History & Staff
We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.
In 1894, business man D. E. Tribble opened a hardware and building supply store and the first known funeral parlor in Clinton, which was referred to as the D. E. Tribble Company.
In order to help run the undertaking business, Mr. D. E. Tribble hired Laurens native, L. R. Gray, who was also a merchant of the hardware business and had recently graduated in August of 1924 from Cincinnati College of Embalming. Mr. L. R. Gray worked for the D. E. Tribble Company up until the Great Depression when in 1934 he moved his family back to Laurens where he went to work for Mr. Jim Dunklin at Laurens Hardware.
During his first year with Laurens Hardware, Mr. L. R. Gray decided that he would return to Clinton and begin his own undertaking business. In January of 1935, L. R. Gray and V. Parks Adair with the financial backing of P. Silas Bailey, John T. Young and Horace D. Payne would purchase the home of J. I. Copeland located on East Carolina Avenue and began Gray's Funeral Home, Inc.
For the next thirty years Mr. L. R. Gray would own and operate the funeral home until in 1965 he would sell it to Mr. Ralph F. Patterson. Mr. R. F. Patterson was a native of Lanford and had graduated from Laurens High School in 1936 and from Wofford College in 1940. Before becoming owner of Gray Funeral Home, he pursued a career with S. H. Kress and Co. where he managed five different stores in the Southeast.
Under the ownership of the Patterson family, Gray Funeral Home would see many changes. In July of 1973, Mr. R. F. Patterson would acquire the Abram's Funeral Home in Whitmire and three years later in August of 1976 they would move the funeral home in Whitmire to the former residence of Mr. and Mrs. John William Hipp, Sr. located at 302 Church Street. In 1974, Mr. R. F. Patterson decided a major renovation to the Clinton funeral home was needed in order to serve the community. The renovation included a new chapel and larger visitation rooms. Then again in 1980, Mr. R. F. Patterson expanded their services to the community of Laurens, where they bought the former Colonial Store located on Main Street and renovated it into a new, beautiful funeral home.
During Mr. R. F. Patterson's career of funeral directing, he was very involved with the local community as well as the funeral community. He has served as President of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the United Way, President of SC Funeral Directors Association, and President of Kiwanis. In an autobiographical sketch Mr. R. F. Patterson wrote, "The change of vocations was one of the biggest decisions of my life, but one I'll never regret. Because we render a service every day, life is so much more meaningful. It really gives one an inner peace after a hard days work and knowing that a grieved family was helped through the crisis of the death of a loved one."
The service Mr. R. F. Patterson gave to his community and profession for more than 25 years has been carried on through his son, Mr. R. F. Patterson, Jr., when he took over ownership in 1990. Since his ownership he has continued serving Clinton, Whitmire and Laurens with the utmost care and has added a full staff of caring professionals. Mr. R. F. Patterson, Jr. and his staff continue serving the communities by their membership and participation in the following: First Presbyterian Church, First Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, Redemption Baptist Church, Fairview Baptist Church, Kiwanis, Rotary, YMCA, Chamber of Commerce, and the Laurens County Coroner's Office.
Our Valued Staff
Homer Elwood, Owner; Funeral Director and Embalmer, SC License #1865
Zachary T. Elwood, Funeral Director and Embalmer, SC License #3858