The year was 1913. Mr. H.B. Wilkinson from Concord, NC came to the newly organized unincorporated town of Kannapolis, just 4 miles north, to open a furniture store. At this time in our history, a persons' family handled all of the burial arrangements; therefore a place to purchase caskets was needed. As a sideline business to the sale of furniture, Mr. Wilkinson added wooden caskets to the other furniture merchandise that he offered. He named his business H.B. Wilkinson Furniture and Undertaking Company, and it was located on Main Street in the center of town in a building leased from Cannon Mills Company.
In 1918, W.H. Whitley, Sr., also from Concord, NC, joined Mr. Wilkinson in the furniture and undertaking company in Kannapolis. As the years progressed, the services of the furniture company employees expanded to handle death calls and planning funerals. Ambulance service was added as a necessary part of the service of the company. In 1920, Mr. Whitley advanced to manager of the Kannapolis location, and, in 1923, the business was incorporated as Whitley, Wilkinson Furniture and Undertaking Company.
In 1938, Mr. Whitley bought full interest in the company renaming the business "W.H. Whitley & Sons, Inc." The company was operated by Mr. Whitley and his two older sons, Ralph and Fred. Over the next years the business relocated to other Cannon properties on West Avenue for a period of time until moving to the corner of South Main Street and Cabarrus Hall Drive in 1940.The company remained there for the next 46 years.
In 1946, W.L. (Bill) Whitley, Sr., just out of military service from World War II joined his father. Older brothers Ralph and Fred had other business ventures in their futures and left the funeral business in the 1940's. Bill quickly advanced in the company throughout the next three decades to become manager and eventually president/treasurer of the company.
In the 1960's, the company adopted the name "Whitley's Funeral Home," and Bill's vision to increase business opportunities lead the firm to remodel and expand their facility. Again, during the 1970's, the company was remodeled and expanded, adding a glass foyer to the front of the building. In 1986, the company abandoned its 73 year lease arrangement with Cannon Mills Company and built a new facility to serve the growing needs of the newly incorporated city of Kannapolis.
Beginning in 1971, the third generation of Whitley's began working in the family business. Son, W.L. (Whit) Whitley, Jr., joined the company part-time in 1971 and full time in 1979. Then in 1981, another son, David, and in 1990, daughter Jane joined the company.
Today, David and his sister, Jane operate the funeral home. Throughout the years, numerous employees have given their time, talents and dedication to the ideals of personal family funeral service. We have and continue to be committed to continuing the long-standing tradition of dedication and excellence to the people of Cabarrus and Rowan counties.