Snell-McLean Funeral Home’s closure upsets family

Ruth Acord of Clifton and her sister Karen Smith of Hotchkiss are planning their mother’s funeral for the second time.

The sisters thought they had the arrangements taken care of when Smith and her husband bought a preplanned funeral package five years ago from Snell-McLean Funeral Home, using money their mother saved. Then Acord spotted a recent ad in the Daily Sentinel for an auction of properties at 332 E. Aspen Ave. in Fruita and 729 37 3/10 Road in Palisade, the addresses for Snell-McLean’s two locations.

Acord said she received no other notice that the funeral home had closed. Her sister called around to local funeral homes and discovered Snell-McLean had given its prepaid funeral records to Callahan-Edfast Mortuary. The mortuary told Smith she could move her mother’s funeral package to another funeral home, but the package for which the family paid $5,170.61 now had a balance of $3,881.85.

“(Snell-McLean) skimmed 25 percent off what we paid,” Acord said. “I felt very cheated. I just don’t think that’s right, especially when they didn’t call and explain.”

Callahan-Edfast co-owner Nikki Blackburn confirmed Thursday the account did not lose money because their funeral services would cost more, but because Snell-McLean, like all funeral homes, was legally allowed to retain up to 25 percent of each prepaid service package when it went out of business. Blackburn said not every family lost that amount, and records she received from Snell-McLean show some packages didn’t lose any money.

Blackburn called what happened to the Acord and Smith families “legal but unfortunate.” She said there isn’t much competition for funeral services in the Grand Valley, but she guessed the economy eventually pushed Snell-McLean to close.

“The economy is not good, and everyone thinks funeral directors are rolling in money, and they’re not. They just couldn’t keep up,” Blackburn said.

Snell-McLean was co-owned by Barb and Jim Snell. The phone numbers for the Fruita and Palisade businesses and a number for Jim Snell are disconnected. A fourth number for the pair worked, but calls made to that number were not returned last week.

Snell-McLean’s status is listed as noncompliant in Secretary of State records.

Smith said she’s trying to price out the best place to take her mother’s funeral package, but she worries about finding nearly $1,300 to fully fund the funeral before her ailing, 93-year-old mother passes away.

“We’re scrambling,” she said. “We didn’t know they could do this.”


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