“Throughout the years our employees have been the backbone of our company, we’ve got the best ones in the state.”
That was just one of the remarks made by Bob White, owner and President of White’s Funeral Home, during a special ceremony Thursday honoring one of Parker County’s most well-established businesses.
Because of that fact, White’s Funeral Home received Texas Treasure Business Award, created by the Texas Historic Commission in 2005, that pays tribute to the state’s well-established businesses and their contributions toward the state’s economic growth and prosperity.
Businesses considered for nomination must meet the following criteria:
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▪ Have been in continuous for-profit operation in Texas for at least 50 years;
▪ Continue to operate the same or a very similar type of business as it did at least 50 years ago;
▪ Have a continuous record of employment for at least 50 years of age;
▪ Continue to operate as an independent, for-profit business. Cannot operate as a subsidiary of or have been absorbed into another business;
▪ Have maintained a good relationship with the state.
“We’re both thankful and grateful that we live in Texas, Parker County and in Weatherford,” White said. “God has given us a great place to live and we’re so fortunate to be here.”
The history of White’s Funeral Homes began in 1908 with an enterprising 26 year-old named Wayman Asberry White. “W. A.” specialized in the sale of coffins and funeral supplies at Captain Kidd’s Mercantile Store in Springtown. In 1913 W. A. moved 13 miles west to Poolville, where he continued selling caskets at the Ward, McDonald and Doughty Mercantile Store. During this time of developing his salesmanship skills, W. A. dreamed of owning and operating a funeral home.
Weatherford, the county seat of Parker County, was located near Poolville. It was a booming town filled with railroad, agricultural and commercial activity. In 1914 the city lost morticians T. A. Henderson and James T. Cotten to relocation and death. The loss prompted W. A. to actively pursue his vision of owning a funeral home. He moved his family to Weatherford and opened the White & Company undertaking business on the south corner of the downtown area.
An addition to the White family was announced in the January, 1915, issue of the local Weekly Herald newspaper. A little daughter Lenore was identified as W. A.’s new assistant embalmer.
Customary of the time most funerals were held the day after the death. The deceased was carried by a horse drawn hearse to the church for the funeral service and from there to the cemetery. When embalming became a common practice, it was performed by the embalmer in the home of the deceased. W. A. saw the day coming when the funeral home and specifically the funeral director no longer visited the home of the deceased in preparation of burial. Instead, the practice of bringing the deceased to the funeral home became more accepted. W. A. was always among the first to adopt newer, more progressive approaches to funeral planning.
With the growing importance of the funeral home came the need for a larger facility. In 1928 land was purchased between Houston and Oak Streets. W.A. built the original funeral home at 130 Houston Avenue in 1930. He purchased additional portions of the block and expanded the physical site to the funeral home which continues to conduct funeral services at the location today.
W. A. was a pioneer and innovator in the funeral industry. Organized in 1940, the W. A. White Burial Association was one of the first burial insurance companies in the state. It was designed to specifically assist anyone wishing to pre-arrange funeral services, thus removing the burden of funeral planning from the bereaved family. Original burial policies were written in the amount of $150. As time passed W. A. and his son Billie Ford determined that this insurance would not adequately satisfy funeral needs. In 1952 the White’s Service Insurance Company offered policies with values up to $2,500.
As a leader in funeral service in the 1950’s, White’s provided air-conditioned ambulances and housed the first air-conditioned chapel in Weatherford.
W. A. and Ford returned to Springtown in 1954 to start another funeral home. W. A. wished to return to his “old home place” and start another facility which would be more convenient for the people in that area. He wanted to thank the residents of Springtown and Poolville for allowing him to gain a foothold in the funeral industry in Parker County.
Increasing business created the need for more personnel. W. A. relied on members of his family which included his brother J. Herschel White, his son Billie Ford White, and his son-in-law Morris Sands. A young Navy veteran Charles Hamilton, joined the firm in 1952 and performed his duties for over 50 years.
After six decades of service W.A. passed away in 1969. W. A.‘s son Billie Ford assumed ownership for the next three years.
W. A.’s grandson Robert “Bob” White assumed the presidency of the business following Billie’s passing in 1972. Bob has continued in that role until today.
Following his grandfather’s example, Bob acquired funeral homes in Azle and Mineral Wells in 1986 in order to provide quality funeral care to residents in those areas. In addition to the four funeral homes, White’s owns and maintains two cemeteries; East Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford and Memory Gardens of the Valley Memorial Park, a perpetual care cemetery and mausoleum located between Weatherford and Mineral Wells.
The White family reached two milestones in 2012. Bob was recognized as the Funeral Director of the Year by the North Texas Funeral Directors Association. Also, Bob’s daughter Anita joined the staff of White’s thereby representing a fourth generation involvement in the family business.
Today, White’s Funeral Homes offer a wide range of services including traditional services, cremation services and pre-arranged services. While there have been many changes in the funeral planning industry over the last century, the staff of ten full-time and fourteen part-time employees at White’s Funeral Homes stand ready to meet the challenges.
Additional Information can be found online at www.thc.state.tx.us