Since 1993, Hal and Val Taylor have been helping Frankfort families lay their loved ones to rest.
The Taylors, who celebrate 35 years of marriage this year, are the owners of LeCompte, Johnson and Taylor Funeral Home.
They take pride in easing the process of funeral planning for their customers and even try to provide them with a little laughter along the way.
“I put the fun back in funeral,” Hal said.
But, in all seriousness, Hal said he enjoys being able to help people in their time of need when they’re grieving.
“We can help ease that a little bit,” he said.
Hal and Val live on a small farm in Franklin County. They have three adult children, Mackenzie, Lincoln and Jackson.
FRANK.: How did you get into the funeral business?
Hal: My aunt and uncle owned a funeral home in Shelbyville. As a kid, we would go there to have family get-togethers. They lived upstairs at the funeral home. When I was a junior in high school, some of the guys who worked there invited me to join them during the summer.
Val: I have a nursing degree from WKU and worked doing that while Hal worked for his aunt for 10 years until Mr. LeCompte knocked on the door and said he was interested in selling his funeral home. We went and talked to an accountant and bought it — even though we didn’t have any money. But, Mr. LeCompte handpicked Hal to do it. We were scared to own a business, but we moved here to the upstairs of the funeral home. We lived here for three years with the kids.
FRANK.: What was it like raising kids in a funeral home?
Val: When Hal had a funeral, I would take the kids over to the game farm and pull them around in a wagon.
The kids thought the funeral home was very cool. Their friends thought it was the coolest because we had a Coke machine. When there wasn’t anything going on, they would go downstairs and play. They had a lot of room to run around. Even though I told them to stay out of the casket showroom, they’ve told me since that they used to crawl into the caskets.
Hal: Mackenzie would jump across her room and the chandeliers downstairs would shake during services.
Val: I tried to keep them quiet during services. After services when we were downstairs cleaning up, Mackenzie would give a service to the person who was lying in the casket. She would have her brother sit and listen while she gave a sermon. I told people their loved ones were actually getting two services.
Hal: One time, Mackenzie left a toy in the couch and right before a service was about to start, I sat on it. I was glad I found it and not someone else.
FRANK.: What’s it been like to work together all of these years?
Val: I’m the brains and he’s the brawns. He loves the prep part of the funeral business. I like the accounting and the paper work.
It always just kind of worked out. I worked for the state the first 10 years. I quickly saw that I couldn’t do both. I have taken a bit of a break recently and started working for Franklin Insurance.
FRANK.: Do you ever get to take time off?
Val: We’re not stuck at the funeral home all of the time. Hal will arrange time off when the Cats are playing basketball or football.
Hal: We go the tournaments. We’ve gone to Indianapolis and Atlanta.
Val: We went to the Outback Bowl in Tampa. We went to Texas A&M this year.
Hal: We don’t get away a lot, but when we do, it’s fun things we go do. I’m traveling more the last three months than I have in years.
Val: Mackenzie moved to Manhattan six months ago. I told Hal we we’re going to New York in December to see her. I bought the tickets. I also planned for us to go to Madison Square Garden to watch UK while we were there. Mackenzie likes the Cats, too. She was excited.
I’m also going to Iceland with a group of women soon. I’ve never been out of the country. I’m getting older and I’ve been in this business a log time, so I decided I’m going to start traveling. I might go to Italy too.
FRANK.: What places are on your travel bucket lists?
Val: We want to go out West. We want to go to Key West. Life is short. We need to travel.
Hal: I want to go to Jackson Hole. I want to do things before I die.
FRANK.: What’s in your future?
Hal: Funeral home owners just always seem to keep going. Who knows what’s ahead.
Val: Hal will be crawling up those steps to go to work at 99 (years old).
FRANK.: How do you unwind?
Val: We bought a farm — 120 acres on Lewis Ferry Road on the Kentucky River.
Hal: It’s peaceful and quiet and that’s what you need after working at the funeral home all week. I do a lot of mowing.
The first year we raised corn. I don’t do it anymore with how busy the funeral home is. I have a gentleman who leases some of the land. He cuts hay and raises crops. I’m thinking of getting cattle.
Val: Both of us grew up on farms.
Hal: When I was in mortuary school, I had to cut tobacco and set tobacco on my family’s farm during the summer.
Val: I had to cut and set tobacco one summer too.