/How Tough Times Affect Funeral Plans

How Tough Times Affect Funeral Plans

More and more people are opting for cremation these days.

The exponential growth in cremation trends spikes even more dramatically in rough economic times. (Knoxville Sentinel)

Helen Taylor tells of when Don Feezell opened the first crematorium in East Tennessee back in 1963.

‘He had about four cremations a year,’ she said recently. ‘But it grew almost every year, from four, then 16, then every year grew a little bit more.’

Today, Taylor, who was hired by Feezell in the early ’80s, is director of operations at East Tennessee Cremation Company, based near Maryville. It has more than 60 funeral establishments throughout East Tennessee and into Kentucky as customers.

The company that in 1963 directed four cremations from one furnace has four furnaces and averages more than 2,800 cremations a year. It is the largest crematorium in Tennessee and one of the largest nationwide, according to Brad Kuchnicki, executive director of The Independent Funeral Group, which now owns East Tennessee Cremation Co.

Those favoring cremation over cemetery burial cite the often exorbitant costs of traditional burial as well as headstones.