County Coroner Tommy Davis fulfilled a life-long dream this week after purchasing the Harwell-Wheeler Funeral Home on East Street in Covington.
Davis was general manager at Wheeler Funeral Home for several years and when Bill and Bob Wheeler discussed selling the East Street location, Davis said he was interested.
"I started in the funeral business when I was 15 years old, helping a family friend who had opened (a funeral home). I knew right away that was a career I wanted to have," said Davis, who has worked in funeral homes for 27 years. "I always had a dream to own a funeral home."
One of the first funerals he ever worked was for a friend's grandmother.
"They really appreciated me being with them during that time. I realized how much of a comfort it was to be with their daughter and them. It touched me to be a part of that, to have that affect on someone," he said.
The East Street building was built in 1943 and was originally the J.C. Harwell and Sons Funeral Home. The Wheeler family purchased the building in 2003 to allow William Charles Harwell to retire, Davis said.
He's changing the name to Harwell Funeral Home.
"This business has such a rich history in Newton County," Davis said. "Harwell may be the oldest existing business in Covington with 117 years of service. It's a small funeral home, very quaint, very family oriented with very comfortable service."
Davis said he plans to offer all of the traditional services you expect from a funeral home, including traditional funeral services, cremation services and pre-planning programs.
Clay Newman was a co-purchaser of the funeral home and will be the majority partner, he said in an e-mail.
Davis declined to give the purchase price. According to the Newton County Tax Assessor's web site, the 3,838 square foot location is on 1.21 acres and was valued at $219,600 in 2010. Chief Tax Appraiser Tommy Knight said Friday that the official assessment of a funeral home does not include the value of its equipment, furniture, inventory of items including caskets, song hymnals and necessary supplies, which can often equal the price of the land and building.