The Ottumwa Courier


May 21, 2014

Confusion laid to rest

OTTUMWA — Despite what you may have heard, one of the town's funeral homes is still in business and performing most of its duties.

This week, more than one family placing an obituary told the Courier that Shrine of Memories had gone out of business. That is definitely not the case, said Mike Armstrong, manager of Memorial Park Services.

However, added Armstrong, they are facing what they hope is a short-term challenge.

"It's very simple," explained Armstrong, "Our licensed funeral director has taken a full-time position somewhere else; we were sorry to lose him, and we're currently looking for a new one."

The main obstacle for the business: They can't pick up deceased individuals without a licensed funeral director. But the other services they provide, Armstrong said, are available. The doors were open and the office was staffed on Wednesday.

The public's confusion may have been increased due to an answering machine message telling callers that those who had certain arrangements with Shrine of Memories could get those services provided by other local funeral parlors, and that Shrine of Memories no longer provides mortuary services. That, agreed Armstrong, sounds much more permanent than it was meant to sound.

"We're going to have to change that," he said, adding that he would call the Ottumwa representative who will update the message.

People with questions about how the business can help them are welcome to call the Shrine of Memories in Ottumwa, Armstrong said.

"This [departure] came with some bad timing. In our industry, the week before Memorial Day weekend is the time to make sure all of our properties are spruced up, that every cemetery looks perfect."

While Armstrong can't put an exact timeline on bringing in a new funeral director, he said he's hopeful the situation is "very temporary."

— To follow Mark Newman on Twitter, check out @CourierMark

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