Magnolia Funeral Home’s services continue to expand with the addition of a crematory at the South Chapel.

After a major renovation to the former Hight Funeral Home, Magnolia used available space in a separate building at the South Chapel on Highway 45 just south of Corinth to add the crematory facility. With Magnolia Gardens – formerly Forrest Memorial Park – it gives the business a funeral chapel, cemetery and crematory on one property.

“It’s something Magnolia has always wanted to do, because whenever people come into our care, we want them to stay in our care until the services are complete,” said Manager Greg Woodruff.

The next closest crematories are in Saltillo and Selmer. While all funeral homes usually offer cremation services, many of them subcontract the cremation process to third parties, he said.

The crematory, which was installed in space that was unfinished by the original owner, has been operational for a couple of months. Four members of Magnolia’s staff are licensed and certified to operate the facility.

Cremation is increasing in popularity as an alternative to burial.

“Some of it might have to do with the transient society, that people are not as specific to one place anymore,” said Woodruff, who serves on the board of the Mississippi Funeral Directors Association.

And there are other considerations, such as the lesser cost of cremation and the saving of land by reducing the number of burials.

Owned by Jimmy and Shelia Calvary, Magnolia took over Forrest Memorial Park in May 2019. The large funeral home facility sitting adjacent to the cemetery had been dormant since 2012.

“The main problem was the roof that was leaking and had caused a lot of water damage,” said Woodruff.

After extensive repairs put the building back in top form, Magnolia was getting ready to host an open house at the new South Chapel last spring when the pandemic hit. As a result, the opening has been somewhat low-key, but the chapel is available and has hosted a number of services.

In addition to the large chapel, Magnolia South includes two visitation areas, an arrangement suite, and a luxuriously appointed foyer and lounge area. Office space was converted to a family reception center than can seat up to 60 people. Woodruff said it’s a space where families can have sit-down meals after their services or gather to have a less formal memorial service.

In the 15-acre cemetery, Magnolia has opened two new sections which will allow for the placement of upright markers.

“Everything else out here has been ground-level markers,” said Woodruff. “We’ve had some families that have requested to have an upright marker, kind of like you would see in a church cemetery.”

Customers who already own spaces in the other sections have the option of transferring to one of the new ones.

The Highway 72 location is now known as the Magnolia Funeral Home East Chapel. The Magnolia family hopes locals will be pleased with the new services and improvements at the Highway 45 property.

“We’ve worked hard to offer the absolute best in services to families and be an important partner in the community,” said Jimmy Calvary, owner. “We’ve come a long way and continue to look forward.”

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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