Martin adds to services 100 years into business

Published 1:28 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

One hundred and two-year-old Martin Funeral Home continued expanding its services by opening an on-site, full-service crematory in August. Since opening, the funeral home has performed 21 cremations in its continued service to Chilton County and its surrounding areas.

Martin put the crematory inside a preexisting building on its property and was approved to begin services on Aug. 23.

Donald Myrick, an 18-year employee at Martin, is a licensed funeral director and embalmer, and is now the managing cremationist for the funeral home. Martin’s crematory offers a variety of different cremation services to families such as having a traditional funeral and then cremation, direct cremation, cremation memorials and also burying the cremations. The options of keeping the ashes to spread somewhere or keeping them with the family are also available.

Myrick, or one of the five licensed cremationists on staff at Martin, go through a rigorous 15-step process to prepare a body for the cremation process. Throughout the process, there are two checks to make sure the body is the correct person, and a sheet goes with the body throughout the process. The number on the body tag must correlate with the paper throughout it to guarantee accuracy.

“Each body is tagged, and if the family wants to view them before cremation they are more than welcome to,” Myrick said. “Once we do that, the body is brought out to our crematory where it is tagged, and after everything is approved there is a 24-hour hold, and then the cremation process begins. The entire cremation process from start to finish is about six hours.”

After the process is complete, the ashes are placed in an urn of the family’s choice.

Martin has offered traditional funeral services since 1921 as well as cremation, but at an off-site crematory in Birmingham. Myrick said in the last few years he has seen an uptick in families choosing the cremation route with their loved ones, and he expects it to continue to increase.

“It was important to keep everything here on site, and for the last 30 plus years we have used a crematory in Birmingham,” Myrick said. “Recently, our crematory rates have risen to a point where we could put one in (on-site), and it makes it a lot better for us to be able to do it in-house. Your loved one does not have to go anywhere else, and when they get to Martin Funeral Home, we do everything here.”

In the future, Martin wants to have a cremation memorial garden placed at Martin Memorial Cemetery where people can lay their loved ones to rest if they do not have a place to do so.

Over the course of his 18-year career at Martin, Myrick has been involved in virtually every aspect of the services they have provided. When the opportunity came to manage the crematory, he jumped at it.

He said the biggest thing he has learned since being involved with funeral services since he was 16 years old is one needs to have the empathy and compassion to be an effective funeral director, or anyone involved with funeral services.

“I think it is a calling, but I also enjoy helping and serving families,” Myrick said. “With the cremation, what I like is that I can make sure it is done correctly, and that we do it by the letter of the (Alabama) State Board of Funeral Service.”

Call 205-755-3550 for more information about the cremation services at Martin Funeral Home.