Kirkpatrick retires after nearly 5 decades

Published 12:01 am Thursday, January 31, 2013


“Faithful and true” – it’s a description that can go both ways for the men behind Kirkpatrick Funeral Chapel.

Owner C.L. Kirkpatrick has made it his life’s mission to serve the people of Covington County in their time of need. Now, that’s Howard Barrett’s job.

Kirkpatrick said Wednesday he made the decision to open the funeral home some 47 years ago after beginning a career in insurance.

“It was then that I fell in love with helping people; in doing for them in their time of need,” he said.

Barrett, a Lockhart resident and fulltime employee at Eglin Air Force Base, began working for Kirkpatrick in 1994. He will now serve as the chapel’s manager.

“I’ve been with him for the good and the bad, the good times and the hard times,” Barrett said. “Mr. Kirkpatrick, he took me under his wing and taught me everything I need to know about the funeral home business.”

With that Kirkpatrick agreed, saying that Barrett exemplified the qualities needed to be a funeral home director.

“You got to be dedicated to service,” he said. “Harold has proven to be faithful, loyal and true to this business and this family. He dedicated his heart and mind and soul to this business. That’s what you look for in a funeral director.”

Barrett is no stranger to Andalusia. In fact, the building down the road from the chapel – the Will Coleman Recreational Facility – is named for his grandfather. He said residents won’t notice any big changes with the way things are handled at the funeral home. They will, though, notice the cosmetic improvements to the building, he said.

“I’m excited to prove myself,” he said. “The services will basically stay the same. We’re going to work on the building, but inside – different people will bring different attitudes – and I think the community will be pleased.”

As for Kirkpatrick, he said he’s ready to retire. He plans to spend his time giving back to the community. He got a good start in 2010 after donating the property and funding to the city for what is now the site of the Kirkpatrick Park. The park is named in honor of his wife Sallie Ann, who perished in a fire that destroyed the family’s home in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.

“Community service is my main objective now,” he said. “This community has been so good to me. I plan to give back as much as I can, as long as I can.

“But, I’m also going to try to take it easier and do what my doctor says I should do to stay her longer,” he said. “Just because I’m in the funeral business doesn’t mean I’ll be homesick.”