Tetrick Funeral Home celebrates its 100th anniversary this year
Published 11:49 am Friday, January 14, 2022
Tetrick Funeral Home has been around for a long time — in fact, 100 years.
According to Richard Tetrick, the firm traces its roots back to 1922 when the Williams Furniture Co., located in the 600 block of downtown Elizabethton, began selling “coffins and providing undertaking services to the public.” That same year the name of the business was changed to Williams Furniture and Undertaking Company.
One of the employees of the business was B.P. Curtis, who left his employment at Williams in May 1925, and started the Curtis Funeral Home with Frank Bailey serving as the funeral director. The funeral home was located at the northwest corner of Main Street and East Elk Avenue across from the Monument. Curtis owned and operated the funeral home until 1932 when the business was sold to H.S. North, who had moved to Elizabethton from Lawrenceburg, Tenn., where other members of his family operated an “undertaking establishment.” North owned and operated the funeral home until Sept. 1, 1943 when he sold the funeral home to Don Tetrick, who had moved to Elizabethton from Joplin, Mo., where he had worked at the Thornhill-Dillon Mortuary.
A few months after Tetrick moved to Elizabethton his father, Glen W. “Pappy” Tetrick, moved to Elizabethton from Kansas City, Mo., to join his son in the operation of the funeral home.
Aftr selling the funeral home to Don Tetrick, North moved to Franklin, Tenn., where he lived until he died in November of 1943. After North’s passing, the name of the funeral home was changed to Tetrick Funeral Home.
During 1944, the first full year Tetrick Funeral Home operated, the Tetrick family served 38 families. The funeral home operated at the corner of North Main Street and East Elk Avenue until the summer of 1951 when the Tetrick family purchased the stately Grindstaff Victorian home located at 211 North Riverside Drive. The funeral home was serving more families each year and additional space was needed. “Families were not having their loved one’s body returned to the home as often and families had started receiving friends at the funeral home. So, the larger building was needed,” said Richard Tetrick, son of Don.
In 1952, a new addition was added on the back of the funeral home; the 6,400 square feet, two-story structure had space on the second floor to display caskets. A sleeping area for the staff was constructed on the first floor, as well as four garages for ambulances and hearses and a storage area for supplies.
In 1955, Don Tetrick purchased Happy Valley Memorial Park seeing a need for funeral homes to be associated with a perpetual care cemetery. For 22 years, Tetrick Funeral Home was the only funeral home in Tennessee east of Nashville to be associated with a cemetery. The cemetery is now owned by Bill and Jared Tetrick, son and grandson of Don Tetrick.
Glen W. “Pappy” Tetrick retired from the funeral service in 1961 and died December 7, 1965.
In 1963, the Riverside Funeral Chapel, formal visitation room, modern restrooms and offices were added to the former home from which Tetrick Funeral Home operated. This structure was the first formal church-type chapel to be added by any funeral home in northeast Tennessee. More and more families wanted to have services at the funeral home as well as receiving friends where the funeral would be. The funeral home was serving more families each year, so the new facilities were definitely needed.
In 1968, Richard Tetrick graduated from the Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science and joined his father, Don, in the operation of the funeral home. In 1974, Don and Richard built and opened the Tetrick Rhododendron Chapel in Roan Mountain.
As the business continued to grow, more space was needed for the Elizabethton location, so the Garden Room, a new and larger visitation room as well as a new entrance were constructed in 1979. Additional parking for over 80 additional cars was added to the existing parking lot.
On January 1, 1980, the Hathaway-Percy Funeral Home was purchased by the Tetrick family. The Tetrick and the Hathaway and Percy families had been friends for many years. Roy Hathaway had passed away in 1976, and his partner Bob Percy had no heir apparent to succeed him. So, an agreement was reached between the Percy family and the Tetrick family to succeed Bob Percy as the owner and operator of the Hathaway-Percy Funeral Home.
Don Tetrick retired on January 1,1981, and sold his interest in the business to his son, Richard.
Don enjoyed an active retirement and played a part in Tetrick Funeral Home up until his passing on August 26, 2012. Don was referred to as “Daddy Don” by family, and by those employees whose lives he touched in meaningful ways. He was active in the First United Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday school for many years. Also, Don was very active in the local community by participating in Jaycees at an earlier age, Kiwanis, and many community civic boards in his later years. He is still greatly missed by his immediate family and by the Tetrick Funeral Home family and the entire Elizabethton and Johnson City communities.
In 1984, Tetrick Funeral Home was extensively renovated and expanded with the removal of the original structure that had housed the core of the funeral home for many years. Larger visitation areas were put in the area where the original structure of the funeral home had been.
1985, the Castle Funeral Home in Bluff City, Tenn., was purchased by the Tetrick family, and the building was completely remodeled in 1986.
In 2000, the Chapel of Peace was added to the Elizabethton location, and the entire building was completely remodeled. In addition to the original Riverside Chapel and the Chapel of Peace, the building now features two informal visitation room chapels. With the increase in the number of night time funerals, four services could be conducted in the building at the same time.
In November of 2001, the Tetrick family opened a new location at 3001 Peoples Street in Johnson City. The new and modern 12,000 square foot structure featured state of the art facilities which are still considered to be the best and most modern in east Tennessee. Families can have formal and informal funeral and memorial services in this building. Many families choose to have receptions for their family and friends in the building. The building can accommodate five families receiving friends at the same time. The Johnson City chapel has won several awards and has been featured in national funeral service magazines for its architectural style.
In 2010, Tyler Tetrick, the fourth generation of the Tetrick family to be involved in funeral service, received his Funeral Director license from the state of Tennessee.
In 2011, the lobby of the Elizabethton location was renovated and enlarged. A portico was added to the front of the building to help families load and unload from their cars in the event of inclement weather.
Over the years, Tetrick Funeral Homes have been honored by being invited into membership in Selected Independent Funeral Homes, the International Order of the Golden Rule, winning the National Funeral Director Association’s prestigious Pursuit of Excellence Award 14 times, and have been honored as the Best of the Best of National Funeral Director Association members. In addition, the Tetrick family members have been invited to and have led numerous funeral service study groups designed to raise the level of service to families. The local communities of Carter and Washington counties have repeatedly chosen Tetrick Funeral Homes as the Best of the Best of all funeral homes in their counties.
“Tetrick Funeral Homes have always taken pride in providing the best possible service and the most comfortable atmosphere for grieving families,” said Richard.
Through the years from its humble beginnings in 1922 in a hardware store selling coffins and undertaking services, the funeral homes have progressively grown to be the most often called funeral homes between Knoxville, Tenn., Greensboro and Asheville, N.C., and Roanoke, Va.
The staff of Tetrick Funeral Homes are well known and active in their communities. The 33-member staff includes ten licensed funeral directors, three intern funeral directors, a support staff of 19 members and Richie, the company’s “Care Dog”.
“In 2022, we are proud to celebrate our 100th anniversary of service to the families of northeast Tennessee and look forward to our next century of service,” said the funeral home owners.