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?

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.

Incidentally, JH Kistler served as the county coroner for 28 years. He was the longest serving coroner in the history of the county. J Todd Hardee has served near 20 and intends on serving longer than Kistler!  

A Darlington Business on the Move

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, Harry Kistler moved 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.

T.C. Kistler Joins the Family Business

T.C. Kistler Joins the Family Business

T.C. was the son of J.H. Kistler, who was the founder of the firm. After the death of his father, T.C. and his mother, Ethel Jeffords Kistler operated the firm. Mrs. Kistler died in the 1960's. T.C. was very active in the community but his mission in life was public education. He served on the Darlington County School Board and later the South Carolina State Board of Education. He and wife, Vera were also recipients of The Order of The Palmetto. 

The Jeffords — Kistler Connection

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 Jeffords' 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

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, Merle Baxley, Jimmy Moody, Billy McClary, Ron Schuler, John Holmes, Rick Matthews, Eddie Fields, Todd Hardee, and Dan Buchanan. (Left to Right: Dan Buchanan, TC Kistler, John Theodore Holmes, and J Todd Hardee circa 1980)

On January 1, 1999, J Todd Hardee and 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.

From Then Until Now

  • J Todd Hardee

    J Todd Hardee, Owner/Funeral Director

    J Todd Hardee is the President of Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home. He began his career in funeral service in the late 1970's here at Kistler's. Todd learned the funeral business from the late T.C. Kistler and continues many of the customs set forth by the Kistler family. Todd and wife Jenny Sandifer Hardee have two boys: Templin and wife Jennifer Seago Hardee, and Sandy and wife Talon. Todd and Jenny have two grandchildren, Jayce Hardee and Kistler Hardee. He is a graduate of Gupton-Jones College and Liberty University. Todd is the current Coroner of Darlington County and has been for seven consecutive elected terms.

  • Jenny Hardee

    Jenny Hardee

    Jenny and Todd Hardee are the owners of the funeral home. Jenny is a graduate of The Medical University of South Carolina. She has been associated with McLeod Regional Medical Center for many years. She is currently the CEO of McLeod Dillon.

  • Brad  Griggs

    Brad Griggs, Assistant Funeral Director

    Brad has been a part 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 four children, Chandler, Cole, Grayson, and little Miss Bella. Brad and Stacy, and the children, are very active in the Effingham Church of God.

  • Sandy Hardee

    Sandy Hardee, Assistant Funeral Director

    Sandy and wife Talon live in Darlington. They are members of Trinity United Methodist Church. Talon is a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse at McLeod Regional Medical Center. Sandy is a graduate of Francis Marion University, Piedmont Technical College of Funeral Service, and Clemson University. Go Tigers!

  • Jimmie L. Hardee

    Jimmie L. Hardee

    Jimmie is Todd's brother. He is a graduate of St. John's High School and Francis Marion University. Jimmie has been associated with the firm for over 40 years. He has two girls, Merritt and husband Shaun Wallace, and Sarah and her husband, Jay Chapman. They all live in Darlington County.

  • Jim and Bille Hardee

    Jim and Bille Hardee, Consultants

    Jim and Billie are responsible for most of this crew. Having operated the Billie Hardee Home for Boys for more than 40 years, they are now retired. They can be found around the funeral home keeping an eye on things most every day. Their list of accolades are extensive, but The Order of The Palmetto and the Darlington County Lifetime Achievement Award are a couple that come to mind. Footnote: Daddy died on January 23, 2022, and Momma died three months later. I miss them every day.

  • Jayce T. Hardee

    Jayce T. Hardee, The Boss

    Jayce is an aspiring funeral director. At the moment he is simply "The Boss". He is currently a scholar at Cain Elementary School where he is Valedictorian of his class.

  • Kistler Jeffords Hardee

    Kistler Jeffords Hardee, The Boss, Jr.

    Kistler is a student at Cain Elementary School. She is extremely intelligent and is often called upon by her companions for wisdom and advice. She loves to do gymnastics, and fight.

  • Orville Anderson

    Orville Anderson, Community Board Member and Consultant

    Orville Anderson and wife, Carolyn are lifelong residents of Darlington. He is a member of The First Church of God. Orville has represented Woodmen Insurance for over 50 years.

  • Templin Hardee

    Templin Hardee, Assistant Funeral Director (Jayce and Kistler's Daddy)

    Templin joined the family business in 2019, after a prosperous career at Sonoco Products. He can be found most days at our restaurant, South of Pearl.

  • Jennifer Seago Hardee

    Jennifer Seago Hardee, Office Assistant/Manager South of Pearl

    Jennifer is married to Templin, and is the mother of the most beautiful grandchildren on earth! She hails from Swift Creek, and is the daughter of Darwin and Angie Seago. Jennifer is a Deputy Coroner and is the office manager of the Coroner's office.

  • Perry Kelly

    Perry Kelly

    Perry also works for the City of Darlington Fire Department where he serves as Captain and Chaplain. He and his family are members of Dovesville Church of God where Perry also serves as Associate Pastor.

  • Doug Simmons

    Doug Simmons

    Doug is our Chaplain. He lends his hand to many families we serve before, during, and after the service. He volunteers as a first responder on many levels in Darlington County and is a full-time hospice Chaplain.

  • Linzie Steele Batchelor

    Linzie Steele Batchelor

    Linzie is our Marketing Director. She grew up in Hartsville where she graduated from Hartsville High School. She was also Miss Hartsville back in the day!

  • Bryant McRae

    Bryant McRae

    Bryant is the Associate Pastor at Central Baptist Church. He helps us in his spare time. He works funerals and he offers ministerial support to the families we serve.