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 Funeral Service Licensee, Vice-President, and Location Manager

    Garrick is a native of Avery County and has been with Reins-Sturdivant since 1988. 2021 marked his 33rd 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 the son of Linda Buchanan Mills of Newland and the late T.E. Smith of Banner Elk. Garrick 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 from 2005 until 2010. Garrick served as Chairman of the Council Awards Selection Committee for over 10 years. 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 and is serving the lodge as Adviser to the Cook Team. He previously served on the Board of Directors for the High Country Care Givers Foundation. He is a member of the ET&WNC Historical Society.

    He enjoys traveling and is an avid collector of model trains. He is a proud supporter of Lees-McRae Summer Theater and Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

    "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 County 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 we are serving."

    Garrick may be contacted anytime at [email protected]

  • Brandy P. Hampton

    Brandy P. Hampton Funeral Director/Embalmer

    Brandy lives in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and is married to the Gregg Hampton. She has one daughter, Bayleigh. Brandy enjoys traveling, being outdoors, riding motorcycles, photography, animals and working in her wood shop. She attended FTCC where she earned her associates degree in Mortuary Science. Brandy genuinely cares for each family and their loved ones that she meets with. She pays special attention to all the tasks and details needed to help put a family a little more at ease in a difficult time. Brandy can be reached anytime at [email protected]

  • Donna Garland

    Donna Garland Administrative Assistant

    Donna lives in Elk Park and is married to Bob Garland. She has two sons, Jon and Jason and two grandsons, Bryce and Landon. She enjoys spending time with her family and is well known for her photography skills.

  • Michael Hendricks

    Michael Hendricks Family Services Counselor

    Michael was born in Jacksonville, Florida and graduated from Andrew Jackson High School. He is a licensed life insurance agent, with several years of experience. He retired from Publix Supermarkets in 2016. Michael enjoys assisting our families with their monument needs, aftercare consulting and pre-arrangement planning.

  • Sheri Cornett

    Sheri Cornett Funeral Assistant

    Sheri Shell Cornett comes to Reins-Sturdivant as an Avery County native,
    born and raised in the Heaton community. She currently lives in
    Crossnore with her husband and fellow Avery County native, Larry.
    She is a graduate of Avery County High School and attended Mayland
    Community College's nursing program. She began her career as a Certified
    Nursing Assistant II with Sloop Memorial Hospital in 1991, and currently
    serves as a Surgical Technologist for Appalachian Regional Healthcare
    System, with her base of operation at Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville.
    "I am a people person who cares deeply about those in the community in
    which we serve," Sheri says. "Working at RSFH allows me to help our
    fellow friends, neighbors, and even in some cases family deal with some
    of the most difficult times of their lives through acts of service and a
    friendly face."
    Sheri is active in her local church of Greater Joy Fellowship in
    Newland, as well as volunteers as a Guardian Ad Litem with the district
    court system, and additionally has served in the past on the board of
    directors of the Avery County Historical Society.
    In her spare time, Sheri enjoys researching genealogy, creating stained
    glass art, and crafting.

  • Rev. Marcus R Benfield

    Rev. Marcus R Benfield Funeral Assistant

    Marcus Benfield grew up in Hiddenite North Carolina. He graduated from Alexander Central High School. He is married to Teresa and they have 5 children. Marcus is the Senior Pastor of Altapass Baptist Church in Spruce Pine. He enjoys his work as a Pastor as well as helping serve in his community.
    Presently Marcus & Teresa have 3 wonderful grandchildren and they are a joy to spend time with. Marcus has pastored for over 30 years and holds a Doctorate in Theology. He enjoys family time and working on his small farm in the Spear Community.

  • Rev. Ronnie Pyatte

    Rev. Ronnie Pyatte Funeral Assistant

    Ronnie Pyatte is a native of Avery County and currently serves as the Pastor for Jonas Ridge Baptist Church. He graduated from Avery County High School in 1985 and from the Seminary at East Coast Bible College. Ronnie is married to Missy Johnson Pyatte and they have a daughter, Canaan Elizabeth Pyatte. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing the guitar, leading worship and Ministering.
    Ronnie’s hobbies include hunting and fishing, hiking, and tailgating at ETSU Football Games.