Watson-King Funeral Home is the oldest funeral home and one of the oldest business establishments in Richmond County. Beginning in 1881, Henry Watson and John S. Watson offered coffins as one of their items for sale in their grocery and general merchandise store located on South Lee Street in Rockingham. The store building was destroyed by fire in 1903 and rebuilt at the same location in 1904.
In 1907, Walter King began work as manager of the H. C. Watson Company. In 1911, Mr. Watson and Mr. King became partners and incorporated the business, and the new company was known as the Watson-King Company. In 1909, D. L. Wicker came to work for the Watson-King Company. Embalming was installed in the facility when Mr. Wicker passed the state board requirements in 1913. In 1916, the Watson-King Company discarded their horse drawn funeral coach and bought their first automobile hearse from the Rockfalls Co. Walter King completed the requirements of the state board and became a fully licensed embalmer in 1917. Don Sedberry came to work with Watson-King in 1925 and would stay 20 years before leaving to start Sedberry Funeral Home in Rockingham.
Henry Watson died in 1926 at the age of 71. Following Mr. Watson's death, John D. Chalk was named president of the firm. Walter King's brother, Charlie King, came to Watson-King in 1930. Also, in 1930, Watson-King extended their service area into the city of Hamlet by opening a location on Charlotte Street. This new Hamlet location would provide service for 14 years. D. B. Andrews came to Watson-King in 1932 to become the manager of the Hamlet location. Mr. Andrews had been a licensed embalmer since 1916, having spent the past 13 years in Greensboro with the Poole and Blue Company.
In 1938, Watson-King moved from their Lee Street location to a brand new funeral home facility on East Franklin Street in Rockingham, where Watson-King Funeral Home continues to do business today. An excerpt from the Rockingham Post-Dispatch in 1938, writes, "The new funeral home is one of the most elaborate establishments of its kind in the State. Included in its many outstanding features is a chapel on the ground floor where funeral services can be held. The building, which has been under construction for five months, contains twenty rooms and has a basement, ground floor, and a second floor. The building is also equipped with an elevator."
Grover Baxley came to work with Watson-King Funeral Home in 1940 and completed mortuary science course work at the Gupton-Jones School of Embalming.
Walter King died in 1952 at the age of 74. Charlie King became the general manager of the firm, and John D. Chalk continued to serve as Watson-King's president.
Walter Stephenson came to work with Watson-King in 1953 after graduation from the Eckels College of Mortuary Science.
1960 to 1996
In 1960, Watson-King Funeral Home was purchased from Charlie King by Grover Baxley and Walter Stephenson. Charlie King died in 1965 at the age of 84.
Baxley and Stephenson partnered to operate the funeral home until Mr. Baxley's retirement, and Walter Stephenson became the sole owner in 1991.
During this time, remodeling enhancements included an expanded visitation room and extensive landscaping improvements.
1996 - present
In 1996, Watson-King Funeral Home joined with the management of Carriage Services. Walter Stephenson died in 1997 at the age of 68.
In 1998, Watson-King Funeral Home upgraded their facilities by adding a private arrangement conference room and other refinements to the Rockingham facility.
In 2000, with the overwhelming support of the community, Watson-King Funeral Home made a commitment to the citizens of neighboring Hamlet and opened another location again for business on Cheraw Road. This brand new funeral home facility in Hamlet was added to continue to provide professional service to all of the citizens of Richmond County and the surrounding area.
Watson-King Funeral Homes continues to offer traditional burial services, cremation services and memorial services. We also have the newest technology in Tribute Videos, Stationary Packages and Lifetime Family Websites.
The current staff members are Managing Partners Chad Woody and Tom Stephenson, who are North Carolina Funeral Service Licensees, along with Herbert Bailey, Bucky Smith, Jackie Hatfield, Wilbert Gibson, Jimmy McKay, Charles Hall, Lowry Walker, Allen Cox and Mike Deese.
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