Learn our story, from the beginning and into the future.
Ever since we opened our doors we have approached life (and death) differently. While some just see the end of a loved one’s life as a time for grief and mourning, we prefer to think of it as a time for reflection, appreciation, and even celebration. This is evident in everything we do. We are a close knit community dedicated to honoring, sharing and preserving the amazing and inspirational stories that are life.
In a nutshell? Experience, professionalism, compassion, and empathy.
We've learned a lot over many years. Like how to present options without overwhelming. And how to meet the needs of many caring parties. People come to us in difficult times, and we respond kindness, calmness and expertise. Our goal is to create a beautiful occasion and make you feel welcome, always. We spend our days planning with families. We stay up to date with industry developments. And we make hard times a little easier.
Learn the legacy.
Originally founded by Gardner and Laura May Watson in 1942, Watson-Hunt Funeral Home has a long and illustrious history. Believed to be the oldest residence in Perry, the home was built in 1852 by the late Judge Samuel Doddridge Killen, the first Judge of the city court in Perry. Many knew of the home as "The Palace Beautiful." Upon Mr. Killen's death, the home was sold to Mrs. Francis Marion King, organizer of the Georgia Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy. Later, in 1925, the home was sold to the Penn-Dixie Cement Corporation for use as a residence for the plant superintendent and president of the company. Mr. and Mrs. Watson purchased the property in 1955 and completely renovated it for use as a funeral home. "In the atmosphere of your own home" became the slogan that is still used today.
As Perry grew, the need to enlarge became apparent. The decision to build a new facility or remain in the beautiful old home needed to be made. After much thought, it was decided to add a chapel, lounge, apartment, new restrooms, and handicapped-accessible ramps to the old home. This renovation was completed in 1984.
Riley Hunt became associated with the firm in 1960 and became a partner in 1968. Mr. Gardner Watson's son, Draper, joined the firm in 1970 and became a partner in 1972. Mr. Hunt sold his interest in the firm to Draper Watson in 1999. Mr. and Mrs. Gardner Watson's legacies still continue to influence the funeral industry in Houston County. Mrs. Laura May Watson was one of the first woman to become a Licensed Funeral Director in the state of Georgia. The Watson's retired after many successful years serving families. In 1998, Mr.Gardner Watson died after a lengthy illness and the following year in 1999, Mrs. Laura May Watson passed away to join her husband. Their son Draper Watson continues to provide the same compassionate service that he learned from his parents.
The need for another major renovation was completed in 2001. Bob Brewer and Dawne Watson were at the helm of the design task. The home received new carpeting, paint, and wallpaper, and a number of antiques were also added. With the charm and the history of our facility at 1208 Main Street, we decided to continue serving the people of Perry in our newly renovated facility in lieu of building a new facility.
The community saw a need for a perpetual care cemetery in the area, so Gardner Watson developed Perry Memorial Gardens in 1965. Still family owned and operated by The Watson Family. Our cemetery offers ground spaces for traditional burials, cremation niches to entomb your loved ones cremains, as well as private mausoleums. The cemetery is located on U.S. Highway 41 North, a mile north of Perry. With Watson-Hunt Funeral Home and Perry Memorial Gardens owned and managed locally, families have the ability to make all of their decisions at one location, eliminating much of the stress involved in the decision-making process.
Watson-Hunt takes great pride in being involved in our community through support of our churches, the Chamber of Commerce, civic clubs, schools, and charitable organizations. We have elected to remain locally owned and managed because we feel that we can provide much more personal attention to our families. Our commitment is one of trust and simply "doing what is right."
Thank you for trusting Watson-Hunt Funeral Home with your loved one.
Who We Are
Meet our staff. Members of the local community make everything that happens possible.
Together, we make this place amazing.
Draper was born and raised in Perry, Georgia. After watching his parents serve families in the community with compassion, he decided to carry on the tradition of becoming a funeral director. Once he graduated from high school, he attended Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. When his time at "Southern" was complete, he made the trek to Minnesota where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Mortuary Science. Draper has served the community of Perry for nearly 50 years as a third generation funeral director. He calls it a true honor to be able to serve the families of Perry and surrounding towns.
Draper's expertise and compassion in funeral service are the heartbeat of Watson-Hunt Funeral Home. His staff members are treated as if they are a part of his extended family. Each member of the Watson-Hunt Team are truly honored to work with such an amazing leader and friend.
Mr. Watson also proudly serves his community by staying active in various civic and local groups. Currently, he serves as a board member of the local branch of Synovus Corporation, a member of the Eagle Scout Association, a member of Kappa Alpha Order Hardeman Province Court of Honor. Draper has been past Chairman of the Houston Co. Development Authority, Past Chairman of the Perry Chamber of Commerce, Recipient of the annual Seabie Hickson Community Service Award, Past President of the Board at Westfield Schools, and Past Chairman of the Middle Georgia Military Affairs Committee.
Draper shares his love for Christ as an active member of Perry United Methodist Church. He has served as Chairman of Pastor Parish Relations and Administrative Board in the past.
Mr. Watson's professional associations include the National Funeral Directors Association, the Georgia Funeral Directors Association, and the Cremation Association of North America.
Draper proudly makes his home in Perry. He enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren. You can find "Big D" travelling with his family, dining with friends, or spending time raising money for a foundation he holds dear to his heart, the Alzheimer's Association ...In Memory of his loving wife, Dawne Shaw Watson.
Lisa has lived in Perry, Georgia, most of her life. She graduated from The Westfield Schools, received an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Middle Georgia College in Cochran, and graduated from Georgia Southwestern College with a Bachelor's Degree in Middle Grades Education. Always eager to further her education, she returned to Georgia Southwestern for a Master's Degree in Reading Education. After over a decade of teaching school, she became a stay-at-home mom with her newborn twins. While she enjoyed her babies, an opportunity to serve her community was presented, and Lisa accepted a part-time position with Watson-Hunt Funeral Home as a Family Services Counselor, assisting families with pre-planning their own funerals. It wouldn’t be long before she discovered a hidden passion for directing and planning funerals, and she returned to college and earned an Associate’s Degree in Mortuary Science from Ogeechee Technical College. She proudly turned her part-time position into a full-time career and is a Georgia Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. Lisa has taken courses and is also a licensed Georgia Life Insurance Agent, a licensed Georgia Cemetery Sales Agent, and is an NFDA Certified Preplanning Consultant (CPC) and an NFDA Certified Cremation Services Provider (CCSP). She is a member of the Georgia Funeral Directors Association and the National Funeral Directors Association. Lisa has been nominated for Perry Business Woman of the Year and was the 2013 recipient of the Seabie Hickson Community Service Award presented by the Perry Chamber of Commerce. On January 1, 2020, she purchased Watson-Hunt Funeral Home from long-time owner and funeral director, Mr. Draper Watson, whose parents began Watson-Hunt Funeral Home in the late 1950's.
Lisa makes her home in Perry with her children, Catherine “Sissy” Hays, and Cary “Tank” Hays. Her daughter, Korah Beth Clark, lives and works in Murray, Kentucky. Lisa is a member of Perry United Methodist Church, where she previously served on the Administrative Board. She is a long-time member of one of the Women's Service Leagues in Perry, the Balvaunuca Club. She is the founder and annual Event Chairman for Balvaunuca’s Mistletoe Market since it's inception in 2005. Lisa continues to serve on the Board of Directors for Jay's HOPE, a Childhood Cancer Foundation, and served on the Board of Directors at Heart of Georgia Hospice, a non-profit Hospice Organization serving all of Middle Georgia. She loves Perry and Houston County and is proud to continue serving the community in various ways.
Larry Gray is a Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer and has been with the Watson-Hunt family for many years. Mr. Gray received his degree in 1963 from the Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science in Dallas, Texas. His vast knowledge and expertise have kept him in the funeral industry for 55 years. He has been blessed that his career has allowed him to serve hundreds of families in both Florida and Georgia.
Larry makes his home in Perry with his wife Marlene. He's been blessed with a daughter and grandchildren. Mr. Gray enjoys travelling to the mountains in his free time, reading, and sharing tidbits of information with his friends. He shares his love for the Lord as a member of the Perry United Methodist Church.
We are truly blessed to have Larry as part of the Watson-Hunt Funeral Home family.
Kenneth, better known as Ken or "Dr. Smith around the funeral home", was born in Panama City, Florida to the late Manly and Jewel Herndon Smith. He received his high school diploma from Rutherford High School in 1971. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served his country for 20 years in nuclear submarines. He did a total of 14 years underwater with the Navy. After making the huge decision to retire from his love of the sea, he wanted to return to where he felt his heart was rooted... in the funeral home. One of his first jobs, while in middle school, was with Southerland Funeral Home in his hometown of Panama City, Florida. That experience from his youth planted the seed to serve families in a different way than the service he gave to his country. Ken followed his heart and graduated from Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service, in Decatur, Georgia with a Degree in Mortuary Science. He has been a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer for over twenty years.
He is a member of the Georgia Funeral Directors Association.
Ken is proud to share his life with his wife Leslie. They make their home in Bonaire, Georgia. He is blessed with two daughters, Lydia Smith Higgins married to Marcus, of Jacksonville, Alabama and Kenna Smith of Perry, Georgia. He and Leslie are proud grandparents of six grandchildren.
In his free time, you'll find him in a deer stand, fishing, or enjoying time with his beautiful grandchildren, who lovingly refer to him as "Papa".
He is a member of the Church of the Nazarene in Warner Robins, Georgia.
We are blessed to have Ken as part of the Watson-Hunt Funeral Home Family.
Brenda Stokes, better known around the funeral home as "Miss B", has been with Watson-Hunt Funeral Home nearly 10 years. Her kind and loving spirit are exactly what friends and families need as they arrive at the funeral home. She has greeted hundreds of families with a smile and a hug as they walk through the front doors. Her heartfelt mission is to make certain that every task she is asked to perform is carried out with the utmost love and care, striving to leave no detail unchecked, just as if each person we serve was a member of her own family. Brenda is an huge asset to Watson-Hunt Funeral Home. Whether she's assisting in front of the house or the back, she patiently waits on each member of the family as they need to be served.
Brenda lovingly shares her life with her husband, Pete, and they proudly call Perry their home. You can find Brenda spending time with family, walking or running through the streets of "Perrydise", or volunteering at a local thrift store that helps women in need. She shares her love for Christ as a member of The Assembly of God in Warner Robins.
We are certainly blessed to have Brenda as part of the Watson-Hunt Funeral Home family.
Ronnie is a lifelong resident of Houston County. He's a proud graduate of Warner Robins High School. Mr. Bennett has served the funeral home community with his gracious and kind spirit for over 10 years. He is always faithful to lend a helping hand to any funeral service.
Ronnie shares his life with his wife Jean and they make their home in Kathleen. Mr. Ronnie has been blessed with children and grandchildren. He thoroughly enjoys spending time at the beach with his family. He's a member of the Perry United Methodist Church.
Watson-Hunt is proud to have Ronnie as a member of their care team.
Kirk was born and raised in Perry, Georgia. After proudly graduating from The Westfield Schools, he made his way to Athens, Georgia to study at The University of Georgia. Kirk received a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resources from UGA and then headed back to his hometown to start his career. He pursued his dream of becoming a Fireman/First Responder and has over 15 years of employment with Perry Fire Department. Kirk takes true pride in being able to serve and give back to the town in which he was raised. He currently serves as Battalion Chief, he is an EMA & EMS Coordinator, and a CPR Instructor. His love of being able to serve his community led him to Watson-Hunt as a member of our Care Team. He has been with the Watson-Hunt Funeral Home family for nearly 3 years.
Kirk and his wife, Kaycee, are proud to plant roots where it all began for him and make Perry their home for their family. They are blessed with two daughters, Kennedy and Kate.
Watson-Hunt is honored to have Kirk as part of the Watson-Hunt Funeral Family.
Watson-Hunt Funeral Home Care Team Member
Debbie Mullis Wood
Family Services Counselor