History & Staff
We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.
Spring Hill: Where Tranquility Meets
Spring Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery is one of the most beautiful landmarks
of Nashville. Its wide open spaces dotted with majestic trees and beautiful
flower gardens offer tranquility and beauty not only to the families it serves
but to the community as a whole.
The history of Spring Hill dates back to the 1780s when the first settlers moved in from the Cumberland settlement into an area six miles east of Nashville called Haysboro. The land offered fertile soil for their crops and a plentiful steady water source from several springs. Needing a church and school, James Robertson persuaded the Princeton educated Reverend Thomas B. Craighead of Mecklenburg, North Carolina, to move to Haysboro as a preacher and teacher. With a promise of 640 acres of land he arrived in 1785. The settlers had built a log house on the property for him and his family.
Nashville: A Center for Learning
Within a year, a gathering place for the Spring Hill community was constructed. It was a 24 foot by 30 foot building made from native stone. Here Reverend Craighead preached on Sundays and taught school during the week. It was known as the Spring Hill Meeting House and established the first Presbyterian Church in this territory. The school was called Davidson Academy and was chartered by an act of the North Carolina Legislature in 1785. It was called “An Act for the Promotion of Learning in Davidson County”. It also laid the foundation for the evolution of Nashville as an educational center.
By 1800, Nashville had grown from a string of forts located along various waterways to a thriving little town. It boasted a post office, newspaper, several stores and taverns, and Davidson Academy. In 1806, Davidson Academy was named Davidson College and had moved across the river to College Hill. Several years later when Thomas B. Craighead was replaced by James Preistly , the name was changed again to Cumberland College. The church yard was used as a community burying ground. In 1813, it was designated Craighead Spring Hill Cemetery.
The Civil War Years
Tennessee was divided during the Civil War: 167,000 men served in Confederate Gray while 31,000 in Union Blue. Nashville felt the effects of the war but fortunately was spared the devastation other southern cities faced. Trees were gone and the land scarred by Union occupation. As with the case of church or privately held burial grounds, Spring Hill Cemetery had fallen into decay.
Recovery from the war took many years. New people arrived, transportation and trade revived, especially with the westward expansion of the railroads. The population increased three times from the pre-war era. Life was full of optimism and Nashville became the 4th largest city in the South.
In 1888, a company of gentlemen chartered Spring Hill Cemetery for the sale of lots and marketed it as a modern final resting place. These directors drew up the rules of governing, maintaining and protecting the lots, monuments, and procedures of interment.
Times of Change
As the city grew, the population spread outward encompassing the surrounding counties. A modern downtown area with skyscrapers, city park systems, electric street cars, automobiles and entertainment centers made Nashville a thriving city in the early 1900s. In 1925, the Grand Ole Opry was born and Nashville would soon become known as Music City. Today several members of the Opry are interred and memorialized within the gates of historic Spring Hill.
Change accelerated with WWII. The war strengthened and rejuvenated the economy stimulating social change. Civil rights and the advent of radio and country music contributed to the freedom of expression. More industry arrived and contributed to the booming economy – banking, automobile manufacturing, printing and publishing, and government. Nashville emerged as the Athens of the South.
The Legacy of Visionary Citizens
Spring Hill Cemetery continued to grow – additional property was acquired and a system for record keeping was introduced as facilities expanded. J. Taylor Stratton, a prominent stockholder, businessman and civic leader, spearheaded the management and growth of Spring Hill for 30 years. He was an enthusiastic and dedicated member of the school board and he was responsible for developing the county high school system. J. Taylor Stratton School was named in his honor.
In 1934, Mary Stratton, Stratton’s daughter became president of the cemetery. Known as Miss Mary, she established new roads, statuary, plantings, and other improvements to the property. After her death her husband Dr. James Hayes, a beloved Nashville physician, managed the operations of Spring Hill Cemetery. In 1991 he stepped down to President Emeritus and turned operations over to his son Rev. Jim Hayes. Rev. Hayes, a well known member of the clergy, worked hard to fulfill his mother’s legacy and serve the community.
After Rev. Hayes’ sudden death in 1994 and Dr. Hayes’ death in 1996, the Rev. Hayes’ widow Marylyn Poteete Hayes and her daughters operated Spring Hill for many years. In the late 1990s they began working with funeral directors to design and construct a state of the art funeral home to better service their community.
Ground breaking occurred in June of 1997 and in 1998 the doors of Spring Hill Funeral Home were opened. The funeral home now stands on Spring Hill Cemetery’s north eastern border overlooking Gallatin Pike. As one of the largest funeral and cemetery providers in Nashville, and with its historic association with the community, Spring Hill continues to occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of Nashville’s citizens.
Today Spring Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery is one of the largest funeral and cemetery providers in Nashville, it’s wide open spaces dotted with majestic trees and beautiful flower gardens offer tranquility and beauty not only to the families it serves but to the community as a whole.
Our Valued Staff
Tara Jones Bessling, General Manager, Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer
Tara Bessling joined the Spring Hill staff 7 years ago and is the General Manager. She is a member of Long Hollow Baptist Church, the 2013 past president of the Madison Rivergate Chamber of Commerce, on the Board of Directors for King's Daughters Child Development Center and a member of the Tennessee Funeral Director's Association. Tara graduated from John A. Gupton Mortuary College with a degree in Mortuary Science and was previously in the funeral industry for 19 years. Tara is married to her husband Gary and they have two children Callie & Matthew. When we asked what attracted Tara to this field, She said: “As a child, I had wanted to be a part of the funeral industry, I feel it is a calling.” When asked to give the proudest moment in this profession Tara said: “The most important and rewarding part of my job is to help families through their darkest moments. It is an honor to work at Spring Hill and serve the families of middle Tennessee.”
Gretchen Skaggs, Sales Manager
Gretchen Skaggs joined the staff at Spring Hill in 2014 and has over twelve years experience serving families. Her career started in education and nursing, but she soon discovered that her true calling was in Family Service Counseling and Advanced Planning. Gretchen is a licensed pre-need agent, as well as a member of the American Nurses Association. She is an avid volunteer, supporting both Relay for Life and Autism Awareness.
Gretchen and her family moved to Hendersonville, TN in 2013. Gretchen's husband, Ronnie, works as an Account Specialist and her daughter, Cael, is a student at Hendersonville High School. She's a proud and active parent volunteer for Hendersonville High School's English, Art and Choir Programs.
When asked what attracted Gretchen to this field, she said: "I'm a talker, anyone who knows me would say so, but I'm also a great listener. When you're with a family that has lost someone they care about, someone they love, that's just what they need; someone to listen. It's an honor to provide those in need of our service's with dignity, respect, and compassion, but it's also a great responsibility. I'm privileged to be a caring presence during such a difficult time."
Samuel Brewer, Location Chapel Manager, Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer
Samuel joined our staff in August 2016 as a funeral director/embalmer. He is a native of Southeastern Kentucky and holds an active funeral director/embalmer's license in Kentucky also. He is a graduate of Mid-America College of Funeral Service. Samuel is married to Kelsie and they reside in Hendersonville. .
When asked why did you choose the funeral profession as a career, he replied, "I am living out my childhood dream. Since I was five years old, I have wanted to become a funeral director. My grandfather was a minister and I would shadow him when he would minister funerals; I would always pay attention to the strict detail that the funeral director would take part in. I have a great respect and love for people and enjoy helping them during their most tragic times of life.
"Everyday that I enter the doors of Spring Hill, I realize that this is much more than a job; being a funeral director is indeed a calling. I am honored to be able to be a part of a great group of professionals here at Spring Hill, who take serving each family to a whole new level and serve with dignity, professionalism, compassion and personalized service; after all, that's what we are called to do".
Jim Jones, Cemetery Superintendent & Grounds Manager
Jim Jones joined Spring Hill in the maintenance department 6 years ago and is the park Superintendent. Jim has 30 years of previous experience. When we asked what attracted Jim to this field, He said: “My daughter is employed here.”
Suzanne Angel-Griggs, Director of First Impressions
Suzanne was previously a letter carrier for the US postal service for 25 years. When we asked what attracted Suzanne to this field, She said: “I love people and consider it an honor to come a long beside them and help through the hardest moments of their lives.” Suzanne is the proud mom of four children and four grandchildren. She enjoys working with children , her garden, hiking and reading. When asked to give the proudest moment in this profession Suzanne said: “When you have helped a family through the visitation and funeral and they prepare to leave and feel like part of your family… when the final hugs and tears feel like the beginning of a friendship.”
Anne Harduk, Assistant Sales Manager
Anne and her husband, Steve, are recent transplants to the Nashville area. They have five grown children and two grandchildren. Anne began her career in the funeral and cemetery industry in 2009 and has helped thousands of families to protect their loved ones by planning ahead for life's worst day. She is excited to join the team at Spring Hill and continues serving the families of Nashville and the surrounding communities.
I chose this profession because I love to help people plan ahead to remove as much stress from their families as possible and to care for them as they walk through the planning and grieving process.
Donald Sharp, Family Service Supervisor
Born and raised in Savannah, TN..became licensed pre-need agent in 2009. I have been helping families every day since that day. I enjoy spending time with my son "Finn" every chance that I can. I am pleased to be a part of the Spring Hill team. Being in this profession allows me to really help a family before, during, and after the loss of a loved one.
Randy Watson, Funeral Director & Embalmer
Randy Watson, joined the Spring Hill staff in March of 2016 as a funeral director/embalmer. He is currently licensed in Texas and Oklahoma. Randy graduated from Texas Tech University with a BBA in Marketing as well as earning a degree in mortuary science from Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service.
Randy is married to Mickey and has four sons, 4 grandchildren, and 2 well-behaved dogs.
My calling to the funeral industry came later in life. I am most proud of developing on-going relationships with the families I have served and by creating memories which reflect a person's life.
I am blessed to be a part of the Spring Hill family and to be able to live the "Promise" and philosophy that is the guiding force at Spring Hill.
Alexandria Sibley, Funeral Director & Embalmer
Graduated from John A. Gupton Mortuary College with a degree in mortuary science. Alexandria has been in the funeral industry for 3 years with a focus on restorative arts.
Alexandria chose this profession as she feels like it's a calling. Being able to help families through some of the most difficult times they will face and give them the guidance they need in order to move on.
Scott Keel, Apprentice Funeral Director & Apprentice Embalmer
Scott Keel joined the Spring Hill staff 6 months ago and is a funeral director apprentice. He helped initiate and develop the community watch program in his neighborhood.
Scott is currently attending John A. Gupton College to complete his degree in Mortuary Science and was previously a supervisor for the organ and tissue recovery team in Ohio and Tennessee. When we asked what attracted Scott to this field, He said: “My grandfather passed away when I was young and I had a lot of questions about the next steps and when I was going to see him again, our local funeral home was owned and operated by a family friend who helped me to understand the next steps my family needed to take. It was then that I realized that I wanted to be a part of funeral service and help families during one of the most difficult times in their life, when a loved one passes away.”
Scott enjoys making improvements around his house and spending time with his three dogs. When asked to give the proudest moment in this profession Scott said: “Each family that I am able to serve gives me the greatest sense of pride knowing that I have done everything that I can to ease the pain when a loved one is lost.”
David Paul Thain, Family Service Counselor
David Thain joined the Spring Hill team January 2015 & has 2 yrs of experience in the profession.
David's mission is helping families create a memorable life celebration for their loved one. Helping people through difficult times in their lives. Really rewarding career offering compassion, support and guidance to others through challenging times. During my personal time I enjoy fitness, health & wellness, biking, hiking, yoga and cooking. I am also a musician, vocalist and pianist. Piano influences : Floyd Cramer, Jerry Lee Lewis Vocal influences: Elvis, Merle Haggard, Keith Whitley
Janice J. Linder, Family Service Counselor
I was born and raised in Southern California. I married there, gave birth to 5 wonderful children and am now the proud grandmother of 5 grandchildren with #6 on the way. While in California, I was a real estate professional, a broker, owner, & manager of 2 century 21 offices, escrow office, and closing agent. In 1994 we moved to Nashville, Tennessee to start over again after a huge real estate market crash.
I've chosen to be in this profession as I love people. I have the heart to serve. I've been through many losses in my life and I felt that I could connect with those who have suffered a loss of a family member or loved one. I've been on the other side handling the funeral and burial of families members who passed and were well prepared and others who were unprepared. I know the benefits of pre-need arrangements, and I know the pain of having to make decisions for a loved one with no-pre arrangements. Either way, I want to help as I love the heart and mission of Spring Hill. They are a family, community, and service oriented company. We share the same heart. I promise people I can help them at their greatest time of need and Springhill lets me do just that.
Jessica Beigert, Family Service Counselor
Born and raised in Jacksonville, FL..moved to Nashville in 2001. I spent 14 years working in the music industry but switched focus to build new relationships on the community level. She is happily married to Tony and they have 2 girls, 1 boy, and a grand baby. She enjoys her time off with her family. My heart loves working with families on their toughest day. It's simply my passion.
Bibiana Gutierrez, Family Service Counselor
Kathleen Cox, Community Service Counselor
Kathleen is a native of Kentucky but has lived in the greater Nashville area for over ten years. Kathleen currently resides in the Cool Springs area with her family. She has a thirteen-year-old daughter that keeps her on her toes but feels being a mother is her greatest accomplishment.
Kathleen has worked as both a pre-need arrangement counselor and a cemetery director and has been serving families since 2013. Kathleen felt drawn to the industry after the loss of her father. She feels that she uniquely understands the feelings from a consumer's perspective due to her own personal experiences. Helping families make prearrangement, and avoid the hardship she herself suffered, is her primary goal.
Sheryl Husband Whitbey, Community Outreach Director
My family consists of my mom, son, my sweetheart, 5 dogs, 5 cats, and a 63 Chevy step side named Rosey. I enjoy being active in the America Legion Auxiliary of which I have been a member for 53 years. I'm also a member of the order of the Eastern Star where I have served as Worthy Matron twice. I love helping others and making them happy. After 16 years in the Metro School Systems, I now love the peace and calmness I find working at Spring Hill Funeral Home.
I chose to be in this profession to let the public see that a funeral home & cemetery does not have to be a place full of bad memories, instead show how Spring Hill is here to meet the needs of each and every family member no matter how old or how young as they cope with the loss of a loved one. I want the community to see how Spring Hill cares about the community and its people.
Allen Riley, Staff Associate
Allen joined Spring Hill in May of 2015. He is a research specialist working with families to gather all pertinent documentation. The most important thing in Allen's life is Jesus Christ and his service to him. Allen's background consists of non-denominational evangelistic ministry. It is a privilege for Allen to conduct funeral services for families that do not have a minister or their minister is unavailable. Allen is confident in the power of the Lord God and humbly performs services at no charge to the funeral home or the family.
On his free time, Allen enjoys playing the guitar and keyboards for relaxation. He has over 40 years in the music business, which he is now retired from.
Susan McCoy, Administrative Assistant
Susan is originally from New Orleans, LA, and came to Nashville 10 years ago. She enjoys the funeral industry and being behind the scenes to help Spring Hill run smoothly. Susan loves everything there is to know about Nashville, including the music, the people, the city and its natural beauty. She has 3 children and 1 grandchild, who also moved to Tennessee and consider it home as well.
Sharmeia Buchanan, Administrative Assistant
Sharmeia “Shay” Buchanan started with Spring Hill in 2015 as an Administrative Assistant. Her love for helping people, and providing care, dedication and wholeheartedness to families during a difficult time in life is an inspiration to her. It started with her first call. After about 30 minutes, the young lady and her family came through the door crying and was embraced by Sharmeia, who promised to do her best to serve the family. The woman smiled with tears in her eyes. From that moment, Sharmeia knew she was in the right profession.
Shamique Munson, Administrative Assistant
I was born in Michigan and moved to Tennessee in 2005 with my mother, grandmother, and siblings. I have 8 siblings (2 live out of state) and 7 nieces and nephews that I love dearly and spend most of my free time doing/creating activities with them. They range from ages 8 years old to 1 1/2 years old.
I enjoy working with people and assisting others has always been a passion of mine. I started out working in customer service and eventually went to school for massage therapy in 2011-2012. I couldn't see myself doing anything that does not involve assisting others!
Tiffany Chambers, Administrative Assistant
Nicole Hicks, Staff Associate
Gregory Hines, Staff Associate
John Robert Bowman, Staff Associate
Lynda Phanco, Receptionist
Lynda Phanco is a Receptionist with Spring Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery. She is a people person. When someone loses a loved one, she recognizes that's when they need love and care the most. She considers it a privilege and an honor to be able to assist families in any way she can during times of grief.
Pamela R Nowlin, Cemetery Administrative Professional & Receptionist
Pamela Nowlin joined Spring Hill in the funeral department with 35 yrs of experience, 1 year ago and is the Cemetery Administrative Professional & Receptionist. Proudest moment in the profession is being able to say a comforting word to some of the bereaved families, with some of them coming back to say thank you and appreciate your kind words of comfort. I love to read and spend lots of time with my grand children. I have 10, 8 girls and 2 boys. In High school my dream was to become a funeral director in my small home town on Fayelteville, TN. Owner of my own funeral home.
Stephanie Downs, Clerical & Administrative Specialist
Is from Nashville, Tennessee. Has 3 children, Autumn 16, Alanah, 9 and Ace, 5. She is married to Michael who is a part of the Spring Hill family grounds crew. Is a Stratford High School Alumni, class of 99. In her free time, she loves spending time with family, going to movies, playing sports and gardening. There is such a reward in knowing you have helped someone in there time of need.
Rose Parker, Funeral Support
Rose Parker joined the Spring Hill staff 19 months ago and is in funeral support.
When we asked what attracted Rose to this field, She said: “It seemed like a good place to work a part-time job.” When asked to give the proudest moment in this profession Rose said: “At the end of visitation when when the family comes to you and tells you how much they appreciate us and that we've made this time easier.”
Carl Dunlap, Funeral Support
Donna Hoover, Funeral Support
Donna Hoover joined the Spring Hill staff. She is a member of Northside Church of Christ.
Donna previously held various factory jobs including General Electric and Pinkerton Tobacco Co. Donna retired from infant daycare after 22 years and still misses her babies! When we asked what attracted Donna to this field, She said: “I enjoy people and decided I may be able to help families at Spring Hill Funeral Home. My husband has been employed at Spring Hill for two plus years, so he encouraged me to join the team.” Donna is married to Bill and enjoys word games and community activities When asked to give the proudest moment in this profession Donna said: “Spring Hill is full of genuinely caring, wonderful people whom I enjoy working with very much.”
Bill Hoover, Funeral Support
Bill Hoover joined the staff at Spring Hill 2 years ago. He is a member of the Northside Church of Christ, volunteers at the Madison-Rivergate Area Chamber of Commerce, he also helps out with the Madison Station Music Jam each Friday. Bill was previously in sales. When we asked what attracted Bill to this field, He said: “I enjoy serving others and find assisting families in their greatest time of need here at Spring Hill, most rewarding.” Bill is married to Donna.
Jesse Houchin, Cemetery Foreman
Jesse Houchin joined Spring Hill in the maintenance department 18 ½ years ago and is a grounds crew foreman. When asked to give the proudest moment in this profession Jesse said: “Dealing with families.”
Chris Fenton, Grounds Crew
Chris Fenton joined Spring Hill in the maintenance department 4 years ago and is on the grounds crew. Chris has 13 years of previous experience. When we asked what attracted Chris to this field, He said: “A friend got me cutting grass.” When asked to give the proudest moment in this profession Chris said: “When I got my job here at Spring Hill!”
Michael Walker, Grounds Crew
Nathan Poole, Grounds Crew
Richard Staggs, Grounds Crew
Richard Staggs joined Spring Hill in the maintenance department 5 years ago and is on the grounds crew. Richard has 9 years of previous experience. When we asked what attracted Richard to this field, He said: “Being able to work outside.” When asked to give the proudest moment in this profession Richard said: “When I was able to rejoin my crew after surgery.”