Helping Families, Honoring Departed Loved Ones: A Business Conversation with Larry Davis of Palms Mortuary
by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud
In 1926, Palm Mortuary began operating at First Street and Carson Avenue in downtown Las Vegas, near the current location of the Golden Nugget hotel. Legend has it that its original owners, Gene and Anna Parks, derived its name from a palm tree that stood on the site when they bought the land. In 1946, Jerry Woodbury and Don Devoe acquired the business and relocated its headquarters to its current location at 1325 N. Main St. Palm Mortuary general manager Larry Davis recently sat down with Black Image for a conversation about its operations and the development of its new Garden of Dreams Plaza, which pays tribute to the civil rights movement.
What does Palm Mortuary specialize in?
We specialize in funeral services and memorial services. We have a crematory for cremations and we do burials. We also ship remains when a deceased person is to be buried outside of Las Vegas.
Are there any insurance services that Palm Mortuary offers to its clients?
Anyone would tell you that estate planning has two parts of it. The funeral part includes funeral services and casket, and these are written into the insurance policy for the cost of the funeral services. We establish an insurance policy to ensure the payment of services. There are 1,800 to 2,000 funeral homes affiliated with Dignity Memorial, which Palm Mortuary is affiliated with. If someone dies in another state, we can transfer the policy to any state that where a Dignity Memorial (affiliate) is located, so services can be rendered. We do require that the account is paid in full before services, and before placement is made for a funeral or cremation. We do find that families have some sort of financial means to pay for services, whether it is cash on hand, credit cards or insurance policies. Obviously, we have always and will continue to work with those families to serve them and help them through a difficult time.
What is your new Garden of Dreams development?
About a year-and-a-half ago, we started to have conversations about developing a garden and it needed to have relative substance. We wanted it to be something that the community could be a part of, and recognize its importance. What evolved was a burial and cremation garden, and also an education garden that gives back to the community. We came up with the concept of the civil rights movement, which would be memorialized as the educational component in the Garden of Dreams. It is an educational garden, because when you enter the plaza, we will have a very large granite torch that represents the struggles we have all encountered, and the civil rights movement that worked to ensure equal justice and treatment for all people. The bottom of the torch is rough, symbolizing the struggles of discrimination; and as you look up, the torch is smooth, reflective of the civil rights that were won. But we need to remember that there is still a lot we have to do for justice, for all people, even today. Cast in multicolored granite, the flame at the top of the torch represents all people who have benefited from the movement, and reminds us to keep working together to improve the human condition. There will be 14 stars on the floor of the Garden of Dreams plaza, representing the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Each year, we will have a ceremony dedicating a star to someone — living or who has passed away — who has been instrumental in the civil rights movement. There will be four towers and niches that will be engraved with historical moments during the civil rights era. The civil rights moment will recognize both national historic events and civil rights events in Las Vegas that played a role in shaping the nation. We are also very excited that the $800 million — funded entirely by Palm Mortuary — Garden of Dreams project will institute a scholarship program, giving financial assistance to students who want to achieve their higher education in Nevada. The construction has just gotten under way, and we are planning a grand opening and ribbon cutting upon completion.
For more information, go to www.palmgardenofdreams.com.