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Timeline of Thos. Shepherd & Son funeral home

Here is a timeline of the Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors history and N.C. Board of Funeral Service action that resulted in its closure.

1903: Thomas Shepherd manages a furniture and general merchandise store at 218 Main Street where he sells coffins on the side. Thomas Shepherd later buys out his brother, M.M. Shepherd.

1924: Thomas Shepherd opens one of the first funeral homes in Western North Carolina.

1934: Thomas’s son, William, joins the family business, later serving as president and managing funeral director until his death in 1965. During his leadership, the company opens Shepherd Memorial Park, the first public nonsectarian perpetual care cemetery in Henderson County.

1965: Thomas Redmond Shepherd becomes managing funeral director of the funeral home.

Nov. 19, 2018: Board of Funeral Service enters into a consent order with the funeral home to resolve a complaint. The order places Thomas Shepherd on a stayed suspension for one year, contingent on complying with statutes and rules governing the funeral business.

June 24-25, 2020: Board inspector Christopher Stoessner during an onsite visit finds numerous violations of funeral home regulations and state laws governing funeral services and crematories.

Oct. 27, 2020: Board issues a show-cause order directing Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors to respond to numerous complaints from families and other funeral directors and to the inspector’s findings.

Nov. 3, 2020: The funeral home provides a statement to the board that Thomas Shepherd, who had undergone a medical procedure four days earlier, “is not currently competent to address violations set forth in the Notice of Hearing to Show Cause.”

Nov. 4, 2020: In an order for summary suspension, the board shuts down the funeral home, saying that “emergency action was warranted … to protect public health, safety, and welfare.”

Nov. 18, 2020: Board conducts a hearing on the violations and, 13 days later, issues an order upholding the summary suspension.

Sept. 14, 2021: Board issues an amended notice of hearing to show cause, which adds details of other complaints the board has received, and sets a hearing for Nov. 10, 2021, on a total of 10 complaints.

Nov. 10, 2021: Thomas Shepherd and Melody Shepherd, who is president of Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors, participate in a board hearing via WebEx. The Shepherds do not have an attorney present.

Dec. 8, 2021: The board and its general counsel issue Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Final Agency Decision. The order revokes the funeral director license of Thomas R. Shepherd, revokes the preneed establishment permit and preneed sales licenses, the at-need licenses and permits of Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors, and revokes the crematory manager permit of Melody Shepherd. Thomas Shepherd, Melody Shepherd and Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors are barred from re-applying for licenses and permits for five years. The board directs its staff to refer findings of the order to law enforcement authorities “for consideration as to whether criminal charges are warranted.”

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SOURCES: Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors website; “Images of America: Hendersonville,” by Galen Reuther and Lu Ann Welter; N.C. Board of Funeral Service records; Hendersonville Lightning reporting.