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 32 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, FM Transmission and webcasting capabilities for services held there 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 returned as the Location Manager in March of 2020, after a brief retirement, continuing his 33 years of serving Avery County.  He is joined by Brandy Hampton, a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer.  Together with the rest of the staff, Donna, Michael, Sheri, Marcus and Ronnie, they pledge dignity and honor to each family served.

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.  

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

  • Donna Garland

    Donna Garland

  • Johanna Johnson

    Johanna Johnson

  • Brandy P. Hampton

    Brandy P. Hampton

  • Michael Hendricks

    Michael Hendricks

  • Sheri Cornett

    Sheri Cornett

  • Rev. Marcus R Benfield

    Rev. Marcus R Benfield

  • Rev. Ronnie Pyatte

    Rev. Ronnie Pyatte