Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (2024)

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (1)

Billy Bernhardt

Owner/Operator/Funeral Director/Embalmer

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: 706-635-4325

Billy Bernhardt started off as a small child making flowers for cemeteries out of paper. “Every time someone would die,” said Bernhardt, “I would go to the funeral whether I knew them or not. I would watch closely and see what the funeral directors would do.” Even though many people — including his father — viewed this as an abnormal hobby for a young boy, Bernhardt was not influenced by the opinion of others and now owns one of the most successful businesses in Ellijay, Georgia.

Many people know Bernhardt as the longtime proprietor of Ellijay’s Bernhardt Funeral Home. However, Bernhardt has a legacy of service behind him to Gilmer County. This Gilmer native was the coroner for 22 years and sheriff of Gilmer County for 14 years. He was recently presented with a 50 year award from the Georgia Funeral Directors Association for his many years of service. He is also a member of the Academy of Graduate Embalmers of Georgia and The National Funeral Directors Association.

Bernhardt desired as a little boy to own and operate a funeral home. This dream came true with hard work, dedication, and a steadfast mind. “I worked for Hefner's Funeral Home before I went to embalming school. That was across the street from where the funeral home is now. There, I learned many things about the funeral business and embalming process.” Bernhardt then attended college in Nashville, Tennessee at John A. Gupton Mortuary School where he graduated in 1961.

As he attended college, some key aspects of Bernhardt fulfilling his dream and opening a funeral home in his hometown came to fruition. Bernhardt expressed, “When I went to embalming school, Hefner's sold out to Huey's, and they went out of business. I returned from Nashville, and I was looking for a place to open a funeral home. This building I started in was now vacant and in a prime location. As a result, I opened my funeral home in the same building in 1962. I did some upgrades to the funeral home and went and bought a black Cadillac hearse. I also had an ambulance service,” Bernhardt reminised. He added with a smile that if he is alive, Bernhardt Funeral Home will always have a black Cadillac hearse — a prestigious car, black with chrome, that has represented the funeral home’s name since Bernhardt has been in business.

The newly opened Bernhardt Funeral Home of Ellijay did not receive much business in the beginning. Bernhardt reflected, “We got our first body at the end of the month. The next month we only got two bodies. It was hard to survive, but I treated everybody right and that helped me out. Eventually, business started picking up, and I was thankful for that. I worked long hours and was determined for I knew this was my calling.” Indeed, Bernhardt’s dedication paid off, and he was able to build a new funeral home across the road in November of 1973. This funeral home was much bigger and had ample parking.

Bernhardt opened Yukon Cemetery in 1996 as a place for people in the community to be buried. He wanted to provide a state-of-the-art burial ground for everyone that desired to be buried there. He then opened a flower shop, and he wanted the arrangements to look like no other. After a long day of work, he would go and make flowers for the community well past midnight. Bernhardt made live blankets, baskets, sprays for funerals, cemetery flowers, and anything that people desired.

Bernhardt’s name became public for doing an exceptional job in the funeral business. Because of this, he decided, along with many people rooting for him, to run for coroner. Billy wanted to provide compassion and dignity for everyone while serving the community. He stated, “I became coroner of Gilmer County when I was quite young. I served as coroner for 22 years. While I was coroner, the governor of Georgia, Frank Joe Harris, appointed me to be sheriff of Gilmer County. So, I was then the coroner and sheriff.” Once his term as sheriff ended, Bernhardt ran for reelection. He defeated all five of his opponents, unopposed, and continued serving Gilmer County.

Mr. Billy Bernhardt married the former Sandra Reece and they have two daughters, Jenny (Doug) Harrison and Martha (Rev. Steve) Fields, and one son, Jason Bernhardt; 6 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. Billy's other son, Jonathan Marshall Bernhardt, passed away on April 24th, 2004.

Throughout the years, Billy Bernhardt has had some people in his life that have had a lasting impact on him and his business. “Mable Stegall (former secretary of Bernhardt Funeral Home) had a profound impact on me and my business. She would not let me spend a penny and this helped me out in the long run. She had the books down to a T and was very good with money. We got along well and that helped everything. Because of her, I’m a better person.” Because of the help of a lady named Mable Stegall, Bernhardt Funeral Home is the thriving business it is today. Billy has a portrait of Mable displayed in the Funeral Home to reflect on the heartfelt difference she made in a small funeral home in Ellijay, Georgia.

At Bernhardt Funeral Home, Billy Bernhardt cares to the highest degree on what the bodies look like. No matter if they are being laid out or not, he wants them to be presentable and treated with the same respect and dignity. Billy emphasized that the way a body looks is his top priority. Because of this and the state-of-the-art professionalism that is provided, Bernhardt Funeral Home has become one of the most prestigious and respected funeral homes in North Georgia.

In life, many people are facing circ*mstances and hardships that the public may not know about. One kind gesture and a person to help them along the way could make a lasting impact on their lives. Bernhardt has been this person to lead them along the way and not judge anyone based on the circ*mstances at hand. “Over the 60 years that I have been serving Gilmer County, I have treated each family with dignity, respect, and compassion. It has been a true honor to serve the North Georgia area. So, one takeaway from me would simply be — Treat everyone right no matter the circ*mstance at hand. You don’t know what people are going through and the lasting impact that you could make on them.”

Because of Bernhardt’s unmatchable service and generosity to Gilmer County, he was named 2009 Citizen of the Year for Gilmer County. The newspaper article at the time stated, “Billy Bernhardt received many nominations this year and was chosen by the selection committee for his humble generosity … Mr. Bernhardt has provided money, food, clothing, and much more for many citizens of Gilmer County.” One person wrote in their nomination letter, “I have known Billy for almost 50 years and during this time, the one thing that stands out in my mind about him is his willingness to help others. He is always eager to help those having difficulties and does not want anyone to know about his good deeds.” Many times, people are willing to help others for their own personal benefit. However, a true person is a person that does good deeds and wants them to go unnoticed. Billy Bernhardt fulfilled this statement in all capacities.

If he can ever be of any assistance, please feel free to call the funeral home where he still works every day of the week.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (2)

Jacob Bernhardt

Apprentice/ Funeral Director & Embalmer

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: 706-635-4325

Jacob is a lifelong resident of Gilmer County and is a graduate of Gilmer High School, class of 2009. He is the oldest of Billy Bernhardt's grandchildren. Jacob began working in the funeral industry at the age of 16, while still in high school. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service and graduated in 2015. Jacob is a valued asset to our team as an apprentice Funeral Director and Embalmer. He assists families with making arrangements, directing funerals, preparing bodies, and overseeing day-to-day operations in the funeral home. In addition, Jacob owns and operates Riverside Monument Co. When he is not working, Jacob enjoys doing anything outdoors, especially Bass Fishing. He is the Father of 2 sons, Owen and Henley Bernhardt.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (3)

Butch Anderson

Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: (706)635-4325

The Bernhardt Funeral Home of Ellijay is pleased to welcome Mr. Butch Anderson back as a full-time funeral director and embalmer.

Butch is a lifelong resident of Blue Ridge. He graduated from West Fannin High School in 1968 and Gupton-Jones College of Mortuary Science in 1970.

Butch is licensed as a Funeral Director and Embalmer in Georgia and Tennessee. Butch and his wife, Karen, currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Fannin County Empty Stocking Program. He has four children, thirteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (4)

Cody Evans

Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: (706)635-4325

The Bernhardt Funeral Home of Ellijay proudly welcomes Mr. Cody Evans as a part-time employee.

Cody is a native of Ellijay, GA, and graduated from Gilmer High School in 2002. In 2005, Cody received his degree in Funeral Service Education from Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro, GA.

He is a Licensed Funeral Director, Embalmer, and Life Insurance Agent. Cody has been in the funeral industry since 2000.

Cody and his family reside in Chatsworth, GA where he is a member of the Mountain View Baptist Church. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf and watching sports.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (5)

Tyler Reynolds

Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: (706)635-4325

Tyler is a life-long resident of Calhoun, Ga and is a graduate of Gordon Central High School, class of 2018. Tyler began his funeral service career in 2018. He is a graduate of Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service, class of 2020 and became a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer in 2021. Tyler is a member of Lakeview Pentecostal Church in Gordon County where he serves as church pianist and choir director. Tyler assists the families we serve with at-need arrangements, pre-need arrangements, preparing bodies, and directing funerals. Tyler is also a Licensed Life Insurance agent and pre-need counselor.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (6)

Robin Evans

Office Manager/ Secretary

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: 706-635-4325

Robin is a life-long resident of Gilmer County and serves as a very important part of our team. Robin oversees the clerical affairs of the business. She takes care of filing death certificates, assisting with funerals, and helping each family in any way that she can. Robin is married to Tommy Evans, and they have three children and four grandchildren. She always has a warm smile and a kind word for everyone. Robin is available to help anytime.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (7)

Andrew (Andy) Marquez

Director of Prearrangements/ Licensed Ins. Agent

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: 706-635-4325
Cell Phone: 404-423-3439

Andrew (Andy) Marquez began working with Bernhardt Funeral Home in 2019 as a licensed insurance agent specializing in prearrangements.

MBA from Shorter University and BBA from Georgia State University.

Andy currently lives in the Cherry Log Community and attends the United Methodist Church of Ellijay, GA.

He is married to Lori Marquez and they have two children, Thomas Marquez and Tawnia Vots and they have four grandchildren.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (8)

Ricky Wimpey

Grounds Keeper/ Monument Salesman

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: (706)635-4325

Ricky Wimpey is a life-long resident of Gilmer County. He is married to Meredith (Callihan) Wimpey and they have four kids. Ricky was the former owner of the Dairy Queen in Ellijay, GA. Ricky helps the Bernhardt Funeral Home with monument sales, grounds keeping, putting tents up, and helping transport bodies. Ricky plays a vital part in the production of the funeral home and is ready to help anyone.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (9)

Caden L. Farist

Funeral Attendant / Flower Maker

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: (706)635-4325
Cell Phone: (706)972-7771

Caden Farist is a resident of Gilmer County and has been with Bernhardt's since October of 2021.

The son of Joe of Ellijay and Valecia "Sissy" Cook Farist of Blue Ridge, Caden is one of three triplet boys. He is a proud member of the Clear Creek Baptist Church here in Ellijay, GA. Here at the funeral home, Caden is a funeral attendant who coordinates and assists with funerals, types obituaries, helps in the office, works visitations, coordinates our social media platforms, and so much more. He also makes flowers for cemeteries and funerals, in the flower shop, when he is not occupied at the funeral home.

Caden is committed to the University of Georgia to obtain an Executive Business Management Degree with a minor in Finance. Caden is a graduate of Gilmer High School where he was the Salutatorian, the Student Body President, and was involved in many extracurricular activities. At the high school, Caden was on the Principal's Advisory Council, the President of his class, a member of the Student Government Association, an officer in the National Beta Club, a member of Lead Gilmer, a member of the Chick-fil-A Leadership Council, the Student District Representative for District Planning, on the Georgia State Superintendent Advisory Board, on the United Community Bank Junior Board of Directors, and a full-time Dual Enrollment Student at the University of North Georgia.

In Caden's free time, he enjoys working with others and most importantly being an assistance to them. Caden strives to live a Christian life that is pleasing unto the Lord. In his free time, he enjoys going to different churches, revivals, and signings to support the "cause," hanging out on Lake Chatuge where they have a camper and boat, talking to people, and playing golf.

Caden's contributions are invaluable to our funeral home, and he is always available to assist you.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (10)

Cade Evans

Funeral Attendant

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: (706)635-4325

Cade Evans is a native of Ellijay, Ga and a graduate of Gilmer High School Class of 2019. He currently attends the University of North Georgia. He is also a member of Clear Creek Baptist Church. Cade loves sports, music, and spending time with loved ones.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (11)

Gary Watkins

Funeral Attendant

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: (706) 635-4325

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (12)

Leslie Ann Reece

Visitation Assistant

Email: [emailprotected]
Cell Phone: (706)635- 4325

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (13)

Donald DeHart

Retired Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer

Email: [emailprotected]
Phone: 7066354325

Mr. Doanld DeHart is a licensed funeral director, embalmer, and insurance agent.

He worked at Bernhardt Funeral Home for 43 years before he retired in January of 2021. Donald's expertise and contributions have been instrumental in shaping the funeral home into what it is today. He is a member of the Oakhill Independent Church, Oak Bowery Lodge #81, Georgia Funeral Director's Association, National Funeral Director's Association, and the Academy of Graduate Embalmers of Georgia.

Despite his retirement, Donald continues to assist us on a call-in basis during his free time. The Bernhardt Funeral Home expresses its gratitude to Mr. Donald DeHart for his unwavering dedication and years of service to our funeral home and the citizens of Gilmer County.

Bernhardt Funeral Home : Ellijay, Georgia (GA) (2024)
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