Gregory B. Levett is coming home.
The Conyers native is the owner and co-founder of the Gregory B. Levett and Sons Funeral Home, which started in 1980 with one funeral home in Scottdale and has since grown to four locations in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.
Now, with the opening of his fifth location in Conyers, at the site of the former Horis A. Ward funeral home at 1999 Ga. Highway 138 SE., Gregory Levett is returning to Rockdale.
“I’m finally back to where I started from, which is Conyers,” said Gregory Levett.
Levett, a 1968 J.P. Carr School alumnus, said the business had been serving a growing number of families out of Rockdale and Newton; last year they had 80 families from Rockdale and Newton.
“They had been asking us to make it more convenient for them,” he said.
The opportunity presented itself when the Advantage Funeral and Cremation Services corporation, which bought Horis A. Ward Funeral Homes in 1993, was looking to sell the facility along with 1100 others nationally.
Gregory Levett bid on the facility in February, and by May 30, the purchase was official.
The Levetts have renovated and redecorated the facility inside and out, with new colors, furniture, lighting and the works. And they’ve installed new technology to allow friends and family to view funeral services, even if they can’t attend, by watching live online, from their phones or from the viewing room. A new app will allow families to easily spread the word about their loved one’s funeral service.
In addition to the latest, most up-to-date amenities, when families come to the Gregory B. Levett and Sons Funeral Home, they can expect “First class service,” said Betty Levett.
Bernard Levett, Gregory and Betty’s son, said ”One of the things we pride ourselves on is our professionalism. That helps us stand out from other facilities. The staff is always very trained and knowledgeable. We have very strong policies employees must adhere to.”
All employees must adhere to seven core values that have been distilled over decades of experience in serving families during their time of grief. This includes giving quality funeral services, commitment to education to provide personalized services, respect other team members, honest and trust, commitment to care for families and to do what is promised. The company’s vision statement strives to make the business “nationally recognized as a funeral home with a reputation for excellence, leaving a legacy as a first class funeral business.”
The family has found that education, one of the core values, is key to being able to serve a wide range of cultural backgrounds.
“We serve all ethnicities, all races, all religions,” said Bernard. “Our staff reflects the families we serve.” They have staff of various races and ethnicities who are fluent in Spanish and French; there are employees that understand and specialize in serving the Ethiopian community. “Our staff is very versed in the different religious rituals. Jewish faith, Christian faith. We’ve done Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish,” said Bernard. Even atheist services, said Gregory.
The funeral home handles many international transactions as well, shipping remains and receiving remains for families from countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Canada, China, India, Mexico, South American countries, Caribbean countries.
In a way, Gregory Levett feels he is fulfilling the dream his father, the late George W. Levett Sr., had when he started Levett Funeral Home in Conyers, which is operated by Gregory’s brothers and sisters.
“My father’s vision, when he started in the 1950s, was to have multiple funeral homes. His dream was to have some in Conyers, DeKalb County and the surrounding area. He started two – one in Conyers and one in Lithonia, but he did not have that opportunity,” said Gregory Levett.
Gregory and Betty Levett have a long history of entrepreneurial activity and involvement in Rockdale. They opened the first Radio Shack in Conyers in 1976. Gregory ran for school board in 1976 and won the Democratic primary but lost the general election, by 76 votes. He started the Levett Bail Bond company in 1980. And also in 1980, he and his wife began the Gregory B. Levett Funeral Home out of Scottdale in DeKalb County. At first, they were looking for the funeral service thing to be a part-time endeavor, serving one family a week; Gregory was already selling insurance and Betty worked at the Thrift Town grocery store on West Avenue.
But it didn’t stay that way for long.
“My daddy had strong values,” said Gregory. “We applied those values in DeKalb County. The word got around through word of mouth. The response was phenomenal.”
The Gregory B. Levett and Sons Funeral Home and Crematory now serves 30 families a week, or 120 families a month.
They also own their own printing company, flower shop, and can provide catering and banquet halls for families, in order to provide those services for less cost to families.
Over the years, the funeral home has returned their good fortune to the community and donated about $1 million in charitable donations to schools, churches and communities in DeKalb and Gwinnett.
Now they are looking to start a special scholarship called the “PHD” scholarship – for post high-school diploma seekers, or those aiming to attend a technical college, beauty school, mechanics training program and more.
The family is inviting the public to celebrate the opening of the Conyers location and find out more about this expanding family business.
The Gregory B. Levett Funeral Services and Crematory will hold an Open House on Aug. 23, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. The event will have a live band and a grand door prize raffle of a home entertainment system with a 60-inch flat screen television and surround sound system. To enter the contest, stop by the funeral home and fill out a form to register; participants do not have to be present for the drawing on Aug. 23.
For more information, go to www.levettfuneralhome.com