Our View: The Ompses: ‘shining lights’

Posted: January 28, 2013

When working at their best, a hospice organization and a funeral home share many characteristics — even if one tends to the details of life and the other to the realities of death.

It all comes down to one word: caring. Hospice attends to the physical and spiritual needs of the living — and those of their families — in their final hours. A funeral home, in many ways, takes over at the moment of death. Both callings are, indeed, special. Or should be.

But how might funeral homes be adjudged as to their level of “caring”? After all, they are businesses in a way hospice is not. One sure-fire indicator may be how they are viewed by the local hospice group — which brings us to the reason for this editorial.

Late last month, Blue Ridge Hospice honored Larry and Nancy Omps of Omps Funeral Home and Cremation Service with its “Shining Light” award. Proof positive of the couple’s low-key approach to community service is that neither was familiar with the award upon hearing they would receive it, and both were blown away by the acclaim heaped upon them when recognized at BRH’s board of directors meeting.

Mr. Omps expected he and his wife of 36 years would receive a certificate and an expression of thanks. What they got was a rather substantial glass statue and a standing ovation worthy, he said, of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Mrs. Omps said she was, at the same time, overwhelmed and humbled.

So why would a hospice honor a funeral home? Largely for its 30 years of dedicated, behind-the-scenes service. The Ompses have supported Blue Ridge Hospice since its inception in the early ’80s. Mr. Omps served on the hospice board for six years, providing — so says Linda Roberts, BRH’s community liaison — “guidance, forethought, and leadership.” And each year, for the past 15, the couple has donated money to Lights of Love in the memory of each person the funeral home served that year.

So, while the award came as a surprise to Larry and Nancy Omps, it did not to us. Like Blue Ridge Hospice, we, too, see them as “shining lights.”