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Couple takes the reins of local family business

Staff Writer [email protected]

After 42 years owning the Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home, a business his family started in 1929, Funeral Director Howard Alexander is stepping down from work and stepping into retirement.

“I wanted to leave the business in the care of a family I had worked with since 1991, which is the Howards,” Alexander said. “They’ve been by my side all these years, and I know they will care for the community like our family has.”

Taking over the legacy of Dillow-Taylor is Tom and Brenda Howard, long-time staff of the Dil- low-Taylor family.

“We purchased the business, and everything went through June 22,” Brenda Howard said. “We definitely don’t want to change anything. Tom has worked for Dillow-Taylor for 30 years for Howie and I have worked for 25 years. We love Dil- low-Taylor; it’s been our life for many years, and we just want to carry on the tradition that Howie has been doing, caring for the community of Washing- ton County all these years, and it will continue the same way. Dillow-Taylor is very special to us.”

Brenda said that the Alexanders aren’t just people they work with; they are like their own family.

“We love the history of the funeral home and Howie and Rebecca Alexander are like family. Howie is like a brother to us, not a boss,” she said. “He was never a boss; he was more like family. We’ve grown to love them. We’ve just stepped in as he enjoys a bit of retirement.”

Alexander’s wife is Tennessee State Representative Rebecca Alexander, and Brenda said this will give Howard the chance to be on the campaign trail with her.

“He can enjoy the political side with Rebecca, now that she’s a politician. He’s going to travel with her more and be with her and enjoy that side of life,” Brenda said. “And we are just taking over for him.”

Howard Alexander will still be working at the funeral home, however, and meeting families just like he’s always done, Brenda said.

“Nothing is changing; we are just paying the bills now,” Brenda said.

The Howards both worked for a funeral home in Southwest Virginia before finding their way to Dillow-Taylor.

“Tom graduated from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in 1986 and we worked at Arnie Mullins Funeral Home in Rose Hill, Virginia,” Brenda explained. “We’ve been in the funeral business a long time. When the funeral homes over there sold, they sold to another company. It was more of a spiritual move. The Lord just allowed us the opportunity to move to a better job. It was a difficult decision because we were leaving all of our family, and we really didn’t know anybody over here. But we felt in our spiritual life that God was leading us in this direction.”

Brenda added that she felt God put them where they were so they could be there June 22, 2022, because He had a plan for their life.

“He knew one day we would be the funeral home- owners and everything that we do in our life is centered around Christ and that’s what we will do at Dil- low-Taylor Funeral Home, Christ first,” she said. “Everything we do will be a spiritual decision.”

Alexander said that God’s timing is perfect and he is ready to move onto the next chapter of his journey.

“I want to thank the residents and people of Washington County for letting us take care of their families and serve them for all these years,” he said. “It’s bittersweet. But it’s the right time.”