History of Reynolds Hamrick Funeral Homes & Crematory
Etter Funeral Home got its start in 1895 when the George S. Etter, Sr. family opened its doors in Sport (now Ladd), then in Stuarts Draft. The Etters moved their operations to the corner of Spring Alley and North Wayne Avenue and then to the Wayne Theater in Waynesboro.
Etter Funeral Home later moved to 618 W. Main Street, between the General Wayne Hotel and the E.W. Barger home. In 1941 a new building was constructed in its place. The funeral home still operates from this location today.
The mode of transportation for the Etters began as a horse-drawn hearse, then progressed in the 1920s to the most modern, motorized hearses available.
The Etters and their three sons owned the business until the 1940s when George Jr. and his wife, Hazel, took over operations.
Charles Reynolds, originally from Bedford, bought the business in 1973 along with his father, Mike Reynolds, and Joe Workman, who had been with the firm for a number of years. Mr. Workman retired in 1988, selling his interest in the business back to the corporation. Charles Reynolds, who was working for a firm in Richmond at the time, did not know the Etters before 1972 when a mutual friend told him the family was interested in selling the business.
Being dedicated to the downtown environment, Mr. Reynolds and his partners decided the funeral home should remain in its current location with a new addition and remodeling of both the interior and exterior. In an effort to expand, he purchased the E.W. Barger home next door to help meet the business’ needs, including creating additional parking. In 1984 the building was expanded to what it is today. Another significant change in the business came in 1978 when the corporation purchased a home in Stuarts Draft, converting it into Etter’s Stuarts Draft Chapel.
In 1989 a crematory was added to the Waynesboro facility to serve the needs of people locally. At that time the nearest crematory was located as far as Harrisonburg or Richmond.
Upon celebrating the 100th anniversary of the company, the Reynolds name was added to the business, changing the name to Etter-Reynolds Funeral Service and eventually to Reynolds Funeral Service. In an effort to enhance the products, services and technological improvement offerings to the valley, Mr. Reynolds sold the business to Keystone Group, Inc. He has remained with the firm, which continues his tradition of personalized service acknowledging the fact that "every family is different and what suits one may not suit another."
A new transition began in 2007 when Reynolds Funeral Service and Hamrick Funeral Home in Staunton were combined to meet the increasing needs of the Waynesboro, Stuarts Draft and Staunton areas.
J.A. and Y.M. Bickel Cabinet Makers and Undertakers was founded in August 1865 upon the men’s return from service in the Civil War. Minor B. Hamrick became a partner in 1885. The business occupied a building at 124 West Main Street (now known as Beverley Street) from 1865 until 1889, when it was destroyed by fire. At that time, the business was moved to the present location at 18 West Frederick Street.
After the sudden death of Mr. Hamrick in 1897, and with two small children to raise and educate, his widow, Clara Fishburne Hamrick, the first licensed embalmer in the United States (licensed August 25, 1894), purchased the Bickle interests and the firm became known as Hamrick & Company. Mrs. Hamrick ran the funeral home, an ambulance service and a florist shop (one of the first FTD Florists in the United States) for her entire career until her death in 1955. Through the years, the facilities have undergone numerous renovations, including the addition of the current façade in 1926 by famed architect T.J. Collins; the addition of the east chapel in 1950, which was the first dedicated funeral chapel in the area; and, most recently in 2006, a complete renovation and redecorating of the interior. In 1969, Hamrick & Co. acquired Rosen Funeral Home in Middlebrook and operated it as a branch for more than 10 years.
In 2000, Hamrick & Co. became affiliated with Reynolds Funeral Service of Waynesboro and Stuarts Draft, and in June 2007 Reynolds Hamrick Funeral Home & Crematory was formed. The firm now serves families in Augusta and Nelson counties from the three Reynolds Hamrick locations.
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