For almost 100 years, our mission has been to serve the families of this area with the personal care and attention to detail exemplified by our founders.
Sigrid James "Sig" Westmoreland entered the funeral business in a storefront on Logan Street near the current location of R. L. Greene Surveyors after purchasing an existing business from a Mr. Nichols around 1932. Sometime during the 1930's, Mr. Westmoreland took on a partner and the name was changed to Westmoreland-Quinn Funeral Home. It is believed that Mr. Quinn was from the Spruce Pine area. The business was relocated to a residential home around the corner on West Court Street (see photo) and Quinn left the firm at some point. The early years were typical of life in a small town. The home was heated with coal-burning Heatrolas located in the living areas and water was heated in a "jack" on a wood-burning stove.
As to the operation of the business, it was not unusual for a family to sit up all night with the body in the funeral home drinking coffee and helping one another through what was the accepted ritual surrounding the loss of a loved one. Placing the body in the home for this period was a fairly regular occurrence as many families preferred to receive friends in a familiar environment and most funerals were conducted in a church.
Sig ran an ambulance service as well, which meant running emergency trips at all hours of the night and day. The first ambulance was a converted limousine purchased from Dr. Guy S. Kirby, Sr. WWII brought "black-out" drills which were conducted in anticipation of enemy attack.
1940's - 1960's
In 1948 the business moved to its present location on Main Street, a large Colonial home (see photo) built in 1905 by a dentist, Dr. Reid, who operated his practice out of the home. Prior to the funeral home locating in this building, it was purchased by a local attorney, Mr. Morgan, who eventually configured the home into a 6-unit apartment building named "The Columns".
Upon purchasing the building, "S. J." made alterations to suit his purposes, leaving 3 apartments upstairs, which he continued to rent out. He and his wife, Diora, occupied the remaining downstairs apartment as their home and used the rest of the downstairs area for the business. He later added a large display room onto the rear of the house which had garage space underneath it.
During the 1950's, Mr. Howard Hawkins became associated with the firm as a full partner and the name was changed to Westmoreland-Hawkins Funeral Service.
Mr. Westmoreland moved to the Glenwood Community in the 1960's to a home he built on the old Westmoreland property, the site of the family's dairy farm which was begun in the early 1900's. His dwelling at the funeral home was converted into a makeshift chapel and viewing rooms.
1960's to Present
Following the deaths of Mr. Westmoreland in 1981 and Mr. Hawkins in 1982, Mrs. Margaret Westmoreland Gibson, the daughter of Sig Westmoreland, became associated with the firm. Mr. Walton Clapp, a longtime employee, became a part owner around this time and the name of the firm was changed to Westmoreland-Clapp Funeral Home. Mr. Clapp left the firm in 1992. The Gibson family then became sole owners of the firm.
Jim Gibson, a grandson of Mr. Westmoreland, became involved with the funeral home in 1991 and was instrumental in planning and initiating a full renovation of the building housing the business. A new 200-seat chapel, arrangement room, display area, and cremation options room are part of the ongoing efforts to provide a clean, modern facility yet one that retains the comfort and familiarity that families in McDowell County appreciate.
Jim Gibson eventually acquired full ownership of the firm in 2002 and with the help of his caring staff of six full-time and six part-time employees, continues to serve the families of this area with the personal care and attention to detail exemplified by the founder of this 75 year-old firm.