Oxford funeral home celebrates 40 years in business, three generations of women at the helm

Published 9:30 am Friday, December 22, 2017

Waller Funeral Home is celebrating 40 years of serving Oxford and the surrounding area.
Patsy Waller and her husband Don founded Waller Funeral Home in 1977, and since then, the family owned and operated business has grown to include their daughter, Beth Rosson and her husband, Bob, in 1983, and their granddaughter Sally Kate Walker in 2006.
“One of the interesting aspects is that most often in funeral homes that are family businesses and multi-generational, it’s generations of men,” Walker said. “But here, my grandmother was the main pioneer of this business, and so we have three generations of women, in addition to my dad.”
Although Patsy Waller passed away in 2009, both Rosson and Walker say they have kept the matriarch’s pioneering spirit close to heart.
“For a long time, she was one of the only female funeral directors in North Mississippi,” Rosson said.
“She was the first lady to serve on the board of the Mississippi Funeral Directors Association. A good many years later, I was the second female member of the board and then the first female president.”
At the same time, Bob Rosson was serving as 2012-2013 president of the National Funeral Directors Association.
Rosson says constantly evolving with the changing times and, more importantly, compassionately meeting the needs of the families they serve, is a key to their success.
“When mama first started in this venture, her motto was, ‘Remember: it’s not just another funeral,’” Rosson said. “We perform 150 funeral services in a year and each one is singular to that family, and that’s something all four of us, and our staff, keep in mind.”
Bob Rosson elaborated on that point by referencing one of the funeral home’s slogans, “Our family is serving yours.”
“Families don’t call us to be in the room and grieve with them,” he said. “They call us and tell us what they want, so they can have that time to grieve and not worry about the details.”
Today, a new generation of the Waller family is leading the business.
Walker, along with her grandfather, oversaw the construction of the newest addition, West Hall, which serves as a space for visitations and some nontraditional services.
“I think it’s important to note that, because we have three generations under the same roof, we have different perspectives and that allows us to provide the best options for our customers,” Beth Rosson said.
Don Waller says one big change over 40 years in the industry, and one that he welcomes, is the idea of a celebration of life.
“Back when we first opened, and years before, you never heard the expression, ‘celebration of life.’ It just wasn’t invented at that point and time.” Waller said. “Now, people have come to realize that [a funeral] is a celebration of life. It’s not the gloom and doom that it used to be at funerals, and we’ve adapted to that.”
(Originally published by The Oxford Eagle)

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