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The long-standing funeral home at 202 S. Campbell St. has a new staff, new vehicles, a lounge area for families, a conference room, a casket room, a 200-seat chapel and redecorated interior.
It was established in 1937 as Babbage Funeral Home by Edward W. Babbage. In 2003, it was renamed Brooks Haven Memorial Funeral Home, and most recently it was called Brooks, Redd and Hollowell.
“Mr. Babbage,” as Brown called him, started the funeral home in a small house where the parking lot now is. Babbage, who died in 1997, trained several other black funeral directors in Hopkinsville, including Brown.
When he graduated from high school, Brown planned to go to nursing school, but his appendix burst and he couldn’t start the semester. Instead, he chose to go to mortuary school at Mid-America College of Funeral Service. “I didn’t know anybody in the funeral business,” Brown recalled, but upon graduating, Mr. Babbage was sitting in the audience with his family.
“I worked here for 20 years under him,” Brown said, sitting at his office desk, “and now I’m half proprietor — you can’t tell me it’s not fate.”
As a new owner, Brown has some new ideas about the services they will offer. He said it’s important to meet each family where they’re at, both financially and emotionally.
“People want more and to save costs at the same time,” he said. “Each family is different, and you just have to adjust. You have to understand everyone doesn’t have the funds.”
The casket room is arranged where families can shop for the burial at different price points. He noted there are personalized options, and each family gets a memorial blanket.
Brown, who is also pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church in Guthrie, believes he is equipped to offer not only affordable funeral services but also “sound biblical knowledge” during grief.
“I’m a people person,” he said, “and you have to love people and family. You’re in a position to help individuals during that time and after.”
Even with his new ideas, the funeral director and embalmer said he still recalls wise words from Babbage and the things he used to do.
“He used to give out these rulers that said, ‘Treat others as you would want to be treated,’” Brown noted. “He taught me to treat every family the same and to treat them how they’d want to be treated. Every family is different and special.”