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Butler Funeral Home

New owner vows to local compassion

John Horan, new owner of Butler Funeral Home shared his vision for the future of the local funeral homes he now owns. Photo submitted

Allyson Dix

Jobe Publishing, Inc.


A few weeks ago, the Edmonton Herald News reported briefly a story about a funeral home director, Nathan Morris, who participated in a forgery that led to violations with the state board.

Jobe Publishing, Inc. (JPI) has unsuccessfully attempted to obtain documents through the Open Records Act since July 31 with the Kentucky Board of Embalmers and Funeral Home Directors (KBEFD) who have continuously delayed and then ultimately denied the first request for documents. Those efforts are still underway.

Most recently, Butler Funeral Home was owned and operated under Morris Family Services out of Owensboro, where the original news report of Nathan Morris’ forgery stemmed.

Nathan and his wife, Megan, owned 50% of the company while a man by the name of John Horan owned the other 50%. Butler operated under Nathan inside the business.

Horan, who resides in Denver, Colorado, now owns 100% of the corporate company and he has delegated to the local funeral homes that operated under Nathan Morris the reigns to bring back the close community ties that were perhaps somewhat lost under former owner Nathan Morris.

As of last week, the new name for Morris Family Services is the Funeral Excellence Group.

The new owner has been a funeral director for over 40 years. His vision for the future of Butler and all the funeral homes that operated under the former owner will include moving past the heavy burdens that have perhaps weighed on them prior to Horan’s ownership.

“I feel like I understand the challenges and the importance of serving communities with the utmost compassion and professionalism,” Horan said.

Horan also said the staff has the support of Don Butler, whose father established Butler Funeral Home decades ago.

Dennis McWhorter, Manager of Butler Funeral Home, said his goal is to be present and available for the local community, and he is looking forward to getting back to what Butler once was.

“We’re trying to get back to our roots and what Donnie Butler and those guys built when they had it,” McWhorter said.

Horan has given those reigns back to the local people who run the funeral homes, an aspect that perhaps Nathan Morris chipped away at during his time as owner.

“The local funeral home is not just some piece of property they sell and forget about,” Horan explained, “Their name is on the sign, and it means something to them.”

“It means a lot to them actually.”

“The most valuable thing in this field we own is not our building or equipment or that sort of thing; it’s our reputation and we have to get that right, and we are,” Horan promised.

Violations were found in routine inspections earlier this year. Tommie Whobrey, now manager of Leitchfield Memorial Funeral Chapel, notarized a form that was lying on a desk and Whobrey told the board he didn’t know who completed it. However, Nathan Morris, Whobrey’s boss at the time, told him to send the paperwork to the state board office, according to documents.

Whobrey denied any act of forgery in the May 31 inspection date and faced less severe penalties than Morris.

In an Agreed Order dated June 6, the KBEFD board presented their findings to Morris and he subsequently signed the settlement agreement. No details in the meeting minutes elaborate on the discussions between Morris and the state board over the matter.

Former owner of Butlers Funeral Home Nathan Morris signed an agreement with the Kentucky Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors that he participated in forgery. Photo | YouTube

Morris “admits and acknowledges that he participated in the forgery of a signature on the forms to the Board, that he had operated multiple funeral homes in violations of KRS and the Administrative regulations, and conducting 32 funerals in violation of the law,” the order reads.

As a result, his funeral director’s license has been suspended beginning on August 9, 2023, and will be reinstated on Feb. 9, 2024. He was also fined $24,000 and a ban from any funeral home property in the state of Kentucky unless attending as a mourner.

Thirty-two funerals were operated illegally under Morris due to administrative matters and 22 of those were at Butler Funeral Home between the dates of Jan. 1 and April 17, 2023, per online obituaries, according to an inspection report.

Additionally, somewhere between April 14 and May 3, a state inspector found Butler’s had no embalmer’s license available for managerial purposes, the facility required a change to a ceremonial facility asap, and all embalming equipment must be removed from the prep room as it was noted to be cluttered and dirty.

The inspection report goes on to say that apprentice Amy Wilson’s time was not signed off on by a supervisor and she was not filling out a calendar, but instead “jotting time down in a notebook.”

In the May board meeting minutes, the board voted unanimously to fine the former manager of Butler’s, Larry Wilson, with a $250 fine for the aforementioned calendar violation for Amy Wilson and $750 for misleading the board in a Feb. 2023 board meeting.

Upon review of the board meeting minutes from Feb., JPI is unable to verify what the alleged “misleading” clause stems from exactly.

The state board attorney, John Blevins, has yet to fulfill the Open Records Act for this information. No custodian of records has been given from Blevins upon the request of Jobe Publishing nor, as of press time, is one visible on the state board’s website, which is a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

A lot of moving components were occurring this year and staff changes for Butler, especially after Judge/Executive Larry Wilson resigned in mid-March due to his election.

Wilson told JPI that he felt the board was justified in their decision and that he has respect for the new owner.

It is the understanding of JPI that staffing issues were occurring and many of the funeral homes were working together to meet the needs of the company and the grieving families during those times under Morris’ leadership.

Nathan Morris is no longer employed nor connected to the new ownership of A. F. Crow & Son or Butler Funeral Home.

The BCP attempted to reach Nathan Morris for comment on two separate dates over the last two weeks, once on social media which he frequents and a voicemail was left by phone. As of press time, he has not responded.

“I’m here for the community,” McWhorter added, “not for the company or anyone else; I’m here for the people of Edmonton.”

Horan added, “I feel completely confident in our teams that we have in Edmonton and other locations. Most importantly, we’re going to be focused on the local communities and what we need to be doing to be the best choice for families in their times of need.”

As for the community and the future of Butler Funeral Home, families can expect excellent care from the compassionate staff as they begin transitioning away from the Morris connection.

Compassion and professionalism are critical components in serving families after losing a loved one, and Horan does not doubt that the Edmonton team has the heart for that.

“I’m grateful this is what they want,” Horan said, “It’s going to be good for the community and ultimately continue to enable us to be a vital source in the communities we serve with the level of distinction they were accustomed to with Mr. Butler.”


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