Hot Springs, Arkansas -- This past weekend the Arkansas Funeral Directors Association held its annual convention at The Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The Covid pandemic had prevented the last two annual conventions from taking place, and so it was the first time for three years that the association was able to gather together as one. It was a day of reunions and enjoying all being under the same roof again!
The convention kicked off with a continuing education class on Forensic Findings Pertaining to the Funeral Industry, led by Dr. Frank J. Peretti, M.D. At the annual business meeting of the organization, the outgoing President Scott Berna gave highlights of the last years, focusing on the work of the association with the recent ERAVE bill and its work for all funeral homes throughout the pandemic. We were also glad to be joined by Chris Christian, who attended on behalf of NFDA.
The evening’s events began with a cocktail reception, sponsored by Selected Funeral & Life Insurance Company, followed by the annual awards banquet. After memorializing those we had lost in the intervening three years, two new members were inducted into the Hall of Fame. The individual award was posthumously presented to Fred “B. Bud” Wilkerson of Wilkerson Funeral Home, De Queen, who passed away in 2017; the Hall of Fame Family Award was given to the Lewis Family, recognizing four generations of dedicated service to the funeral service in Arkansas, beginning with the founding of Lewis Funeral Home, Magnolia, in 1904.
Former President Kenny Culpepper was honored with the Funeral Director of the Year award, recognizing his outstanding service during the Covid pandemic and his extended two-year term. Kenny is the President of Griffin-Culpepper Funeral Home in McGehee, Arkansas.
Chris Christian was present to induct the new AFDA Board for 2022-2023, welcoming Jeri Lynn Davenport of Smith Family Funeral Homes - Benton as Treasurer and Charles “Chuck” E. Fuller of Fuller-Hale South Funeral Services as Secretary. Also serving on the board are David Tucker as President-Elect, Robert Kaelin as Vice President, and Tom Compton as State Board Representative. The event climaxed with the Passing of the Gavel, as outgoing President Scott Berna made way for our newest President, Ladonna Smith of Smith Family Funeral Homes - Glenwood.