A Handshake From the Past 1

Groce Funeral Home’s Legacy

With seemingly endless construction in downtown Asheville and the area’s booming business, many are considering the prosperous future of the metropolitan area. Although economic promise and thriving commerce is vital to any city, it’s equally as important to consider Asheville’s past. Groce Funeral Homes, a dedicated local business since 1929, reminds us what it means to be part of the Asheville community then and now.

“This was an era when business was sealed by a handshake,” remembers Dale Groce, director and co-owner.

Generations ago, Dale and Bill’s fathers and uncles—Bill Sr., Fred and Bob Groce—provided funeral services for their neighbors and clients from a white frame building that didn’t look too different from the other homes on Haywood Road. Funerals were community affairs. The men would dig graves by hand, and a smorgasbord of neighbor’s dishes would crowd the tables to comfort the bereaved. Community, comfort and person-to-person service: these are the principles that Groce Funeral Home was founded on, and continues to operate on today.

Asheville and Groce have both grown over the years. Now 800 families a year contact Groce for the services provided by their locations in Arden, East Asheville and West Asheville. To ensure quality service in a changing profession, Groce joined the NC Funeral Directors Association, the National Funeral Directors Association and the Selected Independent Funeral Homes Organization.

Not only has Groce kept up with the growing population, but also that population’s needs, including national and international transfers, cremations and pre-planning services. Conscious of the environmental concerns of the community (especially a community as aware as Asheville), the Groce family has accommodated biodegradable caskets and an exclusion of chemicals in a service known as “Green Burials.”

After 87 years of business in Asheville, Groce now returns the favor by giving back to local neighborhood organizations. Eblen Charities, Hope Chest for Women, Asheville firefighters, Eliada Home and VFW Post 891 (just to name a few) have all received support from Groce. With the continued city-wide investment in commercial real estate, Asheville’s future growth is certain, and Dale Groce is confident that his family will be there every step of the way.

“The fourth generation of Groces [Scott Groce and Trey Groce] assures family management and dedication well into the future,” he notes with a warm smile.

From their modest start on Haywood Road, Groce Funeral Home has accumulated a fleet of vehicles, three locations and a staff of trained professionals. As cranes erect new hotels and the average customer is bombarded with sleek touchscreens, Groce and his family won’t hesitate to remind us of the comfort behind a handshake.