A Legacy of Service
F. W. Townes, Sr. began his career in Danville in 1888 by working for the Furniture
and Undertaking firm of Kerns and Ferrell at 535 Main Street, opposite the old Post Office. In 1892, he bought the undertaking phase of the business, and established the new firm of F. W. Townes, Funeral Director.
The young graduate of the United States College of Embalming was well-equipped for the field of service he had chosen as a calling, not only by his educational background but also by his own personality and character. He liked people and he understood human nature and human needs. These qualifications, combined with his inclination to be helpful, made him one of the first to bring the consolation of scientific and sympathetic funeral service to people of Danville and the surrounding area.
As was inevitable, the demand for the services of F. W. Townes grew rapidly through the following years. This led him to open his own establishment at 531 Main Street in 1896. He made it an institution of service based upon a foundation of goodwill and loyalty to the people and the communities of the great bi-state area.
The early encouragement of widespread acceptance of his services was recognized as a challenge by F. W. Townes to strive for constant improvement in procedures, facilities and personnel. It was a challenge wholeheartedly accepted and wholeheartedly met.
As time and his own dedicated endeavor added experience, professional growth and the confidence of increasing numbers of families, F. W. Townes took steps to perpetuate the standard of service he had created. In 1915 his son, Fred W. Townes, Jr. entered the business and the firm name was changed to F. W. Townes and Son, Funeral Directors. In 1917, J. Blair Kerns joined the organization. Both young men had grown up in Danville and had attended local schools; both had received their professional training at the Renouard Training School in New York City. Both were trained personally by F. W. Townes, by careful guidance, by inculcation of the spirit of helpful service efficiently performed, to fulfill the desires, need and demands of the bereaved families of the Danville and nearby counties.
Great indeed have been the changes in nearly every phase of life since the tranquil days of 1892. At that time all the equipment needed by the funeral director was a pair of folding stools to set the casket on, three straps to lower it into the grave, and a horse-drawn hearse. Beginning in the 1920's changes in funeral service took place when educational standards were raised; the horse-drawn hearse gave way to a succession of motor-driven vehicles culminating with the modern funeral coach. The dark gloomy funeral parlors so typical of yesteryear were replaced by the comfortable, well lighted, functionally-designed and equipped funeral homes of today. In 1923, the Townes establishment moved to the new building at 635 Main Street, and was the subject of much favorable comment, because it had the atmosphere and appearance of a fine private home.
When F.W. Townes died in 1935, the word " incorporated " was added to the firm name and F. W. Townes, Jr., and J. Blair Kerns became the principal officers.
In 1936, Howard V. Cowan joined the organization as a funeral director and embalmer, and received his professional training at the American Academy of Embalming in New York.
In 1946, the funeral home was enlarged and Magdalene H. Young joined the organization as secretary. Eleven years later the new chapel was erected at 184 South Main Street, with plans to eventually add all facilities at one location.
Upon the death of Fred W. Townes, Jr., in 1957, J. Blair Kerns became president, F. William Townes, III, executive vice-president, Howard V. Cowan, vice- president, Magdalene H. Young, treasurer and C. Stuart Wheatley, secretary.
In 1961 J. Blair Kerns became chairman of the board, F. William Townes, III, president, Howard V. Cowan, vice-president and general manager, Magdalene H. Young treasurer and secretary.
In 1969 David L. Fuquay and H. Michael Parrish joined the funeral home and three years later Wallace B. " Rick " Adams, Jr. was employed. All three of these men have grown up in Danville, attended the local schools and received their professional training from Gupton-Jones College of Mortuary Science in Atlanta. They were personally trained in funeral service by F. William Townes, III, J. Blair Kerns, Howard V. Cowan, and Magdalene H. Young in the spirit and devotion to funeral service exemplified by its founder F. W. Townes.
In 1976, three years following the death of Howard V. Cowan, the funeral home name was changed to Townes Funeral Home, Inc. to reflect the next generation of funeral service.
In 1997 F. William Townes, III, became chairman of the board and David L. Fuquay became president, and a year later, co-owner.
Upon the death of F. William Townes, III in 2002, David L. Fuquay became sole owner of the funeral home. Wallace B. Adams, Jr. and H. Michael Parrish, each continue as vice-president, and Magdalene H. Young, as secretary-treasurer. In 2005, Joyce C. Fuquay joined her husband in the business and with the retirement of Magdalene H. Young in 2008, she became secretary and treasurer.
Today, Townes Funeral Home continues to provide area families with the most spacious and up to date facilities, and the latest advancements in the funeral industry, including an onsite crematory. Our funeral home staff is committed to serving the community and providing thoughtful, caring and compassionate service to the families we serve.