The operators of a Rimbey funeral home have been sanctioned by their industry’s regulatory board for delays in delivering monuments to clients.
Laverne and Michelle Oberhammer, who run Oberhammer Funeral Chapel, have each had their funeral director’s licence suspended temporarily and received other penalties from the Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board.
The board conducted a hearing into the Oberhammers’ conduct on June 25, and said in a decision issued earlier this month that the couple failed to provide monuments in a timely manner.
Board chair Cam Davis told the Advocate that the definition of “timely” is flexible, depending on what point in the year a monument is ordered. For example, one requested in the fall would likely not be erected until spring, so a reasonable delivery timeline would be longer, he said.
“These were monuments that were being ordered in the spring and not being installed by the fall, which would mean it was not within that timely manner,” said Davis of the Oberhammers’ situation. “And there wasn’t proper communication saying why.”
Davis stressed that the board’s investigation of the Oberhammers related only to their delivery of monuments.
“There’s nothing wrong with any of the funeral services they provided.”
Laverne Oberhammer emphasized this point.
“By no means does it reflect on the funeral service industry or our funeral services that we offer to our families.”
He acknowledged that Oberhammer Funeral Chapel had not delivered monuments ordered through it in a timely manner, but pointed out that it is no longer involved in this aspect of the industry.
“We no longer represent any monument companies at all, and won’t in the future.
“Our focus is on the funeral service for the families.”
Davis said the investigation of the Oberhammers was triggered by a complaint.
The couple was also accused of failing to comply with the Alberta Funeral Services code of conduct and responding to the board’s investigator. Davis said these charges arose during the investigation.
“They didn’t provide the information for the investigation in as timely a manner as they should.”
In addition to the suspension of his funeral director’s licence until March 31, 2015, Laverne Oberhammer is prohibited from becoming a business manager until the same date, and from entering into contracts for funeral services. He must also complete an ethics and jurisprudence course.
Michelle Oberhammer’s funeral director’s licence is suspended from Aug. 31 to Nov. 30, and her business manager licence from Aug. 31 until March 31, 2015. She is required to arrange for an alternate business manager to oversee operations at Oberhammer Funeral Chapel during this period.