BJ DRYE COLUMN: Remembering Jeff Hartsell

Over the last 23 years I have processed many obits here at The SNAP.

You get to know many families and about the many lives of people you never knew, but wish you had.

It also means I’ve worked closely with Kelsey, Stanly, Edwards and Hartsell funeral homes many times and became familiar with the many funeral directors and office staff members.

Due to the longevity of the business, I have come to know the Hartsell family fairly well.

It is not often a business survives that many years, but Hartsell has been serving local families since around the time of the Civil War.

The business even helped me go through college. I received a scholarship named in honor of Jeff Hartsell’s mother and had the honor of attending a scholarship banquet with her. I talked with her a few other times.

I’ve corresponded with Jeff and his wife, Jane, on stories and profiled his wrestling career at Albemarle High and The Citadel a few years ago.

I enjoyed working on that story. As many of you know, I enjoy wrestling. I guess you could consider Jeff Hartsell as the original Undertaker, without all the theme music and special effects.

When I heard he died a few days ago, it was definitely a signal of a changing of the guard.

He and Jane have not handled day to day operations for a few years.

However, they were synonymous with the name Hartsell Funeral Homes for many decades.

Jeff Branch, who works part-time at the funeral home, considered Jeff Hartsell a friend and mentor, more than a boss. He offered a few words on behalf of the family.

“Jeff was loved by so many in the community and you could see the comfort in families’ eyes when Jeff made an entrance into their homes,” Branch said. “It was like, everything is going to be OK because they knew their loved one was going to be in good care with Jeff.”

B.J. Drye is editor of The Stanly News & Press. Call 704-982-2123, or follow bjdrye1 on Twitter.