Warren’s McFarland-Barbee Funeral Home closing

WARREN — A funeral home that has been part of the Warren community for more than 120 years is closing its doors forever this weekend after an 18-month stint under new ownership.

“I am saddened by what has transpired, but this community deserves a lot, and I think they will do well in the future, but unfortunately I can’t be part of that at this time,” owner and director Mark Barbee said Thursday about McFarland-Barbee Funeral Home, 221 N. Park Ave. “After sitting down with my wife, our accountant and an attorney, we made the decision.”

On Saturday, the funeral home carrying the McFarland name, which has been a fixture in Warren since the 1890s, will close its doors. The staff of eight, mostly part-time and retirees, have been assisting in finishing out the final details for families they have served.

Barbee said they tried to offer families financial assistance and help in other areas of dealing with the loss of their loved ones. He also said he was certain his friends in the profession, many of whom also work in the city, would continue to assist families.

“We are taught at mortuary school that everybody deserves final rest. It is our duty to make that happen. Sometimes it cost us financially,” Barbee said.

Barbee came into the business from work in information technology at Akron Children’s Hospital, and at Shorts Spicer Crislip Funeral Home in Ravenna. He said he plans to return to that work, and his daughter, who had been a nurse and teacher, and also was involved in the business, was taking time off to care for her family, but may also return to the funeral home business sometime in the future.

“That’s part of the reason I renamed it to McFarland-Barbee Family Funeral Home,” Barbee said in February 2018, shortly after the funeral home was renamed. “I wanted people to know that it is still owned by a family, and it is going to cater to families — not just numbers.”

Barbee bought the business and during its transition, co-operated with fourth-generation family owner Jim McFarland, whose great-grandfather, William W. McFarland, bought the business in 1897.

For six years, McFarland Funeral Home operated in the oldest Warren storefront, which now houses Nova Coffee Co. on North Park Avenue on Courthouse Square, until moving to its current location further north on the same street.

“I am 99.9 percent out of it,” Jim McFarland said, referring to the funeral profession.

His part-time residency in Warren keeps him connected to the community.

“It is my community; it always will be,” McFarland said.

The McFarland Funeral Home has a long history, starting in 1845 as Trusdell and Townshend Furniture Store and funeral home furniture factory on South Park Avenue, with casket displays on South Main.

In the 1870s, Townshend sold to Clark and Raider, undertakers who had “learned the art of embalming after the Civil War,” McFarland said.

His great-grandfather, William W. McFarland, his grandfather, William R. McFarland, and father, David McFarland, 96, a World War II veteran, each took their turns running the funeral home.

Jim McFarland, who grew up in the business, took over in the 1980s, as the fourth-generation funeral director. When he turned the business over to Mark Barbee in 2017, it marked 120 years of McFarland family ownership.

Both men said they would continue helping families in the community.

“There will always be a need for the funeral business. What meets the families’ needs will always change,” McFarland said. “I am very proud of what we did. I believe we helped a lot of people.”

eearnhart@tribtoday.com

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