Our Heritage began in 1954, when Robert F. Ledford, Sr. bought out his partner, Frank Shull's half interest in The Shull Funeral Parlor. The Funeral Parlor was originally located on Gay Street then moved to Main Street in Erwin, Tennessee. Mr. Ledford was a native of Unicoi County. He grew up on a farm located in the Coffee Ridge community. Mr. Ledford served his country in WWII, and was blessed to have survived a German prison camp. After his life altering WWII experience, he returned to Unicoi County. Mr. Ledford's hard and dedicated work ethic made him a successful businessman. He owned a service station on the corner of Main and Tucker Street. Also, Mr. Ledford owned tractor trailers and hauled various products all over the United States including Southern Pottery which was manufactured in Erwin. It was during this time, he became partners with Frank Shull in The Shull Funeral Parlor.
After becoming sole proprietor of the funeral home, Mr. Ledford successfully passed his licensing requirements and in 1956 built the area's first facility designed specifically for a funeral home. Advertising in 1956 as the area's only air conditioned facility and adding the peripheral of emergency ambulance services. In 1963, his wife Betty E. Ledford began working in the funeral home with him. During this time period, it was customary for families to want their loved ones laid out in their homes prior to the actual funeral service. Or, the family would stay with the deceased at the funeral home "around the clock" until time for funeral. Add the 24/7 responsibility of emergency ambulance service; there are still members of the local community expressing their gratitude for Robert Ledford's speedy ambulatory assistance in getting their child or loved one to the hospital.
During a recent arrangement for her deceased husband, the 74 year old daughter recollected this about her father's passing being when her family's admiration and friendship to Robert Ledford began, "He simply felt like one of us; he was with us all the way."
Robert Ledford’s empathy and professionalism in servicing his community are also still on the lips of many locals. A family member recalls their loyalty when the patriarch of the family died and Mr. Ledford stayed the entire night at their home while the body was "laid out."
Mr. Ledford died unexpectedly on February 24, 1982. However the business is still “hard at work” serving the community in their time of need. The family operates the Robert Ledford Funeral Home and Chapel, with Mr. Ledford’s widow, Betty E. Ledford acting as President. The family of Robert F. Ledford, Sr. have been and continue to be active in the business with their mother; this includes the late Robert F. Ledford, Jr. and Kristie Ledford. In 1986, Mrs. Ledford built and opened Unicoi Funeral Home and Chapel. The legacy left by Mr. Ledford continues to outlive him and his family is grateful to have such a rich heritage and good name in the community. We are proud of the quality service we provide. Our family considers it an honor to serve your family in the time of need.