History & Staff
At Diuguid Funeral Service & Crematory, we provide personalized service options that allow you to honor your loved ones in a way that is both meaningful and healing. We hope to provide support and caring while delivering memorial services that celebrate life and help families find the peace they deserve.
If you’re seeking an honorable celebration of life in Lynchburg and the surrounding areas, we invite you to learn more about where we came from, our vision, and the dedicated people behind our work.
A History of Caring
Honoring Our Veterans
Our Waterlick Chapel
Our Wiggington Chapel
Learn The Legacy
The second oldest funeral home in the United States, and the oldest in Virginia, was started by chance and not by design.
A Legacy of Service to Lynchburg
In 1817, thirty-one years after the beginning of Lynchburg, Sampson Diuguid of Appomattox married Martha Patterson and moved to Lynchburg to start a hand carved furniture business. The Diuguids were descendants of French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution. In America they took the name as a contraction of the motto "Dieu Guide" meaning "God as our guide".
With a reputation as a maker of fine furniture, Sampson Diuguid was called upon to make caskets for local citizens. This was the turning point of his business and the beginning of Diuguid Funeral Service; he was a furniture maker by trade, an undertaker by chance. In 1820, he conducted twenty funerals including one of Bedford County's leading citizens, James C. Steptoe. In 1827, he purchased the property at 616 Main Street where the business continued until 1933 when it moved to 1016 Rivermont Avenue and currently, 811 Wiggington Rd. and 21914 Timberlake Rd.
Pallbearers bore the coffin from the church or home to the cemetery, often a distance of a mile or more over muddy roads. The pallbearer's hardships prompted Diuguid to build an improved litter which employed men at each end. It was not until the 1830's that the litter was replaced by a crude, home-built hearse which was enclosed by a curtain hung over the sides to conceal the coffin from public view.
In 1837, the Lynchburg Hose Company was organized with Sampson Diuguid as engineer-in-chief. By this time he was sharing the business with his son, George A. Diuguid. It was George Diuguid, along with his son, W.D., who upon seeing the coffin of President Garfield, was moved to invent what is now called a church truck. The church truck was needed for Lynchburg churches because aisles were too narrow for pallbearers to walk on both sides of the coffin to carry it. It involved a bier with one large set of wheels in the middle and smaller diameter wheels at either end. The result was a litter that could be guided from each end and turn on the larger middle wheels. It was made entirely of poplar wood. At the 1926 meeting of the National Association of Professional Funeral Directors in Washington, D.C., the Diuguids were publicly recognized as the inventor of the church truck and a benefactor of the profession.
The columns of The Lynchburg Virginian paid their highest respect to Sampson Diuguid upon his death in 1856. "The funeral services of this lamented gentleman took place Sunday morning and were very numerously attended. After the sermon was preached, a procession was formed. This consisted of the Lynchburg Hose Company, of which the deceased was an officer. An engine was clad in mourning and drawn by four white horses, also in mourning. Also in the procession was a large numbers of Sons of Temperance and citizens in carriages and horseback-all of which accompanied the remains of their late brother and friend out of the city to the final resting place in Appomattox County." The editors closed their account by saying that "it is not strange that so many rose up to honor the memory of the departed for he was immediately possessed of all the noble traits of character which command the respect and esteem. In a long life of honesty, integrity, benevolence and unwavering correctness of conduct, he had gathered around him a host of earnest friends. In discharge of the duties of his business, Mr. Diuguid has assisted in consigning hundreds, yes thousands we may add, to the cold chambers of the dead, and now in fulfillment of the inexorable destiny of man, he too had gone down beneath the clod of the valley. Peace to his ashes; honor to his memory. Prior to the Civil War which began in 1861, practically no embalming was done by the firm. Each body was prepared without chemical preservation. Accounts covering services performed usually included the cost of cotton used and the conventional sheet which served as a shroud or throw. When a death occurred at a home, Mr. Diuguid took his supplies to the home. Here he prepared the body. which was fully dressed and placed in bed, for burial. He took measurements for the coffin and built it accordingly. In his records are the following measurements: "1863, metallic case to be made to receive Stone child which will have to be 4 ft. 6" long, 18 in wide and 12 in. deep, head 11 in. wide, foot 9 in. wide." The day of the funeral Mr. Diuguid took the coffin to the home and placed the body in it. The funeral itself was held in the home, at the funeral home or at the church.
The war made it necessary to prepare the bodies for shipment by railroad to distance parts. After embalming, the body was placed in a coffin with the outer case packed with charcoal. Those bodies not claimed were interred in the Methodist Cemetery, now the city cemetery. Each month in the record books a special page was set aside for war deaths under the heading of "Confederate States."
In January of 1863. 196 burials for soldiers were listed. The cost of these funerals was $9 compared to $12 for civilians. In 1864, the price to bury a soldier rose to $15. Inflation caused by the war and the value of the Confederate dollar also increased other prices. In January 1863, food prices were as follows: flour $36 a barrel sugar $145 a barrel, butter $2 a pound and by 1864, a pound of butter was $ 6.50, sugar $8 a pound and flour $250 a barrel.
During the Civil War, the Diuguid Funeral Home buried nine generals: Gen. Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, Gen. Jubal Early, Gen. Robert E. Rodes, Gen. David Rodes, Gen. James Dearing, Gen. Samuel Garland, Jr., Gen. John Holmes Smith, Gen. T.T. Munford and Gen Richard Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, father of Gen. Robert E. Lee. It is interesting to note that on April 9, 1865, the date of the surrender, no funerals were recorded. In May of 1865, the pages reserved for soldiers were headed "United States Government."
The records of Diuguid Funeral Service were so meticulously kept that when the Virginia Legislature appropriated funds for the Confederate Ladies Memorial Association to mark each grave with a stone bearing the man's initials, his state and the unit to which he belonged. The unique records of George Diuguid were used to accomplish this feat.
A turn- of- the- century hearse made of thick carved hardwood is still on display at the "Old City Cemetery" in a special glass front building for public viewing. The back of the hearse opened to slide the coffins in on rollers. There is a trap door underneath that was used to load a child’s coffin. In front are two small doors for ventilation and loading flowers. Under the driver’s seat was a place to store shovels to dig the grave and a place to keep lunches as it would sometimes take all day to get to the cemetery and back. The hearse was pulled by black horses for adults and white horses for children.
It was in 1880 that W.D. Diuguid joined his father in partnership. The original brick building at 616 Main Street was replaced in 1872 by a four story brick building. The rubber-tired hearse first used in the 1880’s, as well as the motorized hearse, was first used in Virginia at Diuguid's.
W.D. Diuguid had a special interest in palindromes. Even his name was the same spelled backwards or forwards; his funeral license was 11; place of business 616; phone number 111; home address 616 Court Street and post office box 33.
With the death of W.D. Diuguid in 1927, his daughter, Mary Diuguid, a prominent local artist, became president of the firm. In 1933 the building at 1016 Rivermont Ave. was built and both locations were listed in advertising of the next three years. The original location was raised in 1973 and is now a parking lot. Mary Diuguid continued with the funeral home until 1948 when she sold the business to John C and W. Ford McKee. John C. McKee was one of the principal organizers of the Southside Funeral Directors Association. In 1970, James P. Wilkerson, who had been with the firm since 1941, along with Robert R. Woodall, Haywood G. Ogden and W. Ray Mitchell were successors to the McKee’s.
A crowd of over 1500 people attended an open house November 13 and 14, 1982 at the newest branch location of Diuguid Funeral Service at 21914 Timberlake Road. The name Diuguid lives on as an interesting part of Lynchburg’s business life, having conducted over a hundred thousand funerals. Little did Sampson Diuguid realize that his original furniture business, which later became an undertaking business, would last this long (currently 199 years as of 2016).
The funeral home is now 199 years old and still giving the kind of service that would make Sampson Diuguid proud.
Our Staff’s Dedication to Respectful Care
A funeral, or memorial service, should provide family members and loved ones with the chance to reflect, remember, and celebrate a life well-lived. At Diuguid, our goal is to create exceptional services and experiences that fulfill the wishes of your loved one. Our experienced Funeral Directors provide guidance on the crucial first steps toward healing.
Charles "Chuck" Bartel
Location Leader and Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer
Originally from Sheboygan, WI, Charles "Chuck" Bartel has more than 30 years of funeral service experience. Chuck graduated from Sheboygan North High School, attended the University of Wisconsin, and graduated with honors from Milwaukee Area Technical College with an Associate Degree in Funeral Service. He states that, “during one of the most trying times of our lives we turn to family for comfort. When entrusting me with the care of your loved one, you can take comfort in knowing that they will be treated as if they are a member of my family. I am honored to be a Funeral Director and take great satisfaction in helping families get through difficult times.”
Chuck and his wife, Jennifer, enjoy the scenic view of the mountain ranges from their home in Forest, VA. Chuck and Jen look forward to meeting many new friends and taking in everything that Lynchburg and the state of Virginia has to offer. Chuck is also affiliated with local Moose Lodge 715 in Lynchburg.
Dan G. Mason
Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer
Dan is a licensed funeral director and pre-need adviser at both Diuguid locations. He is a graduate of Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg College, Central University School of Medicine, John Tyler Community College-School of Mortuary Science and Liberty University- Bible College. In addition to his duties with Diuguid, Dan is the Associate Pastor of Inglewood Baptist Church.
Cecil T. Thompson
Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer
Cecil “Buddy” Thompson attended Lynchburg College and graduated from Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service in Atlanta, GA and has worked in the Funeral Home Industry for over 50 years. Buddy says, “I believe serving people in their time of grief is a blessing to me and is helpful to them by allowing them to share their loss with others.” Buddy’s father was a Funeral Director with Diuguid Funeral Service and he sometimes feels he has been there all his life. Buddy and his wife, Joy, are members of Thomas Road Baptist Church and live in Lynchburg with their canine companion Pepper.
Community Outreach Coordinator
Melissa Kennedy Grey is delighted to join the Diuguid family as Community Outreach Coordinator. With a background in theatre, event coordination, project management, and animal welfare, Melissa is excited to bring her skill set and and passion for creating community to this role. She is the founding director of Effulgent Productions and its youth outreach program, Acting Out Theatre Club. When she's not working with kids or tending to her own magical menagerie of rescued animals, you can find her celebrating happily-ever-after with her darling husband at Disney World!
Alice is the Administrative Assistant for Diuguid Funeral Service. She and her husband Bob are members of Thomas Terrace Baptist Church. Alice is a former Sunday School teach for the 5 year olds and is currently a greeter. She is also the Widow to Widow program coordinator for the funeral home. This group meets monthly at one of the local restaurants, which allows the widows to meet, fellowship and share their grief together. Various programs are presented during the year for the benefit of the ladies who are living alone. Alice & Bob have one son, Bobby and his wife Lisa and three grandchildren.
Nancy has been with our firm for over 30 years, serving as receptionist at our Waterlick Chapel.
She is a member of Highland Heights Baptist Church.
Funeral Director Assistant
Roger Sockwell has a background in Information Technology, Emergency Services and Financial Services. Roger has been in the Funeral Service Industry for two years and feels that he will “always provide service above and beyond the normal requirement”. Roger is also affiliated with Campbell County Schools and the Fire & Rescue Services of Guilford County, N.C. Roger and his wife, Lisa, and their cat have been residents of VA since 1994.
Dennis has been living in this area for nearly 50 years. He has always had a career in customer service positions. Dennis enjoys assisting clients and families in their daily lives. He has now brought that passion for service to Diuguid Funeral Service. Dennis and his wife are members of Pleasant View Baptist Church for over 25 years. They have three grown children.
John has been a Funeral Assistant for the firm for five years. He feels it is a special privilege to be able to help families during their time of grief. John was raised in Pennsylvania, attended college in Northern Virginia and moved to the Lynchburg area in 1993. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife, their dog, and their two cats.
Wanda works as a Funeral Assistant, and also part-time Receptionist for the firm. She was born in West Virginia, but has been a “Virginian” since she was five. She retired after 40 years with Piedmont Metal Products in Bedford, and is looking forward to her new career helping people during one of life’s most difficult times.