funeral … Commission?? said Rhonda Pickeree, Young’s granddaughter. ?Who inspects these places and licenses them? … Why did we have to wait till he got to my grandmother to know this??

San Antonio police and the Bexar County medical examiner’s office are investigating Young’s case. The office is obtaining a DNA test to verify the body’s identity and is conducting an autopsy, which is to take until about July 7.

If the DNA test confirms the body is Young’s, it will be returned to her family. If not, authorities will seek to find the body’s next of kin.

Pickeree and other members of Young’s family have begun to make funeral and burial arrangements but plan to wait for the test results to set a date.

Regardless of the test results, the Collins Funeral Home will provide a free chapel service for the abandoned body, and the Camero Crematory & Funeral Home will cremate the body, also for free.

Pickeree said she and her family are struggling to make it through the situation.

?I want to put my grandmother to rest, finally,? she said. ?That’s all I know. I just want to have her cremated, which were her wishes.?

Pickeree said her family has believed since Young’s 2006 death that she had been cremated, placed in an urn and buried by Hardy in a burial plot.

?We paid him,? Pickeree said, countering Hardy’s claim that she and her family would not or could not pay for Young’s cremation. ?You have to pay to come into the world, and you have to pay to go out of the world.?

Pickeree said she and her family paid Hardy for the funeral service, the cremation, the urn and the burial plot.

?I visited him on Rigsby Street twice and I asked him, ?We need the lot number for my grandmother,’ and he always said, ?I’ll take care of it,’? Pickeree said.

Hardy, on the other hand, said the family did not pay for the cremation, the urn or the burial plot, and never filled out the paperwork for a cremation.

He said it was the family that was uncommunicative, not him.

?I’m not trying to ridicule the family,? he said. ?I wish this had never happened to them. But I tried my best to communicate with them.

?I don’t know why they didn’t sign the paperwork. They never followed through on anything, and I made that as clear to them as I could.?

Police are waiting for the medical examiner’s findings.

?We’re in wait-and-see mode right now,? SAPD homicide Detective Jesse Salame said.