Corinth man invents 'speaking obituary'

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – The founders of ELK Industries want to help you keep your loved one’s memory alive a little longer.
The Corinth-based company invented a solar-powered device that plays up to eight minutes of a recording. The product, called Spoken Memories, is being marketed as a “speaking obituary.”
Russell Elam’s son came up with the idea.
“He was working at a perpetual care cemetery and was working at night,” said Elam, who has worked in electronics all his life.
His son thought it would be a good idea if the grave markers had nightlights and something that spoke about the people who were buried.
Elam came up with the technology, and it took him seven years to get it patented. He took on two investors to help provide capital. The name “ELK Industries” represents the three partners: Elam, Steve Little and John Knight.
The group is starting small. They operate out of a space behind Elam’s home in Corinth. They are focusing on marketing their product to funeral homes.
“It pretty well sells itself,” Elam said. “The customer sees it, and they want their family to be remembered.”
In addition to recording obituaries, the men said the product can be used for people who make their funeral arrangements before they die.
“Before you are deceased, you can say something to your grandchildren,” Knight said.
Or, Elam added, they can sing their favorite hymn.
“They can put anything,” Elam said.
The product is made of bronze. It’s only available through funeral homes. Suggested retail price is $495, but the price can vary, depending on the funeral home.
Spoken Memories currently is available at Lee Memorial Funeral Home in Verona, Corinth Monument Co., Memorial Funeral Home in Corinth, Waters Funeral Home in Baldwyn and Shackelford Funeral Directors in Tennessee.
“We’re just kind of getting started,” Elam said. “We’re researching one that can talk for hours. When you start something like this, you wonder if people really want it. … But we get phone calls.”
carlie.kollath@journalinc.com