T he Main St. funeral home is one of the oldest businesses in Owenton. A feature article in the News- Herald in January 1957 states the business was originally known as C.F. Beverly and Son Funeral Home. Additionally, the News-Herald list advertising for Clark Vaults using the diving bell principle, sold by the C.F. Beverly Funeral Home in a 1918 edition. Sometime after 1918, “Son” was added to the name. In 1925 Lon Watson partnered with C.F. Beverly. In 1926, Oscar Orr partnered with Lon Watson to become known as Watson and Orr Funeral Home. They were in business until 1947 when Josh Kemper became a partner with Oscar Orr and the funeral home became Kemper and Orr Funeral Home. In 1957, Bill Arnold joined the funeral home with Josh Kemper and the name was changed to Kemper and Arnold Funeral Home.
Thomas L. McDonald was an employee of the former Kemper and Arnold Funeral Home during the 1960's. In 1985, he became owner of both Kemper and Arnold and Smither and Coates.
The Seminary Street location was originally operated by Clayton Hartsough in the late 1800s. In 1906, B.W. Redding came from Corinth to partner with Clayton Hartsough. Sometime after Mr. Hartsough’s death in 1911, B.W. Redding’s son, John Sherfy Redding, became partners with his father. In 1936, B.W. Redding died and John Sherfy operated the business by himself until 1952 when Maurice J. Smither bought part interest in the funeral home. John Sherfy Redding drowned at Perry Park in 1954. J.R. Kemper merged with John Sherfy Redding and Maurice J. Smither and the name became Redding-Smither and Kemper Funeral Home. J.R. Kemper came from Monterey where he operated a funeral home since 1945. 1954 was also the year Mr. H.H. Sullivan died. Sullivan had operated a funeral home in Monterey. In 1960, Herschel Coates came to Owenton from Rogers Funeral Home in Frankfort after 11 years to partner with J.R. Kemper. In 1961 Maurice J. Smither bought Kemper’s part and the name was Smither-Coates Funeral Home. Maurice J. Smither was an undertaker for 25 years.
The two businesses became one corporation in 1967- Owen Funeral Service, Inc. with four stockholders: Josh Kemper, Bill Arnold, Herschel Coates and Maurice J. Smither. The two businesses operated as two separate divisions. Tom McDonald bought both locations and the furniture store in 1985 and changed the name to McDonald Funeral Homes, keeping Herschel Coates and Lloyd Bramblett as employees and adding his son, Mike McDonald, to the staff. Mike began his apprenticeship and became fully Licensed Funeral Director in 1988 and Embalmer in 1989. In 1988, Bryan New was hired. He soon served his apprenticeship and became Licensed.
Tommy had worked at the funeral home since 1965. From 1981 until 1985 Tom was also part owner of Family Billiards. Tommy still works at the funeral home from time to time and has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer for over 35 years. He also worked for 10 years in the funeral home before becoming licensed.
In 2002, Mike McDonald, Tom’s son, along with Bryan New bought the funeral homes and the name was changed to McDonald & New Funeral Homes. The firm currently employs Mark Garnett and Jennifer Duncan as licensed funeral directors and embalmers and recently hired, local Owen countian, Milford Sipple.
Rev. David “Milkweed” Wotier (Lic. Funeral Director, Mayor, Minister, Chaplin, Mr. Everything) still helps out part-time and was a full-time employee of McDonald Funeral Homes. He resigned from full time work with us in 2003 to become full time Chaplin and Social Director at the New Horizons Medical Center in Owenton. "Milkweed" still maintains his Kentucky Funeral Directors License and enjoys those annual CE Classes.
We hope you have found this information to be as enjoyable to read as it was to write. Because, as any funeral director will tell you, We could Write a Book about our experiences, But Nobody would Believe It!