Saturday, June 15, 2024

Mortician Who Had License Revoked Appears as Funeral Director at Aretha Franklin’s Homegoing Service

*Last year, O’Neil Swanson, owner of Swanson Funeral Home in Detroit and Pontiac, reportedly denounced the son who followed in his footsteps after he had his mortuary license revoked by the state following reports of “shocking” treatment of the corpses in his care at the Swanson Funeral Home in Flint.

At the time, the senior Swanson told in a statement that his facility has “no legal or business connection” to his son, O’Neil Swanson IIsaying “the allegations the state has made against the Flint home are shocking and go against every principle of mortuary science.”

According to, decomposing bodies in a maggot-infested garage, bloodstained casket pillows, and complaints about employees working on bodies without protective gear were just a few of the allegations that prompted state investigators to shut down Swanson Funeral Home in Flint last year.

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Despite statements distancing himself from his son, both father and son were front and center at Aretha Franklin’s funeral.


The Detroit-based Swanson’s Funeral Home provided the classic Cadillac LaSalle hearse that carried the Queen of Soul to her final resting place. At the funeral, Swanson II is seen on camera handing out memorial cards, and he wore a gold name badge as he pulled the casket from the church to the waiting hearse.

O’Neil Swanson II gave interviews to CNN, Entertainment Tonight, even to 7 Action News.

“I’m just proud to be a part of providing a ceremonial tribute like this one,” he told 7 Action News during an interview.

Even though Swanson II had his mortuary license revoked in April — which means he cannot work as a Funeral Director — he’s still calling himself that during interviews. 

Investigator Heather Catallo caught up with Swanson and his lawyer following a hearing on felony charges for failing to fulfill funeral contracts.

“Is he working as a Funeral Director,” Catallo asked Swanson’s attorney Colin Daniels.

“We’re not going to answer any questions,” said Daniels.

“His license has been revoked and he’s introducing himself as a funeral director at Aretha Franklin’s funeral. So is he working as a funeral director,” asked Catallo.

“We’re not going to answer any questions at this point,” said Daniels.

“What would you say to those families who don’t think they got their own loved ones’ bodies back,” Catallo asked Swanson.

He declined to answer.

In addition to revoking his mortuary license, the state fined Swanson $34,100. There are also 54 sets of open complaints against Swanson II.

Bob Berg, a spokesman for O’Neil Swanson and Swanson Funeral Home, Inc., sent this statement to the 7 Investigators regarding the Swanson presence at Franklin’s funeral:

The families of The Rev. C. L. Franklin and the elder O’Neil D. Swanson have a close friendship that goes back many decades.  As a result, a number of members of the Swanson family, who are not involved with the Swanson Funeral Home business, were in attendance at the activities related to the celebration of Aretha Franklin’s life.

It was as a long-time family friend of the Franklin family that O’Neil Swanson II was present at those activities including Miss Franklin’s funeral.  However, he was not there on behalf of the Swanson Funeral Home, Inc. He plays no role in the operation and management of Swanson Funeral Home (and has not for many years) and he had no official responsibilities or role in the celebration of Miss Franklin’s life.  

We understand that O’Neil Swanson II was approached by the media during the Franklin activities.  To the extent any statements made by him to the media created any erroneous impressions about his relationship to Swanson Funeral Home Inc., we regret that.

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