Barren County Progress
The Barren County Progress reported a few weeks ago a brief story on a funeral home director, Nathan Morris, who participated in a forgery leading to violations with the state board.
BCP has unsuccessfully attempted to obtain many 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 our request for documents. Those efforts are still underway.
The BCP has since learned that while the story of Morris is relevant, perhaps the much larger story for the Glasgow-Barren community is the upcoming changes for A. F. Crow & Son Funeral Home and a return to its foundational roots that former owner Follis Crow and his father established.
Most recently, A. F. Crow & Son 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%. A. F. Crow operated under Nathan Morris inside the business.
Horan, who resides in Denver, Colorado, now owns 100% of the corporate company and he has given 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.
Horan told the BCP, “I have taken Morris’ place with the intention of turning over the day-to-day operations to Kenny Shepperd with the support of Follis Crow and the excellent team we have in Glasgow.”
The new owner has been a funeral director for over 40 years.
“I feel like I understand the challenges and the importance of serving communities with the utmost compassion and professionalism,” Horan said.
Shepperd is the Manager of A. F. Crow & Son.
Morris’ violations were administrative in nature and Shepperd wants the community to know that A. F. Crow never had any violations regardless of Morris’ actions.
“There was never a service conducted at any of our locations without licensed people,” Shepperd said. “None of the violations involved any care of any decedent nor were they anything financial whatsoever.”
“We are moving forward with the caring and dedication to carrying on the traditions that were set forth by A. F. Crow & Son for years and years,” Shepperd added. “We’re just ready to serve families with the wonderful team we have here and without any distractions.”
Given the nature of the history of A. F. Crow & Son, Horan said he feels, and perhaps as the community may feel, “We have the support of Follis Crow.”
“The local funeral home is not just some piece of property they sell and forget about,” Horan explained, “Their name is on the sign, 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.
While there were some decisions made under Morris that Horan wouldn’t have made, he said the decisions coming in the future are going to be focused on what’s the right thing for the local communities and families they serve in all of their locations.
Violations were found in routine inspections earlier this year. Tommie Whobrey, now manager of Leitchfield Memorial Funeral Chapel, notarized a form that was laying 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.
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 the matter; however, A. F. Crow was not included in any of those.
Nathan Morris is no longer employed nor connected to the new ownership of A. F. Crow & Son.
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.
As for the future of A. F. Crow & Son, families can look forward to the excellent care from staff without the heavy burdens of the past.
“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. Follis Crow,” Horan said.
Horan also said he knows the staff at A. F. Crow & Son want to be the very best in serving families after the loss of loved ones.
“I know I can help them get there but all the help in the world means nothing if their hearts aren’t in it, but I’m grateful this is what they want,” Horan said of Shepperd and staff.