When Lyle and Virginia Snodgrass arrived in South Charleston in 1936 from Clay, West Virginia, with their daughter, Nancy, Virginia was a registered nurse working at Dunn’s Hospital. They had $3.50 and an old Ford auto that had been made into a hearse. They went to the First National Bank of South Charleston and were granted a loan of $4,000.00 with the promise to stay in South Charleston. Snodgrass Funeral Home was begun with a handshake and a promise. The old house on Eastern Avenue, now MacCorkle Avenue, was bought and business began. At the same time, Lawrence Haggerty opened his insurance agency, along with Ballengee’s Drug Store, Harrison’s Gas Station and Poe’s Garage – the corner was complete.
Founder Lyle M. Snodgrass and his wife, Virginia, were joined in the funeral business by his brother, William M. Snodgrass, two years later, as well as his parents, W.H. and Jesse Snodgrass. Lyle and Bill, both South Charleston High School graduates, completed their studies at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and were considered among the best in their field from West Virginia. In 1962, the funeral home was moved to its present location at 4122 MacCorkle Avenue, across from Sunset Memorial Park.
Two years after Lyle’s death in 1966, Virginia took over the day to day operations in the business and in 1970, Marion, her husband John, and their two children, L.J. and Courtney, moved back home from Charlotte, North Carolina. John Fairless began his apprenticeship that year with Marion, working in the office as well with Virginia. After earning his degree in Mortuary Science from Cincinnati, John was an integral part of the funeral home until 1979, when he and Marion divorced.
In 1986, L.J. Fairless began working in the family business with his mother and grandmother, following a somewhat brief career in radio after college at Marshall University. Five years later, alzheimer’s and cancer ravaged the Snodgrass’s, putting the fourth generation of the family to be a part of this profession at the helm. In 1995, four years after their diagnosis, both Virginia and Marion died six weeks apart. L.J. purchased the remaining shares of the business and property from his aunt, Nancy, and his sister, Courtney, and immediately began the first of two major renovations that would eventually take place.
L.J., his wife, Lia, and their two children, Ben and Francesca, are the fourth and fifth generation to reside in the family home on the Kanawha River. Snodgrass Funeral Home is proud to be a part of the fabric in this wonderful community we call home. Serving the great people of this valley is not only an honor, it’s a privilege and we don’t take it for granted.