Vernie R. Fountain

"Think it Through"

Vernie Fountain, CFSP (Certified Funeral Service Practioner) Embalmer & Post Mortem Reconstructive Surgery Specialist, Funeral Director, Private Investigator, Auctioneer

Internationally known speaker and instructor 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 as an embalmer in 1977.  For eighteen years, until December 1995, he owned and operated Fountain Mortuary Service in Columbia, Missouri, which responded to over one-thousand deaths annually and had five divisions: Embalming and Transportation, Forensic and Clinical Autopsy/Investigation, Cemetery (Exhumations & Grave openings), Embalming Consulting and Fountain National Academy of Professional Embalming Skills.

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 of Professional Embalming Skills, which was founded in May 1990, is a full-time venture for Fountain as the Academy's founder and primary instructor.  As a well-known speaker he travels throughout the United States and abroad speaking at State and National Funeral Directors and Embalmers conventions teaching post-graduate education to embalmers.  His focus is on teaching highly specialized embalming and postmortem reconstructive surgery techniques that can be performed on the most massively traumatized case imaginable.  FNA is dedicated to providing quality post-graduate embalmer education and the research and development of new techniques to treat the highly traumatized case with the goal of an open-casket viewing.  Fountain National Academy offers several in-depth embalming and postmortem reconstructive surgery seminars at its training facility located in Springfield, Missouri.  Professional embalmers from across the United States, England, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Korea, Grenada, Seychelles, Germany, France, Belgium, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Switzerland, Australia, South America, India, Nigeria, French West Indies, Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Japan and the Philippines have attended these seminars.  The Academy has a European representative in Ireland and an Australian representative located in Australia.

In 1983 Fountain received training on the handling of radiation accident fatalities, and as Multi-Death Disaster Coordinator by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Emmitsburg, Maryland and the National Funeral Directors Association.  For over 30 years he has conducted numerous training seminars regarding Mass Fatality Disaster Management in Missouri and throughout the United States, and has shared the instructor role with the FBI Disaster Squad personnel and other forensic disaster experts, training numerous funeral directors, embalmers and other related disciplines regarding mass fatality disaster response.

Fountain served for several years, until 1996, as the Regional Team Commander for the (DMORT) Federal Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team - Region 7 that is part of the National Disaster Medical System.  In 1986 he was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from then Missouri Governor John Ashcroft for his efforts in Missouri statewide Emergency Management and Multiple Death Disaster Preparedness.   In 1994 he was presented an Outstanding Service Award from Admiral Frank Young MD Director of the National Disaster Medical System for his service as lead coordinator in the Hardin, Missouri cemetery flood disaster in 1993 when approximately 769 gravesites were washed away in the flood waters and for his response as a member of the Federal Mortuary Technical Assistance Team to the Albany Georgia Cemetery Complex flood of 1994 when over 400 gravesites were washed away in the flood waters.   In 1993 Fountain received the coveted Law Enforcement Commendation Medal presented by the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.  In 1997 he was appointed by the National Disaster Medical System as the DMORT National Training Officer and served in that position until his resignation on July 1, 2000.  In September 2000 Fountain accepted a position with Global-BMS, a disaster recovery organization, as National Team Coordinator for its United States Disaster Recovery Team. During his involvement with Global–BMS he met with the New York Medical Examiner and his staff to explain the process he developed to care for and preserve for perpetuity the 18,000-20,000 unidentified body and tissue specimens that remained in the custody of the Medical Examiner’s office following the 911 World Trade center attack. In November 2005 he resigned his position with Global/BMS to pursue other business interests.  He has written numerous mass fatality disaster Standard Operational Plans, Team Commander Manuals, Team Member Handbooks and Protocols for preparation and repatriation of human remains related to Mortuary Disaster Response.  Mr. John Reed, President of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), President M. Bill Wappner, President Patrick Lynch and President Randall L. Earl appointed Fountain as the Leader of the NFDA Disaster Preparedness Task Force for the years 2008-2012.

Fountain has presented programs in England, Australia, Puerto Rico, Philippines, China, South America, Canada, and Denmark and across the U.S.  In addition to presenting programs at state and national funeral directors’ conventions, he has presented programs at funeral homes, mortuary schools, Coroner/Medical Examiner meetings, National Association of Emergency Planners Convention and Missouri State Emergency Management Agency. He spoke at a National Disaster Medical System Convention at the request of the Centers for Disease Control. He has also presented at hospitals, civic organizations, high school and university classes.

An advocate of organ & tissue donations, Fountain has worked as a liaison/consultant with various organ and tissue agencies across the US and conducts embalming seminars for the professional embalmer that deal with embalming and reconstructive surgery techniques following the donation process.

He is former Chief Death Investigator for the Boone County Medical Examiner's Office and Investigator for the Callaway County, Missouri Medical Examiner's Office, and served for several years as a forensic autopsy assistant and cranial autopsy instructor. The Medical Examiner’s Office in Columbia, Missouri provided autopsy services for approximately 43 counties in Missouri. Fountain also assisted as an adjunct instructor in Missouri Major Case Crime Squad training for law enforcement investigators that was conducted by the University of Missouri and his facility Fountain Mortuary Service in Columbia, Missouri. In addition to medical examiner autopsies and investigations Fountain’s facility and staff worked with a group of sixteen clinical pathologist providing autopsy services for many community hospitals.

Fountain has successfully completed the prestigious Master's Course in Forensic Death Investigation at St. Louis University.  He has attended several other courses in forensic death investigation including one on the reconstruction of facial features presented by world-renowned expert Betty Pat Gatliff at the University of South Alabama Institute for Environmental and Forensic Sciences.  Fountain has also received death investigation training at the New York City Medical Examiner's Office.

Attorneys from across the U.S. have called him to serve as a consultant and expert witness in civil law suits in the areas of embalming and reconstructive surgery.

As a professional embalmer specializing in difficult and traumatized case, he has been called upon to perform embalming and/or Post Mortem Reconstructive surgery on some of the most severely traumatize cases imaginable to achieve open casket viewing. He has performed reconstructive surgery on cases across the United States as well as in Australia and South America.

Embalmers from across the U.S. and abroad frequently contact Fountain for consultation and guidance regarding severely difficult or highly traumatized embalming cases.

Fountain is a very active member of the Missouri Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association and served for many years as Chairman of its Mass Fatality Disaster Emergency Response Committee and Chairman of its Organ and Tissue Committee.  He is past secretary and president of the Missouri Funeral Supply Sales Club.  In 2007 the Missouri Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association awarded him the Robert Knell award. The award is the highest award that can be granted by that Association. He is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), and a former member of the now defunct Funeral Ethics Association and the defunct American Society of Embalmers. He is a member of the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice.  A former member of the National Association of Medical Examiners (N.A.M.E.), American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), the British Institute of Embalmers (Circa 1986-87) (BIE) and past board member of the defunct Associated Funeral Directors International.  He is also a member of the Pi Sigma Eta Mortuary Fraternity.

During his seventeen-years of owning and operating a grave opening service Fountain was called upon numerous times to exhume human remains which gained him a vast knowledge regarding exhumations. In 1995 Fountain, as a member of the exhumation team, assisted Dr. James Starrs, Professor at George Washington University, with the exhumation of the body of the famous 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 TV documentary “Mummy Road Show” which aired on the National Geographic television channel November 24, 2003.  He was interviewed by a production company that produces shows for National Geographic regarding a documentary of the Hardin Cemetery Disaster that occurred in 1993. This documentary can be viewed on PRIME Video Title: Buried Secrets (2005) + Hardin Cemetery Disaster. Additionally, a British film crew has visited his facility to film filmed a TV segment regarding his expertise in the area of Post Mortem Reconstructive Surgery.  Mr. Fountain has been interviewed by various media sources related to current affairs. He has been interviewed and questioned by numerous media sources about some very high-profile cases including celebrity and governmental leader deaths in the United States, and abroad.

In addition to his other work, he attended an accredited educational training school and became a licensed Auctioneer in Missouri in 2009. He currently dedicates his auctioneering skills toward fund raising efforts for charity organizations.

In August of 2010 Fountain produced and sponsored FNA’s first Biennial International Embalming & Reconstructive Surgery Conference for Professional Embalmers. Along with Fountain’s presentations 11 other top-notch speakers from the US and abroad did technical presentations. The Conference was dedicated to the values of open casket viewing and was held in Springfield, Missouri. The conference had 10 countries and 25 states in attendance.  The Conference is still continuing every other year with the exception of the 2020 International Conference was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and rescheduled for 2022.

In December 2011 Fountain was appointed by the United States Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, to serve on the Dover Port Mortuary Independent Review Subcommittee.  The nine-member committee was chaired by Retired General John Abizaid who was former Commanding General of US 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 review and meetings 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 currently has his signature series “Vernie R. Fountain” line of several reconstructive products manufactured by Post Mortem Restorative Cosmetics (PMRC). These products can be viewed at  He and FNA European Representative, Glyn Tallon, have worked closely with two-time Emmy award winner, and Hollywood Special Effects and Makeup Artist Dean Jones to develop these products.  PMRC products are also available through the Pierce Chemical Company.  In 2018 Fountain added his name to the very unique Coasson coach line which will carry his signature on each unit. The brand-new creation of Coasson debut first at the 2018 National Funeral Directors Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.  For additional pictures and information about the Coasson visit (

He and his wife Joy currently reside in Springfield, Missouri.  He has three daughters Audrey, Ellen, and Kim and one son Mark.

Fountain is a proud United States Marine. He served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and is a member of Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the American Legion and the Marine Corps League. He is a Purple Heart recipient for wounds received by enemy fire in Vietnam on May 9, 1970.  Following a thirteen-month stay in a military hospital was medically retired from the Marine Corps.