Fundraiser aims to repay Warrens' generosity

Thursday, July 31, 2008 | 10:44 p.m. CDT; updated 12:22 a.m. CDT, Friday, August 1, 2008

COLUMBIA — Mary Ratliff met Harold Warren Sr. almost half a century ago. She can testify to many of his charitable acts of service throughout the black community as well as the entire city over the years.

"Mr. Warren has put out his soul and billfold in Columbia for far too long," Ratliff said. "He never turned anyone away."

Ratliff, the president of the Missouri NAACP and the organization's Columbia chapter, said Warren has helped everyone - baseball teams, the Boys and Girls Club of America, scholarship funds, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He has always been a resource for the community, she said.

"He's given to everything that's come along," Ratliff said.

But these unconditional acts of generosity might have contributed to financial problems for both Warren himself and the funeral home he directed until late February, when he handed the reins to his son, Harold Warren Jr.

Warren Sr. and Helen Warren filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in October 2006, and that case was closed in August 2007, according to PACER, the federal court database.

Financial problems at Warren Funeral Chapel had previously led Warren Jr. to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a month earlier, in September 2006. The case, which is still pending, lists 21 creditors, including casket manufacturers and government agencies. Also among the funeral home's creditors are Warren Jr. and Sr. themselves, according to PACER.

Harry Boul, who represented the Warrens in both cases, was unavailable for comment.

The Warrens and their funeral home have also been parties to dozens of suits in Boone County Circuit Court, including eight filed by the state Division of Employment Security since 1995, according to Missouri

Others who have previously sued the Warrens in the circuit court include Capital One Bank, Mid City Lumber Company and MFA Oil Company, according to Missouri

Court records show judgments in those cases have ranged from a little more than $150 to more than $4,000.

Last week, Attorney General Jay Nixon filed a lawsuit in Boone County Circuit Court asking the court to close the funeral home because inspectors found unsanitary conditions. According to the lawsuit, inspectors found a garbage bag containing organs from multiple bodies in a casket and the decayed, unembalmed body of a woman who had been stored at the funeral home since September 2007.

On July 30, Warren Funeral Chapel agreed to a temporary restraining order that effectively shuts the business' doors for 15 days.

While the suit has drawn negative attention to the Warrens, members of the black community have expressed their support of the man they feel has helped those in need in the past.

The local chapter of the NAACP will hold a fundraiser to benefit Warren Funeral Chapel at 4 p.m. Sunday at Second Baptist Church, Ratliff said.

She said several area choirs and soloists will perform at the event.

"Now that he is in trouble," Ratliff said, "we feel that the community ought to be there for him."


Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


marvin saunders August 1, 2008 | 4:19 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Jason Entermyer August 1, 2008 | 10:27 a.m.

Let's see if I understand this...let's support a business that lets bodies rot in the basement but do nothing for the poor family who was delibertly lied to by the owner and pacified with false remains? I have a question for Ms. Ratliff...will she use the Warren Funeral Home?

(Report Comment)
Duane Perry August 3, 2008 | 5:47 p.m.

To the families in this community that were affected by this travisty, you all have my sympathy. This was and is a horrific event that should have never occured. As a licensed funeral director in 3 states and being partially ignorant to the funeral service statutes of the great State of Missouri, there is somethings that must be said in defense of a family owned and operated funeral home. Because of the immaturity of this investigation, there are things that the community need to understand that have not come out just yet. I was not there and I dont know Mr. Warren, but I cannot fathom in my mind a noble firm that has served a community for 40 years, throwing their existance away like this. If Mr. Warren is the great man so many had told me of before I moved here, he probably would not release these remains because of due balances and it happened too many times and got out of hand. Now I would have handled this in a completely different manner and there is no excuse for the lies, but none of us have heard Mr. Warrens side and those that dont know the business need to wait and hear his side before they nail him to a cross. We as humans have been know to do some strange things when our back is to the wall. We need to let them complete their investigation and then.....base our opinions on the proper findings.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.