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Funeral home under new management

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By Linda Ireland

A Hodgenville funeral home is under new management after the retirement of a long-time employee.

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Billy Howell, director of Billy Howell Funeral Chapel on Lincoln Boulevard, retired in October after an extended illness. He now is living with relatives.

Rondal Wright, who has owned the funeral home nine years, began looking for a new manager. He turned to Ron Rust, a Lyons Station native who owned funeral homes in New Haven and Boston and is a close friend of Howell.

The chapel continued to operate under Howell’s name until the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors approved the change to Rust-Wright Funeral Home. 

The transition has proven to be a smooth one.

“Billy’s a good man,” said Rust, a 1978 graduate of LaRue County High School. “We worked together a long time – he would help out at New Haven and I would work here. When he got sick, we talked together of how we could keep this business for the community.”

Wright, Bank of Buffalo President, said he bought the 10,000-square-feet funeral chapel at auction “to make sure people in the community had a choice.” Two other funeral homes in the county are owned by the same families.

“It’s a beautiful facility,” said Rust. “It’s on one level, no steps and handicap accessible.” He added there is enough room to serve the funeral needs of two or three families at a time.

After more than 30 years in the funeral home business, Rust said he has learned that his business is seen as a “ministry.”

“People look to us for answers, to take care of their loved ones,” he said. “It’s not all about money.”

“Everyone will be treated and talked to with the utmost respect,” he added. “We’ll try to accommodate what the families want.”

Rust said the funeral home will continue the legacy of Williams-Miller-Sego Funeral Home, once located on Lincoln Square. The business was sold to Bobby Brownfield who built the chapel in its current location.

Rust will be assisted by funeral directors Julie Houk and Frank Bryan. Each will continue to work at the New Haven and Boston locations as need arises.

Wright, who has been in banking and farming for 47 years, will have a presence at the funeral home on occasion and help out as needed. His current schedule does not permit him to work there full-time, he said.

He stays busy at the bank and overseeing progress of construction on the new Sunrise Manor Nursing Home. He has served as chairman of the board at Sunrise for more than 30 years.