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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Funeral homes change owners

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reprinted with permission

The Qualls chain of funeral homes in Batesville and Cave City has been sold.

Randy McComas, owner of Tri-County Funeral Homes, LLC in Highland, took over the Qualls Batesville Funeral Service and Qualls Funeral Home in Cave City. The transaction was effective March 30.

McComas said all burial policies with the Qualls Funeral Homes will continue to be honored and the same staff will remain in both. Even the names won't be changed in the immediate future, McComas said.

"When you go in, you're going to see the same faces you've always seen. It's pretty much gong to be business as usual," he said.

The only change he plans to implement is help both funeral homes grow.

McComas said he has a silent partner in the business, Renee Clay-Circle, who serves as a director of Tri-County.

McComas was serving as funeral director when Clay-Circle's first husband, Eddie W. Thomas Jr. died in a plane crash on Christmas Eve three years ago.

Then along came the opportunity in May 2006 to buy Tri-County from the Madden family in Ashdown, and McComas said he couldn't think of a better business partner. He went to Clay-Circle and asked if she would be interested in purchasing the funeral home with him.

"When you are young you just don't think about death. I know that when my husband was killed unexpectedly in an airplane crash at age 37, I was glad to have someone like Randy to help me through the funeral process. He was so professional and took care of the funeral arrangements with the high expectations that I had.

"That is the reason I did not hesitate to become a partner with Randy. When someone dies, you need a funeral director that is professional .... to take care of those arrangements and needs,"?Clay-Circle continued.

Now, the two said they have seen the need in obtaining more funeral homes in the area that they could operate.

"Jeff called me in December and asked if I was interested in buying the funeral homes; he was ready to retire,"?McComas said.

Batesville Funeral Service was established in 1937 as a funeral home and ambulance service. Qualls and his wife, Karyn, took over the Batesville funeral home in early February 2001, then changed the name to Qualls Batesville Funeral Service. Qualls Funeral Home in Cave City opened June 30, 1991.

McComas grew up in Hardy, and his family moved to Batesville when he was 13. McComas is a 1993 honor graduate of Cord-Charlotte High School and attended Arkansas State University in ?Jonesboro for a year. That summer, he took a job at Tri-County, where he worked until March 1996. He then attended the Mid-America College of Funeral Services in Jeffersonville, Ind.

After graduating there, McComas came back to Tri-County and resumed management until the purchase last year.

McComas also served as a Sharp County deputy coroner under Jeff Qualls before running as county coroner. He is currently serving his second two-year term.

McComas and his wife, the former Michelle Seibert of Mammoth Spring, have a 10-year-old son,?Noah. McComas' father Mark, retired from Arkansas Eastman, and his mother, Tammy, worked at the First United Methodist Church in Batesville; they live in Saddle now. McComas said he still has other relatives in the Batesville area

Clay-Circle's background is in business, she said. A native of the Hardy area, she graduated from Highland High School and obtained a bachelor of science in business from ASU. Her father, Robert Clay, started a multi-region grocery business, Town &?Country and Price Chopper in the 1940s. In her role there, she oversaw some 1,200 employees in 22 stores.

She currently has several commercial real estate holdings, such as shopping centers, grocery stores, restaurants and office buildings. In addition she has investments and participates in the operation of such businesses as a mortgage company, grocery store, movie theater, commercial rice farm, 52-unit hotel, multiple storage facilities and a recreational campground that includes a canoe rental.

Clay-Circle sits on several boards and committees and participated in the recent construction of a veterans' memorial in Ash Flat. She has served on the ASU athletic board since 2000 and oversees an athletic scholarship fund set up in memory of her late husband.

She currently lives in Hardy with her husband,?Nathan Circle and three children, Amy and Katie Clay-Thomas and Austin Circle.

Qualls Batesville Funeral Service is located at 546 Harrison St. in the old Yeager home. It may be reached at 870-793-3831. Qualls Funeral Home in Cave City is located at 326 N. Main Street, and may be reached at 870-283-6111.

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