Vintage coffin maker thinks inside the box

Spirit of the Bluegrass

Roy “Bud” Davis wants to put fun in funerals.

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MURRAY, KENTUCKY (WDKY-TV)– Roy Davis spends a lot of time in his garage, rounding off the edges of his art pieces. He’s not upset that his art may end up buried.

“No,” he said. “I guess probably 99 percent of the art I’ve made has ended up in the ground somewhere.”

About 25 years ago, Roy, whose nickname is “Bud,” started a business with a friend,  calling it “Bert and Bud’s Vintage Coffins.”

“It was more or less as a joke. We thought it would be really funny to do it. And son of a gun, people started calling.”

They started with the classic toe-pinchers, wooden boxes that are wide at the elbow and narrow at the feet.

But soon, because of their background in art, they got custom orders.

Davis has made coffins that look like a steamboat and a dollhouse, even a Christmas-themed one for a man who played Santa Claus.

“People are crazy, I guess, which I like. I’m crazy myself.”

His friend, Bert Sperath, retired and moved away, but Davis found the hobby/business too much fun to give up. A basic pine box sells for about $600. Custom designs may go for $2,500.

He also makes interesting urns.  Currently, Davis is working on one for a man who wants his ashes housed in a bourbon bottle.

Inside his house, you really see how coffins have become his dying art.  He displays miniature memorial coffins. One is in memory of his grandfather, who was beaten to death at a baseball game.  Open the lid and see a bat. A grandmother committed suicide.  Her memorial coffin includes a handkerchief, representing the way she killed herself by inhaling chloroform. 

A coffin in honor of his mother resembles a medicine cabinet, filled with pill bottles.

“She had a lot of heath issues,” Davis explained.

He  doesn’t see the pieces as gruesome,  rather just as a way of keeping memories alive. 

“I just think they’re really interesting stories.” He said every family has some dramatic deaths in their history.

He even has his own coffin, ready to go, adorned with a torch he made in woodworking class.

“Which I’m hoping I don’t see any flames when I go.”

But he hopes not to go anytime soon. He’s too busy helping other people go out in style.

“I’ll pretty much give anything a try.”

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