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Our History

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"Upholding high standards of service to the bereaved."

Hamlett-Dobson has been a trusted family business since 1916—back when Kingsport was a small but fast-growing farming community. Maintaining the ideals of its founders, our staff of more than 30 individuals continues to serve the community with empathy and integrity. Explore the timeline to learn more about our history. 

1915 - Local personality J. Fred Johnson recruits James (Jim) Hamlett, Sr.—manager of a store that held funeral services in Clarksville, Tennessee—to manage funeral services for "the Big Store," Kingsport's largest department store at the time.  

1916 - Hamlett's wife, Maude, and their four children (Clifton, Elizabeth, Clara, and Jim, Jr.) take their first train ride to join Hamlett in Kingsport.

1916 ~ 1919 - Hamlett, often accompanied by his children, travels throughout the Kingsport community to get acquainted with other area families. These beautiful walks through the countryside are some of daughter Clara's favorite childhood memories. 

1919 - Lawrence ("Jimmie") W. Dobson returns home from WWI and, at age 27, joins Hamlett in the undertaking department of the Big Store. With Hamlett's guidance, Dobson establishes his path as funeral director after attending the Gupton Jones School of Mortuary Sciences in Nashville.  

1926 - Committed to the belief that the funeral home should stand alone in its service to the community, Hamlett and Dobson purchase the undertaking department from the Big Store for $3,200 and move their partnership to the downtown location of Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Home near Church Circle.  

1931 - Dobson marries Emma Lou McIllwain, a Kingsport schoolteacher from Parsons, Tennessee. They raise two children, John and Emily. 

1948 - James (Jim) Hamlett, Sr., dies. Hamlett was a member of the First Christian Church and was one of the founders of the Kingsport Lodge #688 F. & A.M. 

1952 - Hamlett-Dobson establishes a funeral home in Fall Branch. 

1961 - With a master's degree and several years of business experience, Dobson's son-in-law Harold W. Childress joins the family business. In keeping with Hamlett-Dobson's philosophy of service, he initiates Kingsport's first program of grief support.  

1970 - Shortly after returning from military service, Bob Childress joins the family firm. 

1970 - Hamlett-Dobson establishes a Grief Resource Center and Grief Support Program. 

1975 - Hamlett-Dobson establishes a funeral home in Colonial Heights.

1983 - Lawrence W. "Jimmie" Dobson dies. Dobson was voted citizen of the year by the local Civitan Club in 1968 and served as the Grand Marshall of Kingsport's Fourth of July Parade in 1977. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church.

1992 - A graduate of the John A. Gupton College of Mortuary Science in Nashville, Harold Childress' son-in-law Chad Correll joins the Hamlett-Dobson staff. 

2001 - Having worked part-time with the firm beginning in 1993, Larry Childress, Harold Childress's son, joins the administrative staff on a full-time basis.

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