FIGHT TO THE DEATH

A BATTLE BETWEEN RIVAL FUNERAL-HOME DYNASTIES PUTS THE SPOTLIGHT ON A VAST BUT QUIET TRANSFORMATION IN THE WAY WE BURY OUR DEAD

Death and taxes aside, two things were long a certainty on the gulf coast of Mississippi: if you died in Biloxi, you would be buried by Jeremiah O'Keefe; if you died in adjacent Gulfport, Bob Riemann would do the honors. A sometimes bitter rivalry existed between their families, but both names remained beacons in the fog of surprise and grief that overcame people upon the death of parents, spouses, siblings and children. Then something happened to Riemann's empire. His mortuaries still bore the name Riemann, and his sons Mike and David still managed the business. Hearses came and went trailing the...

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