Your end-of-life and death care questions will be answered here. Embalmer & post-mortem reconstruction specialist Vernie Fountain has been in the funeral industry since he took a part time job at a funeral home during high school in the 1960s. After serving at the USMC during the Vietnam War, Fountain completed mortuary school and opened his own business. Never content to hurry the funeral process with a closed-casket service, Fountain developed specialized techniques to make the deceased viewable -- giving an added degree of closure to families who have only one chance to say goodbye to a loved one. For two decades, embalmers the world over have traveled to the U.S. to learn his techniques.
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What to Expect
I am happy to tailor my presentation to meet audience interest. From a discussion of the biological end-of-life process to the choices for disposition of the body I will be happy to explain in detail how these processes occur and answer audience questions on such topics as embalming, cremation, visitation, burial and funeral traditions/trends. I will provide anything from a speech to a Powerpoint presentation depending on your needs. Audiences are often moved by a discussion surrounding the importance of saying goodbye to a loved one. I am happy to share stories of families who have trusted me to devote the extra time and expertise necessary to give them one last chance to view and bid farewell to a family member.
In terms of mass fatality disaster management, I am happy to address my history with DMORT, the Federal Disaster Mortuary Response Team, as well as my role with the Missouri Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association Disaster Response Team. I can share first-hand account of my deployments to cemetery floods, plane crashes and other mass fatality incidents.
Vernie Fountain has been associated with funeral service since 1965. As a graduate of the Kentucky School of Mortuary Science, Fountain became licensed as a funeral director in 1972 and an embalmer in 1977. For eighteen years, until December 1995, he owned and operated Fountain Mortuary Service in Columbia, Missouri, which responded to over 1,000 deaths annually. He also served as Chief Death Investigator for the Boone County, Missouri Medical Examiner’s Office, and as Investigator for the Callaway County office. During his tenure he also served as forensic autopsy assistant and cranial autopsy instructor. Outside of the ME’s office, Fountain served as an adjunct instructor for the Missouri Major Case Crime Squad training for law enforcement at the University of Missouri. He currently owns and operates Fountain Embalming Services, Fountain National Academy of Professional Embalming Skills and Forensic Investigative Resources of the Midwest (F.I.R.M.) a licensed and insured private detective agency that has a main focus of death investigations and exhumations. All are headquartered in Springfield, Missouri.
Fountain National Academy focuses on teaching highly specialized embalming and postmortem reconstructive surgery techniques specifically designed for highly traumatized cases. His goal is to provide families with closure, via the ability to view their loved ones prior to burial or other disposition. Professional embalmers from across the United States and several countries have attended his courses in an effort to learn his technique. He is often called on by attorneys to serve as a consultant and expert witness in civil lawsuits involving embalming and reconstruction, and has been interviewed by national and worldwide media outlets concerning high profile celebrity deaths.
An advocate of organ & tissue donations, Fountain has also worked as a liaison/consultant with various organ and tissue agencies across the United States.
In 1995 Fountain assisted Dr. James Starrs of George Washigton University in the exhumation of the body of Missouri Outlaw Jesse James who was shot and killed on April 3, 1882 in St. Joseph, Missouri. In 2003 he served as embalming consultant for Engel Brothers Media Inc. that produces the National Geographic TV documentary “Mummy Road Show.” Fountain has also served as a news source regarding celebrity deaths and other high-profile cases.
In December 2011 Fountain was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to serve on the Dover Port Mortuary Independent Review Subcommittee. The 9-member committee was chaired by Retired General John Abizaid, former Commanding General of U.S. Armed Forces Central Command. Fountain served as a subject matter expert regarding Mortuary Affairs in the area of embalming and reconstructive surgery. He served along with two other embalming experts and six other members with expertise in various disciplines. The committee’s efforts culminated in a final report and testimony before the Defense Health Board. The final report containing twenty recommendations was delivered to the Secretary of Defense in February 2012.
Fountain is a proud United States Marine, having served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War He is a Purple Heart recipient for wounds received by enemy fire in Vietnam on May 9, 1970.
Fountain, his wife and two children currently reside in Springfield, Missouri. He also has two adult stepchildren. In his spare time Fountain serves as a licensed auctioneer for regional charity events.
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