Families receive ashes from bankrupt Omaha funeral home

Families of lost loved ones are finally getting their ashes and urns and preneed from a bankrupt Benson funeral home.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 7:59 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Carrying closure for his mother, Dan Whited leaves Kremer Funeral Home with remains of her longtime partner.

The body of 78-year-old Billy Lorenz was brought to Kremer Funeral Home in early January for cremation, but owner Travis Sheffield didn’t provide ashes in a boxed urn until Monday morning.

“He just said that he dropped the ball, and you can’t drop the ball when it comes to a human,” Whited said. “It’s just not humane.”

A state investigation into how much Kremer handled cremation services appears to be very much alive. Two representatives from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services showed up and spent about an hour inside, but they wouldn’t comment, saying only that employees did go to the mortuary.

While some like Dan came here to pick up, as he describes, the long-overdue urn containing ashes of a loved one, others came with questions. What about the preneed prepaid policies they hold?

Holly Negrete paid about $3,000 to the funeral home for preneed cremation services covering three relatives, and the owner assured her the policies are transferrable.

“It’s a big relief if it gets transferred because then I don’t have to start all over,” Negrete said. “He said some of them might go with the same policy that I have, so I’m hoping.”

Nebraska Funeral Directors Association President Brian Roeder says five families have reached out to other mortuaries -- three of them have talked to him.

“If you have (a plan) with one funeral home and it’s in that insurance trust, it can move to whatever funeral home you choose,” Roeder said.

Sheffield declined comment on the matter, but one of his preneed customers is satisfied.

“He apologized and showed us where to go to another funeral home. Everything is fine.”

But Dan Whited says the frustration of waiting three months for Billy’s ashes can’t be covered over by a flag that Kremer provided for the veteran’s internment at Omaha National Cemetery.

Sheffield says he will keep the doors open until all families have their ashes or preneed policies. He wouldn’t say how many are left but told 6 On Your Side the mortuary is closed to new business. Our check of the DHHS website shows Kremer Funeral Home still has an active license.