RUTLEDGE – Smith-Reagan Funeral Home recently gained new staff members.
All staff members are Grainger County natives.
“I feel like it’s important to have local people running local businesses,” said Funeral Director Roy Lovin Jr.
In addition to being funeral director at Smith-Reagan Funeral Home, Lovin also holds the titles of manager, embalmer and pre-need insurance sales counselor. He is a Rutledge resident, who moved to Grainger County when he was 14 years old. He graduated from Rutledge High School (RHS) in 1999.
Lovin’s first job was in a cemetery in Knoxville. He was 14 years old at the time. He later worked and managed a factory job before deciding to pursue his dream job of mortuary work. He decided to go to John A. Gupton College to earn a degree. He said while he was earning his degree, he worked full-time at a factory and part-time at Smith-Reagan Funeral Home. Lovin is married and has three children.
Tammy Doane Rutherford is the administrative assistant for Smith-Reagan Funeral Home. Rutherford was raised in Blaine. She graduated from RHS in 1996. She is married with five children. She now lives in Knoxville, but said she chose to “come back home” to work.
Rutherford’s position is on the clerical side of the business. She handles obituaries and death certificates, among other tasks.
Rutherford was 16 years old when she took a telemarketing position at a cemetery in Strawberry Plains. The position was eventually cut, but she received a phone call a short time later, asking if she would like to return to work in the cemetery as an administrator. She said she worked for the cemetery for approximately 10 years until her son was born. Rutherford took a position at the cemetery once more before deciding to work at Smith-Reagan Funeral Home.
“We want to make sure that when you come in here, when you choose Smith-Reagan, you’re going to see a familiar face. It’s local. We’re local, and we’re going to take care of you,” said Rutherford.
Lovin and Rutherford said they want people to know Smith-Reagan Funeral Home is there for its families. Both said if Smith-Reagan Funeral Home can help a family through their grief, it has done its job. Lovin said his goal was to make sure at least one smile was seen on the faces of the family while they were at the funeral home. Rutherford said families are more than a case to Smith-Reagan Funeral Home. She said families are remembered after they leave.
“We treat each family member as if it’s our family,” said Rutherford.
She said people often ask if it is okay to do something outside of a traditional service. She said the families are always told Smith-Reagan Funeral Home works for them. There is no right or wrong when it comes to honoring a family member, she said.
Lovin said he wants families to make their loved ones’ funerals as personal as possible.
“Bring something in that belonged to them if you want to, and set it up as a memory because you’re here to honor their memory,” said Lovin.
Rutherford said she encourages families to bring photos of their loved ones to set up. She said families need to focus on the good memories to help them cope with their loss. Lovin shared a story about a woman who “made a mean pot of beans.” He said the family brought in one of the woman’s pots and filled it with beans. He said they asked each person to take a bean in remembrance of the woman.
Smith-Reagan Funeral Home now offers fingerprint jewelry and canvas photos to the families entering its doors. The furniture has also recently been rearranged to help family members feel more at ease.
Lovin said the business was trying to bring back old traditions, such as lighting the stained-glass window when a body resides in the building, while building new traditions, such as the kid’s corner in the private viewing area or sharing encouraging words on its Facebook page.
Lovin said Smith-Reagan Funeral Home is now allowing funerals to proceed normally. He said guests are asked to continue social distancing, but he said wants them to feel comfortable.
Smith-Reagan Funeral Home is located at 326 Water St., Rutledge. Anyone who would like more information or to give feedback can call (865) 828-5555 or visit Smith-Reagan Funeral Home on Facebook.