• 52°

Riles Funeral Home has a new owner, but a familiar name

Riles Funeral Home has a new owner and takes on a familiar name — Fisher-Riles.

Southern Mississippi Funeral Services LLC, a family-owned Mississippi company founded in 1988 that owns a group of funeral homes in south Mississippi, including Frank J. Fisher Funeral Home, completed the acquisition Tuesday. John Pearce with Southern Mississippi Funeral Services declined to give the amount of the sale.

The sale comes on the heels of Riles Funeral Home’s owner Charles Riles announcement of his retirement.

“Fisher-Riles is a name that Vicksburg has known for several years in days gone by,” said Thomas Laird, marketing director for Fisher-Riles. “Mr. Charles at one time owned Fisher Funeral Home in Vicksburg.”

In 2002, Laird said, Riles established Riles Funeral Home on Indiana Avenue.

“And now at his retirement, he wants to continue his legacy, and he has entrusted us to continue that legacy,” he said.

“And we having owned Fisher Funeral Home already, thought it would be wise not to differentiate between what Vicksburg’s already known and go back to the name that people knew, Fisher-Riles.”

Laird said no decision has been made about the management of the Indiana location, adding the company was fortunate to have Jason Wood, who was at the former Riles Funeral Home since 2015, and spent five years with Fisher before joining Riles. Vinnie Testa is the manager of Fisher.

“I don’t think the community is going to see anything but a continuation of the great service that both locations have offered.  Nothing’s really changed,” Laird said.

“We will continue to serve our families with the same professionalism and respect they expect from Riles Funeral Home and Fisher Funeral Home,” Wood said.

“And what we learned from Charles,” Laird said. “He’s a legend in the funeral industry in Mississippi.”

Pearce said he was pleased with the acquisition.

“We were honored Charles chose us,” Pearce said. “There were many people he could have sold to, but he chose us.”

Established in 1854 by Frank J. Fisher, Fisher Funeral Home was originally located at 908 Grove St. until the 1940s when the business was moved to its present location on Cherry Street.

It was the first funeral home in Mississippi to offer horse-drawn carriages, first to have an air-conditioned building, first to have motorized vehicles, and the first embalming was performed by Frank J. Fisher.

Charles Riles Funeral Home opened in July 2002 at 5000 Indiana Ave.

A Vicksburg native, Riles was associated with Frank J. Fisher Funeral Home starting in 1960, and owned Fisher-Riles Funeral Home until 1995 and later was a consultant for the firm.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John