History of Shannon Rose Hill Funeral Chapel and Cemetery
Shannon Rose Hill Funeral Chapel and Cemetery's history began in 1906, when North Fort Worth was a separate town. Dave Shannon had moved to town 20 years earlier as a cattle driver. He and a partner, longtime funeral director George L. Gause recognized opportunity in rapidly growing North Fort Worth, where most of the county's cemeteries were located. The entrepreneurs' decision to build a funeral home near the growing population, yet far across town from the area hospital district, bucked conventional wisdom. The idea worked and the funeral business thrived.
Within 10 years, Mr. Shannon moved into county and state politics and turned the business over to his sons, J. Oliver Shannon and S.D. (Don) Shannon Jr. The new generation of the Shannon family was successful. Improvements they made to the business included a horse-drawn hearse and ambulance, and in 1919, they bought out Mr. Gause's interest. Later, younger brother, Marvin Boyd Shannon, joined the enterprise.
The company grew rapidly and was relocated several times before settling into a new and larger facility at the corner of 12th (now Northside Drive) and North Main streets. The funeral home shared facilities with Tarrant Masonic Lodge #942. In the 1920s, a second location was built in the Polytechnic Heights area of east Fort Worth. The new chapel was the first building in Fort Worth built specifically as a funeral home.
World War II created a shortage of available help to staff the facility, and it was sold to longtime employee, Raymond Meissner. Mr. Meissner successfully operated the Meissner Funeral Home at this same location for many years. In 1931 Shannon expanded again, this time to downtown Fort Worth at the corner of 10th and Texas streets. The business suffered during the Great Depression, and the downtown facility was sold in 1932. Thankfully, the other locations of the business survived.
The Depression created a demand for low-cost funeral insurance and the company responded. Shannon Burial Association and Shannon Funeral Insurance Company were founded in 1939. Life insurance or “burial” policies often guaranteed a casket and service for premiums payments of “'just pennies a week.” It was not uncommon to see company agents walking door-to-door to make collections on premiums while offering insurance protection to uninsured family members.
Prosperity returned to the nation in the 1940s, and in 1949, the North Chapel was moved across the street from its first Northside Drive location. Air-conditioned ambulances and limousines were added to the Shannon fleet. The ensuing 30 years were ones of ample growth and change. Jack and George Shannon joined the enterprise, representing the family's third generation of funeral directors. The two insurance companies were merged into one, forming Shannon Life. The North Chapel was enlarged twice and a new facility, Shannon TCU, was opened in 1968 in response to southwest Fort Worth's need for a premier modern facility.
During the late 1960s, the Shannons discontinued their ambulance fleet when a city-managed ambulance service was initiated. The days of the fondly remembered “'little red ambulance” were over. In 1984, the Shannons expanded into the cemetery business through the purchase of the historic 90-acre Rose Hill Cemetery in East Fort Worth. The park was renamed Shannon Rose Hill and restoration began immediately. The cemetery, which was founded in 1929 and had conducted more than 18,000 burials, had an estimated 30,000 undeveloped spaces when purchased in 1984. In 1988, Shannon Rose Hill Funeral Chapel was opened on the cemetery grounds.
The cemetery's reconstruction continued through major road restoration, irrigation projects, and the development of new garden sections and mausoleums. By 1993, the growing Shannon Companies had expanded into cemetery, floral, life insurance and advanced funeral planning operations, and it was time to refocus. The life insurance company was sold to a larger insurance company with deep Tarrant County roots. Shortly thereafter, the firm recognized that many of the families it had served for many generations were moving to thriving Northeast Tarrant County. In 1997, the company responded by opening Shannon Rufe Snow Drive Funeral Chapel. In the early 2000s, Shannon Funeral Chapel made the decision to close its oldest chapel (Shannon North) and focus on serving families at Shannon Rufe Snow Funeral Chapel and Shannon Rose Hill Funeral Chapel and Cemetery.
Shannon Funeral Chapels is a multifaceted, dynamic and growing business offering a wide range of products and services through four funeral homes, a cemetery and florist. Although much has changed during our history, much has stayed the same. We retain a strong, talented and devoted staff, proudly continuing the legacy of providing the very best in service, attentiveness and compassion. More than ever, Shannon Funeral Chapels are close, convenient and committed to our community.