Rising from the ashes

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Messenger photo by Whitney Wilson Coy

The Jerry Spears Funeral Home, located at 2693 West Broad St., fell victim to arson Jan. 31, 2007. After a long reconstruction, the business is now ready to re-open.

It’s been a long road for the owners of the Jerry Spears Funeral Home, but the Westside landmark is finally ready to open its doors once again.

“It’s been quite a year,” said Bob Spears, who co-owns the funeral home with Steve, Jerry III and Rebecca Spears.

The funeral home, located at 2693 West Broad St., was the target of an arsonist on Jan. 31, 2007, causing $1 million in damage.

Following the fire, the Spears family experienced a huge outpouring of support from the community, including several inquiries as to whether or not the funeral home would be able to do what they do best – provide funerals – during the repairs.

“There are people in the community who have just always come to us,” said Spears.

But the family endured, using local churches to hold both the viewings and funeral services.

“Everybody was really gracious,” said Spears.

The only level not harmed by the fire was the lower level, which is where embalming is performed.

“We got really lucky there,” said Spears.

The company’s files were also left untouched during the files, assuring that any arrangements made before the fire are still secure.

The family worked out of a garage on the rear of the property for two months following the fire, and then relocated to a modular in the parking lot.

“I was really glad to see that trailer go,” said Spears.

What was initially estimated by insurance inspectors to be a six-month reconstruction project, however, was strung out to a year-and-a-half.

During the reconstruction, the funeral home underwent some needed changes, including the removal of stairs, enlarged bathrooms and new sound systems, according to Spears.

The basic structure of the building, however. remains unchanged.

“This is one of the oldest buildings in the Hilltop, so we wanted to make sure that we put it back nice,” Spears added.

To celebrate their reopening, the funeral home is hosting an open house on June 7, from 1-6 p.m.

“It’s just a way for people to come in and look around,” Spears added.

Refreshments will be served at the event.

The Jerry Spears Funeral Home was started in 1928 by Jerry Spears Sr., great-grandfather to Bob and Steve. It has stayed in the family ever since.

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