History & Staff

We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.

Our History

Our History

Hughes Funeral Home - 1940 (Prior to becoming Reins-Sturdivant)

Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home of Newland, North Carolina was founded as Hughes Funeral Home in the early 1900's by Ronald Hughes. Hughes Funeral Home served Avery County for several years providing funeral service and ambulance service. 

Mr. Hughes sold the firm in 1946 to J.C Reins and William "Bill" Sturdivant based in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina and the name was changed to Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home.

The Reins-Sturdivant organization was a pioneer in the multi-location funeral home business, having five locations in both North Carolina and Virginia. (At one time, Reins-Sturdivant had funeral homes in West Jefferson, Sparta, Newland, and North Wilkesboro in North Carolina, and in Independence, Virginia.) William "Bill" Laughridge was named manager of the Newland location in 1948.

Reins-Sturdivant - 1960

In the early 1950's, William "Bill" Laughridge purchased the business from the Reins-Sturdivant group. Mr. Laughridge continued to provide ambulance service and funeral service at the same location for many years. In 1967 the Avery County Rescue Squad was founded and thus ended the ambulance service provided by Reins-Sturdivant. In 1971, a major expansion project resulted in the addition of an air-conditioned chapel/stateroom combination. The new addition was built adjoining the original building on a vacant lot owned by Mr. Laughridge. The new chapel could be divided into two separated rooms for the convenience of the families and to allow the firm to offer two separate visitation areas at one time. Later, a new front lobby was built at the front of the building.  Ronald Benfield, who retired from public service after many terms as the Register of Deeds in Avery County, served as a Funeral Director and Embalmer with Mr. Laughridge for many years.  Ronald served in the Mortuary Division of the US Armed Forces during Vietnam.  Roger Church joined the firm as a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer in 1972.  He and his family moved to Bristol, VA in 1974 where he worked as a Funeral Director and Embalmer, before returning to Avery County in 1979.

Reins-Sturdivant - 1980

In 1982, after 34 years of serving the families in Avery County, Mr. Laughridge sold the firm to Roger Church, James Beckman, and Hoyle Gunter. In 1983, the building was completely renovated with new furnishings and carpet. The chapel was enlarged to offer more space during visitations and funerals. 

In 1986, Reins-Sturdivant joined with Tetrick Funeral Home in Elizabethton, TN with Roger Church remaining as Manager.  In early 1988 Richard Tetrick began the process of looking for a new home for Reins-Sturdivant. An excellent location on Ash Street in Newland became available and plans started to take shape for a new modern facility for the people of Avery County.  In December 1988, Garrick Smith joined the firm on a part time basis, assisting with funerals, visitations, and anywhere he could help in the funeral home.

In 1989, a new building was built on Ash Street in Newland, less than two blocks from the original location. The new building offered more room for visitations and a separate chapel.

Reins-Sturdivant - 2012

One of the most needed features of our current location is the parking. When the business was located on Main Street, it was allocated only six parking spaces by the town. The new location has more than 90 parking spaces. Also available is the parking lot of the shopping center next door.  

Our Grandfather Chapel has seating for 180 people and is adjacent to our Family Room, where families gather with their friends and relatives to share stories and memories.  We can also use this room for additional seating.

We also offer our Legacy Room, a smaller informal area for those that prefer a more intimate space for either a gathering of family and friends, a funeral or celebration of life. 

After serving as a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer for almost 10 years, Garrick was promoted to Co-Manager, and served along side Roger until October 2010, when Roger decided to retire after serving Avery County for a total of 30 years.

Garrick now serves as the Location Manager and Senior Funeral Director.  He along with Bryan Winslow, a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer who joined the firm in January 2016, strive to continue the tradition of care and service established so many years ago.

We invite you to come by and meet our staff and visit our facility and let us show you how we can assist you in arranging a fitting tribute.  

We are currently in the process of adding a Veterans Memorial to our Legacy Room.  We are gathering the Military information for every Veteran we have had the Honor and Privilege of serving since 1946.  We will be working with the members of the Pat Ray Post of the VFW to insure the accuracy of the information and will be dedicating the memorial the week of Memorial Day 2018.

Even though the way we remember a life lost and our loved ones is changing, the basic need to grieve is still there.  We strive to take as much of the burden off of our families as we can, and to help them develop a fitting tribute to their loved one that will provide comfort and healing for years to come.   We strive to ensure that every life is remembered with honor, integrity, and above all dignity.  

"We focus on the details, so you can focus on family."

Our Valued Staff

  • Garrick  Smith

    Garrick Smith Funeral Service Licensee and Location Manager

    Garrick is a native of Avery County and has been with Reins-Sturdivant since 1988. 2018 will mark his 30th year serving his friends and family in Avery County. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Lees-McRae College, and graduated from Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service in Atlanta in 1994. He is married to Carol Jones Smith and they reside in Banner Elk. He has two step children, Tyne Franklin and Tyler Phillips, three granddaughters, Irelyn Grace, Addison Faith, and Ayleigh Hope, and a grandson, Jase. He attends Heaton Christian Church. Garrick is an Eagle Scout and is currently serving the Banner Elk Scout Troop as Committee Chairman. He served as a member of the Executive Board of the Daniel Boone Council of the Boy Scouts of America and was appointed Chairman of Boy Scouting for Western North Carolina in 2005. Garrick currently serves as Chairman of the Council Awards Selection Committee. He is a Vigil Honor Member of Tsali Lodge #134 of the Order of the Arrow, and was honored with the Founders Award in 2009. He previously served on the Board of Directors for the High Country Care Givers Foundation.
    He enjoys traveling and is an avid collector of model trains.
    "God has certainly blessed me. Being able to do what I know He wants me to do and be of service to my fellow Avery family is truly a blessing. My primary goal while serving any family, is that they realize that we strive to treat them, not only like one of our own, but like they are the only family are serving."
    Garrick may be contacted anytime at garrick@rsfh.net

  • Bryan Winslow

    Bryan Winslow Funeral Service Licensee

    Bryan is a native of Rutherford County North Carolina and joined us in 2016. Bryan brings s sense of commitment to our motto "We focus on the details so you can focus on your family." He serves each family as he would want to be served. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from North Carolina State University. Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree he attended Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science graduating in 2014. He is a member of Florence Baptist Church and attends Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Banner Elk. He is a sports fanatic, and enjoys bowling and snow skiing.
    Bryan can be reached anytime at bryan@rsfh.net

  • Donna Garland

    Donna Garland Administrative Assistant

    Donna was born and raised in Michigan. She moved to Kingsport Tennessee in 1976 after her parents retired. She has been a resident of Avery County for 25 years. She is married to Bob Garland and they reside in Elk Park. She attends Heaton Christian Church. They have two sons Jason Stewart, John Stewart and two grandsons Landon and Bryce. Donna's passions other than her family are photography and flower gardening. Donna began working with us in March 2017.

  • Doyle Shomaker

    Doyle Shomaker Funeral Associate

    Doyle retired as the Banner Elk, North Carolina Postmaster and has been associated with the firm since 1993. September 2017 started Doyle's 25th year serving his friends in Avery County. He is a graduate of Lees-McRae college where he still holds the record for the most punts blocked in a game. Doyle and his wife Barbara are members of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Banner Elk. They have three children, Eric, Lisa, David and five grandchildren, Preston, Calvin, Spencer, Karoline and Harrison. He enjoys golfing and gardening. He volunteers each year with the Hebron Colony in Boone, leading them in growing their vegetable garden. Doyle is well known with our families due to his calming presence and demeanor.

  • Walter Johnson

    Walter Johnson Advanced Funeral Planning Counselor

    Since the age of 17, Walter F. Johnson has been in and around the Funeral Service Industry, and is a second-generation employee of Heritage Family Funeral Service. He served his apprenticeship at Hampton Funeral Service in Boone, North Carolina, where he also worked for seven years. Walter is a 2015 graduate of Fayetteville Technical Community College with a degree in funeral service. He is also a licensed pre-need counselor in North Carolina. Walter is married to Pam (Cornett) Johnson. They have two children, Zack and Kaylee, and they live in Zionville, North Carolina. They are active members of Willow Valley Baptist Church (Watauga County), where Walter serves as a deacon and in other leadership roles.

  • Jim Ollis

    Jim Ollis Funeral Assistant

    Jim is a native and life long resident of Avery County. He is married to Judi, and has six children, Jimmy (Buzz), Cindy, Cammy, Pam, Tina, and Brian. They have twelve grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
    He is a member of the Pisgah United Methodist Church and a retired truck driver.
    In his spare time, Jim enjoys fishing and old cars.
    He joined our staff in 2014 and strives to take care of each and every need our families may have.

  • Steve Franklin

    Steve Franklin Funeral Assistant

    Steve Franklin, from Altamont, joined our firm in 2014. He is a native of Avery County and married to Nancy Franklin. Steve is retired and enjoys hunting. He and his wife are active members of the Crossnore First Baptist Church, where Steve serves as a Sunday School Teacher and member of the church choir.
    Steve's quiet demeanor provides comfort to the families we serve. He works to insure that each family receives all the help and comfort they need.

  • Jeremy S. Hughes

    Jeremy S. Hughes Funeral Assistant

    Jeremy Hughes of Newland joined our staff in 2013. He is a native of Avery County and a son of Jerry Hughes and Regina Trice. He owns and operate Rod's Seamless Gutter, a business he inherited from his step father, Rodney Trice. He is the father of three children.
    Jeremy enjoys being on his motorcycle in the woods and spending time with his family.