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 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 served as the Location Manager and Senior Funeral Director until his retirement in 2019 after 31 years of serving Avery County.  Even though he is retired he remains available to assist when needed. 

Bryan Winslow, a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer who joined the firm in January 2016, now serves as the location manager and will 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.  

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

  • Bryan Winslow

    Bryan Winslow Location Manager/Funeral Service Licensee

    Bryan is a native of Rutherford County North Carolina and joined us in 2016. Bryan brings a 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 bachelors degree he attended Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science where he graduated in 2014 with an associates degree in Mortuary Science. He is a member of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Banner Elk. He is an avid supporter of the NC State Wolfpack, Baltimore Ravens, and Cleveland Indians. He enjoys bowling, snow skiing, drag racing and traveling anywhere on an airplane.
    Bryan can be reached anytime at [email protected]

  • Brandy P. Hampton

    Brandy P. Hampton Funeral Director/Embalmer

    Brandy lives in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and is married to 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.

  • Walter Johnson

    Walter Johnson Family Services Director

    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 a licensed funeral director, and is 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 Boone, North Carolina. They are active members of Willow Valley Baptist Church (Watauga County), where Walter serves as a deacon and in other leadership roles.

  • Doyle Shomaker

    Doyle Shomaker Senior Funeral Associate

    Doyle retired as the Banner Elk, North Carolina Postmaster and has been associated with the firm since 1993. September 2018 marked Doyle's 26th 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.

  • 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 Harmony Baptist Church, where Steve services as an Elder and is a Sunday School Teacher. 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.

  • 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.