U ninterrupted operation at the original location and under the same business name since 1851 is the unique distinction of the Murray-Fettro Funeral Home, which is recognized as the oldest active business in Greenfield.
James M. Murray founded the funeral home in 1851 at the corner of Jefferson and Fourth Streets. Murray had two sons who grew up in the business and went on to become funeral directors. The elder Murray's son, also named James M. Murray, received his professional schooling in Cincinnati, having originally intended to pursue a medical career. However, he subsequently learned the funeral directing trade and went on to become one of Greenfield's most beloved citizens. His brother Oscar Worth Murray operated a funeral home in Hope, Arkansas.
The elder Murray operated the funeral home until his death on March 28, 1901. By then his son James M. Murray was quite experienced in the business and he assumed management and operation of the funeral home. He recalled having conducted his first funeral on August 19, 1874 when he was just 10 years old!
During a career that continued until his death in 1946, James Murray became one of the best known funeral directors in the state of Ohio. "Possibly no other man was so universally known and, in turn, knew so many of Greenfield's people in the span of his lifetime," the Greenfield Times said upon his death.
Murray helped his business make the transition into modern times. The horse-drawn hearse gave way to the motorized version, and some aspects of funeral services changed as society moved through various phases. Through it all, Murray and his staff emphasized service, understanding and comfort for the grieving families who were being served.
Ralph L. Clyburn entered the employ of the funeral home on October 26, 1935 and became manager several years later when Mr. Murray's health began to fail. Mr. Murray passed away in April of 1946 after serving as a mentor to Ralph Clyburn, who purchased the business early in 1947.
Out of respect for the Murray family, Ralph Clyburn left the name of the business unchanged. Just as two generations of Murrays ran the funeral home, so it was with the Clyburn family. Ralph’s sons Dane and Phil joined him in the business and eventually purchased the funeral home from their father. Both brothers worked there while still in high school. Dane joined the business in 1963 and Phil came back to the firm in 1975 after several years as a teacher at McClain High School.
The Clyburns made continuous improvements in the business and upgraded the property during the period of their ownership. The funeral home was capable of accommodating large and small funerals, and the owners and staff members provided comfort, counsel and service to thousands of area families.
Another part of the funeral directing business prior to the mid-1970s involved ambulance services for area residents. The Clyburn family did their part, often transporting patients to and from hospitals and nursing homes in Columbus and other communities. The Clyburns were actively involved in the creation of the Greenfield Area Life Squad.
At length the Clyburn brothers decided to sell the business, and Heath H. Fettro purchased the Murray Funeral Home on April 10, 1998.
In keeping with state law, the name of the funeral home was changed to Murray-Fettro in April 2000.
Fettro, who grew up on a farm in the Rocky Fork Lake area, studied interpersonal communication at Ohio University and received his mortuary training at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. Like the Clyburns and Murrays, he got involved in the mortuary business at an early age, having worked at the Rhoads-Edgington Funeral Home in Hillsboro and Mowrystown as a high school student. After receiving his training and doing apprenticeships at the Gerstner-Kinzer Funeral Home in Washington C.H. and the Turner & Son Funeral Home in Hillsboro, Leesburg and Lynchburg, Fettro was certain that he wanted to put down roots in a rural community. He is grateful for having the opportunity to practice his chosen profession in Greenfield.
Heath and the staff at Murray-Fettro Funeral Home look forward to serving the citizens of the Greenfield area.
The Murray-Fettro Funeral Home is located at 380 Jefferson Street in Greenfield.