In those moments when families must come together to make final arrangements in the loss of a loved one, a caring funeral director and staff is of utmost importance.
Brantley-Phillips Funeral Home and funeral director Danny Phillips have shown the experience and care to help those families get through those trying and stressful moments while plans are made to celebrate and honor a departed loved one.
For Phillips, becoming a funeral director started with a career move from being with an insurance company. He started working at the home thanks to his father getting him a job there.
“My father traveled the state of Mississippi selling burial insurance supplements,” Phillips explained. “Bridgforth and Martha Francis Tarver managed this funeral home for a conglomerate of family people. I was in Memphis at the time and not happy where I was working at for Metropolitan Life and my dad got me a job here.”
Phillips admits that at first being a part of a funeral home was not his most desirable decision to make. But he warmed up to the idea as he became more involved with the home.
It was in 1981 the Tarver family decided to sell the funeral home and Phillips and his father tried to find financing to purchase it. After two failed attempts, Tarver decided he was going to help Phillips make that purchase.
“Mr. Tarver just made the comment, ‘I want Danny to have it. I know Danny will take care of it. Danny’s been a good employee of mine. I’ll finance it for you so y’all just go up there and start running it,’” Phillips said.
Over the years, Brantley-Phillips has grown but remains an important part of the Courthouse square part of Hernando. Phillips said he has been urged to build a larger facility elsewhere but is determined the home remain in the central part of the DeSoto County seat.
“In the early 80s, I felt like the funeral home was important to the square,” Phillips said. “It was important because it brought a lot of people to town from throughout the county that would eat lunch or park around the square. We were an important part of the community.”
It is also a priority that the home remain a family-owned and operated business. A sign saying as much greets visitors at the door on the Highway 51 side of the funeral home.
“I always felt like that it was important that this is a family-owned funeral home from the standpoint that we lived here with the people and there was a need for a family-owned business,” Phillips pointed out. “Hernando has become home and the more you serve the community, the more important it becomes to you. The people of this area are unbelievably kind and I’ve met some people that have become friends of mine and will be for the rest of my life. “
It is likely Phillips’ two sons will carry on the family business. Both Tommy and Taylor have other careers but Phillips said both have an interest in returning and continuing the business when Danny decides to finally step away.
Phillips said the biggest change in the funeral business during his time has been in the growing number of cremations versus traditional burials that are being done across the country.
“When I came here, cremation was more or less a ‘dirty word,’ nobody talked about it,” said Phillips. “Now I think cremation is running neck and neck with burials now in the United States. I feel like the time will come where there are more cremations than burials.”
Whatever the final disposition of remains, Phillips wants to make sure he can guide the family through the details and ensure the final goodbyes are done with respect, love and caring to those people hurting from loss.
“I feel like it is my job when I get a family here to do my very best to pull families away from the moment that they’re in,” said Phillips. “It is my job to put them in a situation that they feel like it is now their time to do something for their loved on who has probably done so much for them. Now it is their turn to do something for them. We want to make it a situation more of honor than a situation of sadness.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.