A state board has revoked the license of an Anson County funeral home operator, saying authorities found unburied bodies in the facility and alleging several customers complained about not getting refunds or pre-paid services.
The operator of the funeral home, about 50 miles east of Charlotte in Wadesboro, denies the claims.
The N.C. Board of Funeral Services says it voted March 14 to revoke the establishment permit of F&M McLendon Funeral Home in Wadesboro and the service license of its operator, Mary McLendon. Operators of funeral homes without permits face criminal citations if they try to provide funeral services, according to a spokesman for the state board.
“I’ve been painted as a business person that has done wrong,” McLendon said in an interview. Nobody has told “the truth about how I conduct business,” she said.
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In a letter announcing the decision, the board says it received complaints from five people. In addition, it said the Wadesboro Police and Anson County Sheriff’s Office evicted McLendon from the funeral home, on North Greene Street, after finding three bodies in the home in November 2010.
The board said McLendon told a law enforcement officer the bodies were of people who had died that month. In fact, the board said, one of the deceased, Richard Bennett, had died five months earlier. Another, Willie Mae Odom, had been dead for six weeks, the board said. And Larry Kendall had died about a month earlier, according to the board’s letter.
The board said the bodies were taken to another funeral home for cremation and funeral services.
A spokesman for the board said its executive director has resigned, and the board president could not be reached.
McLendon told the Observer that the incident happened when her funeral home was in foreclosure proceedings.
“That was two years ago, in foreclosure,” she said. “They were scheduled for cremation. The families have the remains in their homes. This is old. I can’t believe they’re bringing this up.”
The state board also said it received complaints from five people about financial problems.
For example, it said one complainant, Myra Bennett, said she had paid in 1999 for funeral services for a family member. When that relative, Clara Bennett, died in 2011, she said she used a different funeral service – and that McLendon never forwarded the money.
In a Facebook post late Tuesday night, McLendon contested that complaint. She said she paid the other funeral service, Smith Funeral Home, and that company showed proof of payment to the state funeral board.
The state board said another complaint came from Dorothy Kirkley, who said she paid in advance for a relative’s funeral service – but never got the service when the relative died. But Kirkley told the Observer that’s not true. She said she contacted the board because she was unable to get in touch with McLendon, but eventually reached her. “She’s a very wonderful funeral director,” Kirkley said.
Unless she is able to overturn the state board’s action in court, McLendon will be barred from providing funeral services for at least a year, according to the state board. She also has been ordered to pay restitution to those who complained and must take continuing education courses.