About Us | Wilkerson Funeral Home

History

Our History

Our History

Wilkerson Funeral Home , established by William Henry Wilkerson in 1909 and five generations strong, remains the oldest family owned and operated funeral home in Rockingham County.

Mr. Wilkerson, who died August 29, 1964, was considered one of the true pioneers of funeral service in North Carolina. Born in Orange County, South Carolina, Wilkerson began his career in 1898 when he joined the Howerton Furniture Store, which specialized in making caskets. While building caskets, he took his first course in embalming and later went to Barnes School of Embalming where he received his formal training and diploma. He passed the South Carolina Board of Examination and started his career with Shuford Funeral Home in Gaffney, SC. In 1909, he moved to Reidsville as an employee of Burton-Chance-Walker furniture store where he pursued the sideline practice of "undertaking". In 1922 he moved from the furniture store to the corner of Gilmer Street and Main Street, establishing the first "funeral service" only business in Rockingham County

Mr. Marvin U. Ross, an embalmer and funeral director joined Wilkerson in the early 20's and worked with the Wilkerson family for many years. Many Reidsville locals, even to this day, remember his stately presence and professionalism. In the 1920's Mr. Wilkerson welcomed his sons, Henry Pittman "Pitt" Wilkerson and Robert Reid "Bob" Wilkerson to the firm. The younger Wilkersons helped to establish a quality funeral service firm for generations to come.

Wilkerson brought the first motorized hearse to Rockingham County and later established the Wilkerson Ambulance Service, which operated from 1922 - 1967. The Wilkerson Mutual Burial Association was established in 1935 and serviced its members for many years. In 1940 the Wilkersons purchased its cemetery operation, today known as Reidlawn Cemetery. Pitt and Robert took over the management responsibilities in 1941 and Pitt was named president at that time. He remained in that position until his death on January 3, 1997.

Following the footsteps of his father, Pitt Wilkerson became a fixture and true patriarch to the Reidsville and Rockingham County communities. It is interesting that in an article printed in the local newspaper in September of 1945, Mrs. Mahala Durham was quoted as saying, "Mr. Henry Wilkerson is about as good as any man I've ever known; he's good to me and he's good to everybody and he never does anybody a bad turn." Over 60 years later the stories are endless about the kind and giving nature of his son, affectionately called "Mr. Pitt". One letter to the editor mentioned that "his compassion, humility and strength was an inspiration to all who knew him."

Mr. Pitt always wanted Wilkerson Funeral Home to maintain its presence here in Reidsville, so he encouraged his son Robert L. "Bobby" Wilkerson to consider funeral service as a career. Bobby began helping his father in 1955 and after some schooling and military service, Bobby made his lifetime commitment to funeral service by going to the Cincinnati School of Embalming. He graduated in 1962 and was selected for membership in the National Honor Society of Embalmers, Pi Sigma Eta. He was President of his class and was the recipient of the coveted Austin F. Knowles award, which recognizes the graduate considered the best funeral director in the class. In the late 1960's the business incorporated and Bobby moved into a management position purchasing the outstanding interest in the business from his Uncle Bob and became the Vice President. In 1970, Bobby saw the need to offer permanent memorials and established the Wilkerson Monument Company. Upon his father's death, Bobby purchased all remaining stock and was named president of the corporation.

As Mr. Pitt approached his 80th birthday and over 60 years in funeral service, he and Bobby both felt the need to facilitate the management transition and a possible fourth generation of family involvement. Considering Pitt's semi-retirement, scheduled for September of 1990, Bobby hired his son-in-law, Ted Hopkins and his daughter, Drew Wilkerson McGee. Don McGee joined the firm in 1994 and was married to Drew later in 1998.

Under Bobby's leadership the firm made many visible facility changes as well as business system improvements and in October of 1992 Wilkerson Funeral Service was elected to become a member of the prestigious National Selected Morticians organization. This was an exciting opportunity for Wilkerson to associate with some of the most progressive and professional funeral care providers in the world. Needless to say Bobby has continued to add quality professionals to the staff as well as maintaining the long time staff members that have remained so faithful.

Finally, in June of 2000, the Wilkerson's had a ground-breaking ceremony to show the rendering of their new "state of the art" facility and to unveil their plans for generations to come. The new location at 1909 Richardson Drive opened in April of 2001. "It is our desire to provide the finest funeral service available, while providing superior facilities to accomodate families in their greatest hour of need."

Wilkerson Funeral Home was recognized by the National Funeral Directors Association as a recipient of the prestigious "Pursuit of Excellence Award" in 2009.

In 2010 Wilkerson opened it's complimentary business, the Family Pet Cremation Center. Don McGee, after 16 as a funeral director, took on the full responsibilities of our Greensboro location on Cheshire Way.

One year later, Wilkerson was the first funeral home in Rockingham County to add an onsite crematory. We are a full service cremation center that can provide you with the peace of mind knowing that your loved one never leaves our care.