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Our Staff


Our dedicated and supportive staff are here to guide you through this difficult journey. We take pride in doing our absolute best to ensure your needs are met. We are here for you.

Robert W. Barnes

A native of Watauga County, Bob has been in funeral service since 1968. A graduate of Cincinnati College of Embalming, Bob also holds an Associates Degree in Business Administration from Caldwell Community College. He is a licensed funeral director, embalmer, pre-need specialist, certified crematory operator and a notary public. Bob lives in Boone with his wife Vivian. Bob is a member of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, and the Knights of Columbus.


Bruce Shomaker

A native of Banner Elk (Avery County) Bruce originally served his funeral apprenticeship (1986) with and returned to Austin & Barnes in 2014. Prior to his return, he served (more than 25 years for) the funeral industry in Virginia. Bruce is a 1988 graduate of the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and holds an Associates Degree in Mortuary Science, is a licensed funeral director, embalmer, and pre-need specialist, and certified crematory operator. He resides in Banner Elk with his wife Kelley. Together, they have three daughters, four grandsons and two granddaughters.


Tessie Rudel

Graduated Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service in Houston, Texas with an Associates Degree in Mortuary Science. Tessie has been in funeral service since 1992 and is a licensed funeral director, embalmer, and pre-need specialist. A native of Bishop Texas; she now resides in Fleetwood with her husband John. Together, they have four sons, three granddaughters and one grandson.


Jordan Rudel

Graduated Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service in Houston, Texas with an Associates Degree in Mortuary Science. Jordan has been in funeral service since 2015 and is a licensed funeral director, embalmer and pre-need specialist, and certified crematory operator. A native of Alice, Texas; he now resides in Fleetwood with his wife, Patricia. Together, they have a daughter.


Jeffrey Gainey

A native of Watauga County, Jeffrey is currently enrolled at Fayetteville Tech for an Associate in funeral service education. Jeffrey will become a licensed funeral director in 2023, he is a certified crematory operator, assists on funeral services, as well as a notary public. Jeffrey resides in the Meat Camp area with his wife Darius and their four daughters.


Dillan Gonzales

Dillan Gonzales was raised in south Texas, Dillan is a veteran of the United States Army where he served in the infantry. Dillan assists in various aspects of funeral services, administrative duties, and is currently enrolled in Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Services. He has a son.


Michael Townsend

An active Minister guiding Meat Camp Baptist Church, Mike assists us with various aspects of funeral service.


In Heartfelt Memoriam

Johnnie R. Austin

1933 - 2002

Carolyn Greene Austin

1936-2022

James D. Hagaman

1936 - 2011

Beacher L. Matheson

1938 - 1994

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