WHL (Billy) Williams, a trained Undertaker and Cabinetmaker with Wharmby & Williams Ltd, directed Wharmby & Williams Ltd first funeral service on 2nd November 1920, a burial in Waipukurau Cemetery, for the princely sum of £19-2s-6d. The majority of the early deaths were Military personnel who died at the then TB Sanatorium on Pukeora Hill. In 1948 Messers Wharmby & Williams retired and sold their shareholding to the existing staff members who were prepared and able to purchase them.
Mr Williams’ son Charlie carried on funeral directing assisted by another shareholder and foreman of the joinery factory, Jim Fleming. When Charlie Williams died suddenly in 1966 Jim Fleming took over the Management of the funeral department assisted by David Annand. Jim’s son Peter joined the firm in 1978 and on Jim’s retirement in 1981 carried on the funeral business. Shortly after this, Wharmby & Williams (1948) Ltd was sold to Peter and Sharon Fleming who formed Fleming Funeral Services at its present site in Peel Street.
After a restructure in 1990, Peter and Sharon formed Central Hawke's Bay Funeral Services Ltd. Chris & Joy Reid and Denis Hames joined the Company as Shareholders and Company Directors. In 1993 Monumental Services was established with the aim of providing a locally operated headstone and memorial service to Central Hawke's Bay. This branch of the Company now boasts a fantastic workshop/showroom in Waipukurau as well as showrooms in Napier and Hastings. The changing trends in funerals also prompted the building of a 200 seat chapel at Peel Street.
This new facility incorporates catering, projection, recording and sound equipment required for modern day funeral services.
Peter retired in 2014 and ensured that CHB Funeral Services remained locally owned and operated, in fact the values of local ownership has further strengthened our community. Nichola (Nic) Hayes has taken over the Management of the Funeral Department, and Nicola (Nicki) Reisima the Management of the Monumental Department. Both hold shares and are Company Directors.
Peter and Sharon still retain a shareholding in the Company but do so knowing that the standards set around 100 years ago by Mr Billy Williams will be maintained well into the future.