The town of Cumberland, MD is full of history and 202 Greene Street is no exception! The original house on this site was built in the 1700’s. George Washington was said to have spent three days here, being entertained with lavish parties.
According to Loudermilk’s History, the first brick home in Cumberland was built on this site in the 1860’s by a Mr. McMahon. The bricks were brought up the C & O canal to the site. As with many Victorian homes, there were beautiful moldings, woodwork, fireplaces, and stained glass windows. Mr. McMahon, an attorney and author, had a child that died at a young age. One of the windows is a picture of his child.
This home was then used by Virgil Lemperer as a funeral home during the early 1900’s until his death. Meanwhile, Charles George, an undertaker from South Fork, PA, came to Cumberland in 1937 to purchase the John Wolford Funeral Home in downtown Cumberland. After eight years downtown, he moved the business to the current Greene Street location. As with many small town businesses, his family lived upstairs while the funeral business was conducted on the main floor of the home. Charles’ brother, H. Wayne George, joined him after his service in W.W.II. The two brothers continued to operate the business until October 1963, when Charles died of a heart attack.
Wayne, along with his son and staff, maintained the funeral home until the early 1980’s. On January 3, 1983, Gary and Wendy Upchurch, both licensed morticians from the Washington, D.C. area, bought the business from Mr. George. They operated under the name of George-Upchurch Funeral Home, P.A. In 1990, the building underwent renovations to better serve families. Larger viewing rooms, preparation room, arrangement office, casket selection room, and offices were included in the work. Since 1997, the business has operated as Upchurch Funeral Home, P.A.
In the summer of 1986, the couple was asked by the community of Fort Ashby, WV, if they were interested in setting up a funeral home. A home was available on the main road, Route 28, along with a gentleman willing to serve as the licensed director, David Rector. On January 5, 1987, The Fort Ashby Funeral Home, Inc. (later changed to Upchurch Funeral Home, Inc.) was opened. Within a few months, it was apparent a larger facility was needed. Gary Upchurch and John Lechliter, along with some friends, built an addition to the site.
Gary and Wendy Upchurch, along with their staff, continue to provide at-need and pre-need services to Cumberland, Fort Ashby, and the surrounding communities. In addition to funeral services, programs and workshops are presented to local college students, hospital staff, AARP, service clubs, etc. A variety of resource materials are available at both locations to assist families during their time of grief. Also, both funeral homes take time to remember loved ones during the December holiday season. A Memory Tree (in Cumberland) and a Remembrance Wreath (in Fort Ashby) are displayed with just white lights and white angels. Each angel has the name of a person for whom a service was performed during the year. The family is invited to see the display and take the angel as a keepsake.