WINCHESTER, VA — In September of 1970, Omps Funeral Home opened the doors at its current location, 1600 Amherst Street in Winchester, VA, after servicing its community from funeral homes downtown since 1936. The facility was very modern for the day in all respects, especially the preparation room. But, as in many funeral homes, remodeling, additions and upgrading had been done everywhere except one–the oft neglected preparation room.
When owner and President Larry T. Omps was planning his latest expansion, the discussion came up of upgrading the preparation room in conjunction with other planned improvements.
Mr. Omps and staff members went to work researching dif- ferent products necessary but were lacking a cohesive design plan needed to have a state-of-the-art embalming room. “If we are going to do this,” Mr. Omps said, “we’re going to do it first class, just like the rest of the building.”
That’s when he contacted Duncan Stuart Todd, Ltd. for assistance. To get the ball rolling, a drawing of the preparation room and plumbing were faxed to DST, Ltd. for their recommendations. The Todds presented a CAD drawing of the upgrades and additions for the new room, including a detailed list of all items needed, from water control units to a new PrepAir system.
Acting as general contractor for his expansion project, Mr. Omps evaluated what could be done or purchased locally. His decision was to purchase the necessary preparation room products from DST, Ltd. and employ local trades- men to do the installations.
After receiving the prep room equipment, the remodeling began. Existing cabinets were removed and framing began for the ventilation ducts. The same electrical and plumbing contractors were involved not only in the preparation room, but also the remodeling/expansion of the crematory and garage areas. This cross action was a major asset in that teams could alternate projects as the various areas became ready, making for less down time. A new epoxy/quartz floor was put down in the embalming room, the new removal car bay and the new crematory area.
The PrepAir system was chosen to handle the requirements for safe air in the preparation room. Its ability to heat, cool, ventilate and remove fumes and odors while maintaining a comfortable room temperature was a major consideration. A stand alone unit, PrepAir also pre- vents contaminated air from invading the other areas of the facility.
New cabinets were installed with cut outs for two embalming stations and a sink between the embalming machines. A second sink along with a drench hose is located next to the embalmer’s desk for general use. Also installed was a new electric body lift on a U-shaped track.
Photographs demonstrate that the new preparation room is not only aesthetic, but is truly a state-of-the- art area where embalmers are proud to work, secure in knowing that every precaution has been taken for their safety.
The Omps family has served this Virginia community of more than 125,000 residents since 1936 when Voyne B. Omps purchased the funeral business of William Parlett. Larry T. Omps purchased the business from his father in 1978. He is joined in the operation by his wife, Nancy S. Omps, plus a full time staff of eight and 15 part-time as- sistants.
In August of 2000, a second facility was opened on route 522 South, adjacent to Shenandoah Memorial Park. It serves to comple- ment the operation of the Amherst Chapel, offering residents easy access to an Omps Funeral Home loca- tion.
The Omps family believes in giving back to the community in volunteer and spon- sorships, and in the facilities they provide. Constant care, updating and renovations are of the utmost importance. Along with the preparation room remodeling, a new drive-through garage was added. The former drive-through garage was sectioned off into a removal car bay, a hallway to the new garage, a cremation viewing room and a crematory room with walk in cooler. The viewing room was added to provide the growing cremation consumer population with a room to be used for viewing, services, and a window for those who wish to watch the cremation take place. It even has a re- mote switch for those who wish to start the ceremony.
Active in civic affairs, Larry Omps is the former mayor of Winchester, serving eight years in that capacity and four years as city councilman. He also sits on the Shenandoah University board of trustees, the board of Shenandoah Valley National Bank, and is former national vice-president of the Exchange Club. He is the current president of the Independent Funeral Homes of Virginia. The staff additionally has been active in civic, school and church groups. A recent community sponsorship was the local Soapbox Derby.