History & Staff

We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.

Our History

Our History

Nicholson Funeral Home is a landmark in downtown Statesville. Now housed in a stately 1901 colonial revival home on East Front Street, its history goes back to 1850. It was then that the William Thomas Nicholson family settled on Hunting Creek, north of Harmony. They had traveled from New Jersey to open a gristmill. Some 28 years later, the Nicholson's, along with the Jennings and White families, began to make and sell caskets at the general stores they operated throughout northern Iredell County. As was common in the late 1800s, many undertakers were also furniture makers, and the Nicholson's continued to sell caskets and conduct funerals in their furniture store when they moved to Statesville. At the time, a casket’s price was based on the wood used and its size—probably between $25 and $35 for an adult casket. W.T. Nicholson moved the funeral home into its current location in 1920, and he remained its owner until his death in 1951. “Many of Mr. Nicholson’s descendants have remained in our community, even to this day.

Lonnie G. Turner, Sr. and his family bought the funeral home from Mr. Nicholson before he died. During that time, and until 1991, Marvin and Louise Raymer managed the business for Mr. Turner. When Lonnie Turner died, Nicholson Funeral Home went into his family estate, which was managed by his daughter, Mary Turner Gilliam. Mrs. Gilliam, like her father before her, and her husband, Mr. L.S. (Bill) Gilliam, Jr., were benevolent caretakers to Statesville, their church, friends and strangers alike. In 1983, in keeping with her father’s wishes that his business be sold to a local family who would carry on his philosophy of “family serving family., The Troutman/Strandburg family became Nicholson’s third family of owners in all of its 131 years. “Mary Gilliam was like a guardian angel. She gave us the opportunity to help others and to follow in her father’s footsteps.  Mrs. Gilliam trusted the new owners to continue her father’s strong traditions.”

  • Bill Brater

    Bill Brater, President

    Bill Brater is a graduate of the University Of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati College Of Mortuary Science. He is currently in his 45h year of funeral service. He and his wife Linda, live in Troutman and he has one son and three grandchildren. He has been awarded the Citizen Of the Year by the Greater Statesville Chamber Of Commerce, has served as that organization’s President, as well as serving formerly as President of the board of directors of Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County and the United Way of Statesville and the Statesville Jaycees. He is a former two term member of the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board Of Education and currently serves on the Iredell County Board Of Adjustments. He is a member of the Greater Statesville Rotary Club and serves on the board of Iredell Memorial Hospital. He is a past campaign chair for the United Way of Iredell County and formerly served on the S.C.A.N. board of directors as well as the American Red Cross and the former North Iredell Unit Of The American Cancer Society.

  • Tommy Nesbit

    Tommy Nesbit, Funeral Director

    Tommy Nesbit is a native of Iredell County and started his career with Nicholson Funeral Home in 2000. He is a graduate of Iredell County Schools and received an Associates in Applied Science in computer information technology from Mitchell Community College and also received his diploma in Funeral Directing from Fayetteville Technical Community College. He is currently working towards his associates degree in funeral service education. Tommy is married to April Nesbit and has three children and five grandchildren. He has the wonderful task of raising two rambunctious boys, Jaxon and Gavin. Tommy has two boxer dogs, Newton & Lexi, who run the house. He is a member of Front Street Baptist Church and works as a volunteer in computer support as well as on the security team and nursery. "I love what I do. Helping people in the most difficult time in their lives is the most satisfying and rewarding gift anyone can be blessed to do."

  • J.Burr Fraley

    J.Burr Fraley, Funeral Director & Embalmer

    Born and raised in Statesville. Graduated from Catawba College and moved to Texas to work as a Surveyor in Gas and Oil Exploration. Moved back to Statesville with my Texas bride, Guylyn. Took early retirement from Freightliner and changed my career going to work for Nicholson Funeral Home. My wife and I live on a farm in West Iredell. We try to spend our free time camping, fishing and enjoying life in the outdoors.

  • B Legrand Payne

    B Legrand Payne, Funeral Director, Licensed Pre-Need Insurance Agent

    Legrand was born in Alexander Co but has lived most of his life in Iredell County. He graduated from Appalachian State University and he retired from the Iredell Statesville School after 31 years in public school. Following his retirement, he earned his funeral directors license and has worked for 25 years, mostly at Nicholson Funeral Home. He is married to JoAnn Morrison Payne and has three adult sons, David, Joe, and Jeff along with six grandchildren.

  • Alana Henderson

    Alana Henderson, Funeral Director/Advance Planning Specialist/Aftercare Specialist

    [email protected]

  • Wayne Stikeleather

    Wayne Stikeleather, Funeral Assistant

    Wayne is a native of Statesville and has remained here his entire life. He graduated from Cool Spring High School and is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He is married to Naomi Teague Stikeleather and has been so for 64 years and counting. Wayne has been with the Nicholson family of nearly 20 years and continues to help when needed.

  • Richard Kimball

    Richard Kimball, Funeral Assistant

    Richard was raised in Harmony NC and he began his career at the age of 16 and has been in the funeral service for over 40 years. He has worked with Nicholson Funeral Home for the past 25 years. His hobbies include study of American History and fishing. His reason for choosing the funeral service was his admiration to help people in what is the most difficult time in ones life.

  • Dave Nyquist

    Dave Nyquist, Funeral Assistant

  • Tony Cook

    Tony Cook, Funeral Assistant

  • Jim VanZee

    Jim VanZee, Funeral Assistant

    Jim and his wife Nedra have been married for forty-nine years. They have been blessed with two children and four grandchildren. They have enjoyed living in Statesville and being members of First Baptist Church for over 40 years. Jim enjoys watching sports, playing golf, and being with my family.

  • Earnest Galliher

    Earnest Galliher, Funeral Assistant

  • Andrew Pierce

    Andrew Pierce, Funeral Service Apprentice

    My name is Andrew Pierce and I have lived in the city of Statesville most of my life. I have chosen to work at Nicholson Funeral Home because God and my faith have led me here to give back to a community that has given so much to me. I love my job here at the funeral home and I could not imagine doing anything else.
    Here is a little bit about myself for those of you who may not know me. I am a graduate of UNC Greensboro with a bachelors degree in communications and a minor in the arts. I first started college at Wingate University where I played varsity soccer for the Bulldogs. I started out as an art major and when I transferred to UNCG, I changed my major to communications. After praying many nights and being shown many signs, I was led to the funeral service. I knew right away that this was my calling to be a funeral director and help families in their time of need. I hope I get to stay in this field of work for the rest of my life because not only do I love this community, but I love my job.
    God is always number 1 in my life and always will be so my faith is very important to me too. I’m a simple man that loves his job and his faith and family and that pretty much sums me up. Thank you so much for trusting me with your loved ones and I promise to always give you my best.

  • Pastor James Lewis

    Pastor James Lewis, Funeral Assistant

    James Lewis is a native of Statesville and is a graduate of North Iredell High School. In 1992 he married his best friend Melanie and together they have two daughters and one son. "Our home is truly blessed." "At age 30, God began to call me to begin a very special work in the Statesville, NC area. At age 32, I left my full-time job to fulfill God’s call. Since that day, God has blessed and increased our lives as well as this ministry." James has been with the Nicholson family since 2018.

  • Michele Bowes

    Michele Bowes, Administration Assistant

    Michele joined the Nicholson family in March of 2019.
    I have been married for 29 years with two wonderful children. I enjoy gardening the outdoors and have a great love for animals.

  • Kaylee Varner

    Kaylee Varner, Funeral Service

    Kaylee was born in Wake County and grew up in Franklinton, NC until 2005, when her family then moved to Newton, NC. She attended Fred T. Foard High school where she graduated from in 2009. She then went on to Cosmetology school, became a licensed hair dresser and then went into funeral school. She joined into the funeral business in September 2012. She married her best friend, Cody, in May of 2016. They have a mini farm along with four spoiled fur babies, Rylee, Marlee and Maggee and cow, Monkey. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, canning, cuddling to watch movies and crocheting her blanket.

  • Angie Hall

    Angie Hall, Funeral Service & Accounts Receivable/Payable

    Angie Hall is a 1998 graduate of Davie High School and a 2007 graduate with an Associates in Arts Funeral Service from Fayetteville Tech. Angie has worked in the funeral industry for over 16 years and is blessed to be part of the Nicholson team. She is a licensed Heath and Life Agent and holds a notary license with the state of North Carolina. She has two sons, Bailey and Branden. Fur babies, Max and Charlotte and “Baby Bird”.

Our Valued Staff