BY MELANIE BUCK –
Beasley Wood Funeral Home has recently been purchased by a new owner that plans to keep the same caring and compassionate atmosphere that has served the Mena community since 1928. Billy Curl, a retired U.S. veteran, closed the deal this month to become the new owner of not only Beasley Wood in Mena, but also three others within the same group. “I’m excited to work with the Mena crew,” he said.
Curl is a native of Newport, Arkansas, graduating high school in 1984, and immediately joining the Arkansas National Guard. “I worked my way into the mortuary business in the late 80’s,” Curl explained. He attended a mortuary school in Memphis, Tennessee and later opened Mid-South Mortuary Service in that area. The business soon became one of the largest mortuary services in the Mid-South area and remains so to this day. He sold the mortuary service to except a full time position as an Apache helicopter Instructor for the U.S. Army Aviation Support Facility in Tupelo, Mississippi.
“It came to a point where I had to decide whether I wanted to be in the military full time or in the mortuary business full time. I wanted to attend flight school and I got accepted so I went that route.” And indeed, Curl not only attended flight school, but served his country overseas. Flying Kiowa Warrior Helicopters (a scout attack helicopter) and Apache Helicopters, his last three years in the service, Curl in the first set of aviation units to be dispatched to Iraq in 2003. “I was with the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment in 2003 at Fort Carson, Colorado before going to Iraq. We were the tip of the spear unit.” In 2004, Curl was awarded the Army Air-medal and two commendation medals for his combat service in IRAQ and received the highest award available from the state of Mississippi (The Mississippi Magnolia Cross for his service with valor in IRAQ). Billy serves on multiple veteran service committees throughout the state in support of veterans.
He spent a total of 24 ½ years in the military before retiring in 2006.
Having a family, his wife of 26 years, Freda, and four children from ages 5 to 30, he wanted to be close to home. While launching into military retirement, Curl decided to get back into his learned profession. “A funeral home in Blytheville, Arkansas came up for sale in April 2012. I bought it (Cobb Funeral Home) and the corporation that owned that also owned Beasley Wood and three others. I maintained a relationship with that company and last year, I found out they were going to sell the remaining four,” explained Curl. He would move forward with plans to purchase the four remaining and closed the deal in August 2016.
“Everything will stay the same. We will keep the same staff,” he said. “We will improve the properties and our pricing structure will be innovative. We understand the tough times the American consumer is going through and we will try to come up with pricing plans for anyone’s budget.”
He went on to say that every market area is different and he wants each staff to understand what is most needed in each community. “We want to identify what people want in cremation and traditional funerals in Mena.”
Curl is a community minded man with intentions on being supportive of and involved in local civic clubs and community groups. “We want to allow the employees to be involved. We are going to strive for that,” said Curl.
“I think customer service is our number one priority. You have to have compassion and have to be able to serve these families and help them achieve their goals. A lot of times, some of these funeral directors and owners want to get them in and out. We want to follow through afterword with grief counseling. We want to be able to work with local churches and give direction to that family member that’s left behind.
We try to put the value of the funeral back in the business,” said Curl.