Family sells Graham-Dunn Funeral Home to area group

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By Dave Taylor

The family of the late James B. Dunn, longtime coronor and funeral director in Carroll County, has sold the Graham-Dunn Funeral Home, located at 213 Fifth Street in Carrollton.

New owners of the funeral home are Mark Garnett, Mike McDonald and Bryan New, all of Owenton. They are directors of the McDonald and New Funeral Homes in Owenton, and the Garnett, New and McDonald Funeral Home in Warsaw. The three finalized the purchase of the Carrollton facility on Friday, May 29.

“We’re very excited” about the purchase, Garnett said. “We’re going to try to get involved in the community as much as we can. We are very thankful for this opportunity to be a part of Carroll County.”

“I hope the people of Carroll County will accept us and in time get to know us,” said New.

“I, my family and co-workers are very fortunate to have this opportunity to serve the families of Carroll County, McDonald said.

Garnett is a 1987 graduate of Owen County High School and a 1990 graduate of Mid-America College of Funeral Service. He has been in the funeral business for 22 years. He was co-owner of Helvey-Garnett and Collins Funeral Home. He has been with McDonald Funeral Homes since 2000. He is co-owner with McDonald and New of the Garnett-New-McDonald Funeral Home, formerly Carlton-Louder, in Warsaw. Garnett and his wife, Stephanie, have four children. His brother, Lannis Garnett, is Owen County Coroner.

McDonald is a native of Fort Smith, Ark. He is a 1980 Owen County High School graduate and a 1988 graduate of Mid-America College of Funeral Service. He began his career in funeral service with his father, Thomas McDonald, in 1985 when the senior McDonald purchased the former Owen Funeral Service. He is married to the former Tammy Searcy, a 1982 Carroll County High School graduate.

New grew up in Monterey and has been active in the funeral business since his senior year in high school. He worked for 15 years for Thomas McDonald before buying half interest in the McDonald and New Funeral Home in Owenton. He and wife Leigh have two sons.

“This is the only profession I have ever been in,” New said. “I like people and helping people in time of need.”

Graham-Dunn Funeral Home has served the local area for more than 70 years in the same location.

Carroll Dudley “Red” Graham opened the business following the 1937 flood after having served as manager of the Carrollton Kroger store, his daughter, Jane Arnold said. Graham became Carroll County Coroner in 1941. Initially, he, his wife Frances and their two daughters had living quarters in the funeral home facility. As the business grew, the living quarters shrank. The family eventually took residence at 1003 Seminary Street in 1954.

Graham purchased the building next door to the funeral home at 215 Fifth Street in 1961. After remodeling, the two buildings were operated as one facility, allowing Graham to “serve the public with greater efficiency and more comfort and convenience to our clientele,” according to a 1961 newspaper advertisement announcing the acquisition.

“In the more than 15 years we have been priviledged to serve the people of this area at the same location, it has been our purpose to give thoughtful service and help to lighten the burden of sorrow,” Graham said at the time. “Your acceptance has been both a revelation and challenge to greater efforts through service.”

While in business Graham trained six men in the funeral profession, including Jimmy Dunn. At the time of Graham’s death at the age of 64 in 1976, four of the six owned and were operating their own funeral businesses, Arnold said.

Dunn began working at the Graham Funeral Home while a junior in high school. At the time of Graham’s retirement in 1974, Dunn purchased the business, changing the name to Graham-Dunn Funeral Home. In addition to his duties as a funeral director, Dunn served in a number of capacities in county government, including deputy sheriff, deputy judge-executive and deputy coroner. Like his former boss, Dunn became Carroll County Coroner, serving in that capacity from 1980 until his death at the age of 64 on May 20, 2008, after a long battle with cancer.

“We knew Jim very well,” Garnett said. He and his partners have assisted with the operation of the funeral home since Dunn’s death. “We’ve been helping out as much as we could with some of the embalming,” he said, “but we haven’t been able to be involved” in every facet of the business during the past year.

“Jimmy contacted me about two years ago needing help with a funeral service,” McDonald said. “In an indirect manner, we have all been a part of Carroll County ever since.”

According to Garnett, the facility will retain the name by which the community has known it since Dunn’s acquisition. “Our goal is to meet the needs and earn the respect of every family we serve and continue the tradition of Graham-Dunn Funeral Home,” he said

“All prearranged funerals currently on file will be honored,” McDonald said.

Some changes are in the works in the forseeable future. “We’re going to put in a new showroom for casket display, and a new preparation room for embalming,” Garnett said. “We have access to additional parking. Very soon we’ll be adding a 24-hour obituary line.”

“I have a great deal of respect for the Dunn family,” McDonald said. “They, their spouses, most importantly God, and many others too numerous to mention have made this opportunity possible. Doors of opportunity have opened for us in a way that is truly miraculous ever since we began this venture.”