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Memory Gardens leaves group

Memory Gardens Mortuary and Memorial Park is stepping out on its own -- sort of.

In an effort to distinguish itself form the corporate crowd, the Medford mortuary will no longer share operations with Conger-Morris and Hillcrest funeral homes.

Memory Gardens for years was known as a family firm, said manager David Cook. In order to bring more of that family feel, we've decided to break off from the cluster.

The three businesses will continue to be owned by Service Corporation International -- the nation's largest funeral home chain. When SCI bought Memory Gardens in 1987, it clustered the three businesses together to consolidate service, a common practice. For example, the body preparations for all three homes were done at Conger-Morris, Cook said.

Clustering has positives to it financially, but on the other end there are negatives, Cook said, adding that service can have too much of a corporate rather than personal feel to it.

SCI has learned that clustering doesn't work as well in some markets, he said. This is a small enough town that it just hasn't had the positive effect that it has in some areas.

Starting Jan. 11, Memory Gardens will do all of its own pickups and body preparation.