The Kistler-Hardee History

In the second week of February, John Harry Kistler of Charlotte, North Carolina, came into town and quickly set up shop in the back of an old two-story wooden store building on the southeast corner of Darlington's Public Square.

On the 12th of February, 1922, Kistler Funeral Home was born.

Who was John Harry Kistler?

J. H. Kistler served in France as a Sergeant in the US Army Medical Corps during World War I where his primary job was transporting the wounded and the dead.

After the war, he decided to continue in this field and attended Brown's Embalming School (Raliegh, NC) in 1919 and 1920. He then transferred to Worsham's School of Anatomy, Sanitary Science and Embalming (Chicago, IL), where he graduated in June, 1921.

Following graduation and before coming to Darlington in 1922, he was employed for a short time at Whitner Funeral Home in Bennettsville, SC.

A Darlington Business on the Move

After several years at the original location on the Public Square, Kistler Funeral Home moved into a rented building on the corner of Pearl and Dargan Streets.

In 1931 Kistler constructed a new building at 122 Dargan Street and became the first funeral home in the Pee Dee area of the state.

Three years later, in April of 1934, Kistler Funeral Home became incorporated and continued to operate the Dargan Street location until the building burned in May, 1942.

June of 1942 then saw Kistler move his business into its present location. Situated at the the corner of Pearl Street and Edwards Avenue, and known locally as the McCown House, it is believed to be the oldest house in Darlington.

The Son Joins the Family Business

The Jeffords — Kistler Connection

Ethel Jeffords Kistler (wife of founder J. H. Kistler) was the daughter of a local merchant named Thomas Calhoun Jeffords. "T. C.", as he was called, was also a funeral director, although, in those days the funeral director merely furnished the casket and rented the family a horse-drawn hearse. (Incidentally, you may wish to note that Ethel's son was also called "T. C.", after her father, whose picture can be found hanging in our main office.)

T. C. Jeffords' funeral service eventually grew to include the use of a Model-T hearse and plans were being made to merge the Jefferson and Kistler funeral firms. However, just a few short months before the merger would have taken place, Jeffords died on February 28, 1923. Legend has it that he got pneumonia after getting wet while serving as a pallbearer at a friend's funeral.

Our Strength is in Our People

Over the years, many fine people have been employed by the Kistler firm. At the risk of leaving someone out, most notable of the longtime employees include B. E. Parnell, Carlisle Rogers, Cole Davis, Marion Belk, Merle Baxley, Jimmy Moody, Billy McClary, Ron Schuler, John Holmes, Rick Matthews, Eddie Fields, Todd Hardee, and Dan Buchanan.

On January 1, 1999, J. Todd Hardee and his wife, Jenny, assumed ownership of the firm and the original name was appended to become "Kistler-Hardee" Funeral Home. Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home continues to rely on the strength of its people and the trust the community has placed in the institution for nearly one hundred years.

Our Valued Staff

  • J Todd Hardee

    J Todd Hardee, Owner/Funeral Director

    Hello, friend. My name is Todd Hardee and I am the owner of Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home.

    Having worked under the tutelage of the Kistler family for more than 20 years, my wife and I purchased the business on January 1, 1999. On that special day, I accomplished one of my lifelong goals and fulfilled a promise I made to T.C. Kistler many years ago.

    You see, family ownership is important to us... and we know from experience that it is also important to you.

    Although the Kistler family has now passed away, their legacy lives on at Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home. In Darlington County, we are the rock that more than 14,000 families have leaned upon in their time of greatest need. The principles that founded this firm nearly one hundred years ago are the bedrock upon which we will continue to serve you and your family in the years to come.

  • Brad  Griggs

    Brad Griggs, Assistant Funeral Director

    Brad has been apart of Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home since May of 2008. He was born in Darlington, SC and was raised in Hartsville, SC in the Byrd Town Community. Brad is the son of Jackie Lynn Griggs and the late Eugene Griggs of Hartsville. He is married to Stacy Carraway Griggs of Effingham and they have two children, Chandler and Cole. They reside in Darlington and attended Effingham Church of God in Effingham, SC.

  • Wilbur H. Vaughan

    Wilbur H. Vaughan, Business Manager

  • Orville  Anderson

    Orville Anderson, Staff Assistant

  • Eddie  Miller

    Eddie Miller, Maintenance Supervisor

    Eddie has been apart of the staff at Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home 2001. He maintains all of the upkeep of the funeral home, tents, fleet, and landscaping.

  • Cora  Taylor

    Cora Taylor, Greeter

  • Ken Weatherford

    Ken Weatherford, Assistant Funeral Director

    Ken Weatherford is a great addition to the staff of Kistler Hardee Funeral Home. He was born in Florence, SC and is a native of Darlington, SC. He is the son of Elizabeth Weatherford Gregory and the late James E. Weatherford. Ken is married to Karen Poston Weatherford and they have a daugther, Kelly Weatherford Lloyd of Hartsville, SC and a granddaugther, Paisley Lloyd of Hartsville, SC. Ken and his family attend St. Luke United Methodist Church in Hartsville, SC.