WILMINGTON — The historic Main Street corner home — the Murphy house — is noted for the brick serpentine wall bordering the back yard.
The place will be soon be opened as a funeral home and will remain in the family, as one of the business partners is a great-nephew of the late Fred Murphy. Fred resided in the house with his wife, Maxine Harlan Murphy, who was born there.
While the traditional funeral will be offered, they are “going to single out cremation” as an option, said Billy Arehart, the partner related to Fred Murphy.
The licensed funeral director will be Kevin Brown, a friend of Areharts since their elementary grades at East Clinton.
“It’s a business opportunity, but it’s also a mission for both of us,” Arehart said.
That mission, they said, includes affordability, treating everyone with the same amount of respect, and being creative-minded so as not to focus on the “dark and dismal” but instead hold a celebration of life.
They want to educate people on the cremation process. There are several reasons to have a cremation, including in general it is less costly, they said.
That’s because there is no casket, no vault, and it may not involve a full grave space, said Brown.
“Times are changing,” Brown said. He added that, historically, cremation made up about 4 percent of the funeral business and right now in Ohio, cremation is reported to have risen to about 46 percent.
In some southern and western states, the rates are pushing 80 percent, he said.
The Catholic Church in the past decade or so recognized cremation as a form of final disposition, said Brown, something he thinks “opened a lot of people’s eyes” to the process.
There are options in addition to scattering the ashes or placing them in an “old, great big urn sitting on a mantle,” he said. As one example, there is jewelry in which cremated remains can be kept and people can wear.
The two men gave several examples of the creativity they hope to incorporate in memorial services.
“You might have a gentleman who is a motorcycle enthusiast. Well, we’re going to run his Harley right in here beside his urn,” Arehart said. “Or, their pets may be very dear to them. Their pets will be here.”
Brown said, “We want to make this a viable, huge success for Wilmington and surrounding communities.”
They’re aiming for a late winter or February opening.
“We really want to incorporate and keep the historic Murphy house. We really want that to be a shining star in what we’re doing because it is, it’s a landmark,” said Brown.
The building is a little more than a century old. Both of the Murphys were cremated, Arehart said, and Fred Murphy died just short of turning 100.
“We’re going to have portraits of Fred and Maxine Murphy in here, to kind of watch over the place,” said Arehart.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.