Making Grieving Convenient

July 31, 1995|By Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Orlando, home of countless drive-through restaurants, has a new twist on the do-it-from-your-car business: a funeral home with a drive-up viewing window.

The Kennington-Jones Funeral Home officially unveiled the 8 1/2 -foot-wide viewing window Saturday. Co-owner Harold Jones said it's designed as a convenience for bereaved families.

"Family members are always late," Mr. Jones, 44, a former limousine driver, said. "And once a funeral home is closed, they don't open the door. I know there will be a demand for it."

Mr. Jones said he got the idea from a friend who has a similar setup at his Jacksonville funeral home -- believed to be the only other drive-up viewing window in Florida. A few exist in Detroit, Chicago and Atlanta, according to Mr. Jones.

"We are on the map," he said proudly. He was so proud, in fact, that the funeral home held a ribbon-cutting, reception and gospel concert in honor of the grand opening.

The window, on Minoso Street at Bruton Boulevard in southwest Orlando, features fluorescent lights for better viewing. Mr. Jones, who bought the funeral parlor several months ago and held his first service last week, is installing an intercom so passers-by can talk to an attendant.

Mr. Jones also plans to post a display board with the deceased's name and time and place of service. Outside, a guest register locked in a theft-proof case will be available.

Mr. Jones said he used bulletproof glass to make sure no one desecrates the bodies. He also plans to install a security video camera.

"The one that died, maybe he's a dope dealer who may have sold some bad drugs," said Mr. Jones, whose funeral home's motto is "Where service never ends."

"How am I going to explain that your brother is all shot up in the face? It sounds weird, but think about it," he said.

The window also will come in handy for people who don't feel comfortable getting too close to corpses, for out-of-town relatives and friends who arrive after viewing hours and for family members who are afraid children might poke at the deceased, Mr. Jones said.

Drive-through viewings must be requested by the family, and they don't cost anything additional.

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