Fluvanna Faces: Bradley N. Howdyshell

By Harvey J. Sorum

Prior to becoming a funeral director for Thacker Brothers Funeral Homes, what was your profession??

Emergency Services – 911 dispatcher and volunteer EMT

Why did you decide to become a funeral director?

When I was nine, my grandmother died at our home on Hospice care and my grandfather died when I was thirteen. The entire process was interesting to me…from the funeral home staff coming to the house, the arrangement process and selecting caskets, viewing them for a final time, watching the funeral directors handle the services, etc.

Thacker Brothers Funeral Homes was founded in Scottsville, Virginia in the mid-1960s. When and why did you purchase this business?

The funeral home actually dates to 1922 with origins from the Beal Furniture Company, which also sold caskets and began “undertaking” the task of burying the dead. (Visit the website for a more detailed history.)  My wife, Yvonne and I purchased the funeral home in January 2009. It started with a dinner conversation and happenstance crossing of paths with a colleague who knew the then-owners were wanting to retire.

Since September of 2010, have you expanded your business?

In 2010, we opened the Lake Monticello funeral home and in 2014 installed a crematory in Scottsville.

When a funeral home is needed, how do people decide on which one to choose?

Primarily by reputation, past experience, referrals from friends/family.

 Nearly all businesses advertise in order to be successful. Is this also something you do? How are some of the ways you do this?

Print and digital/Facebook – but word of mouth is our best advertising.

Different religions have their own way of performing funeral services. Must you be familiar with all of them?

To some degree, but not as much as in a larger metropolitan area. 

If a deceased is from a different state, would the burial ceremony be performed locally or at a location requested elsewhere?

Many families have a service locally, and then we arrange/handle transportation to the final destination where services can also take place.

Are ministers in your area of operation aware of Thacker Brothers Funeral Homes and other funeral homes?

We have great relationships with clergy as well as other funeral providers in the area.

Many people do not know exactly what a funeral home offers. What services do you provide?

Burial and cremation services; monument sales; pre-planning; and yes…pet cremation services.

Do you find more people are prepared ahead of time for your services or do they wait until the last minute? What do you recommend and why?

While many families do not prepare ahead of time, more people are planning their services well in advance.  This is a wise thing to do for many reasons. It allows you to make decisions in a more relaxed state of mind, without the intense emotions that are natural when a death occurs. Preplanning also lets you be in charge. The funeral director will take down your precise wishes and keep them on file so the surviving family members are not left wondering “what would he/she have wanted?”  There are also financial benefits to prepaying, as many of the charges can be guaranteed not to increase over time.

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