Milam County Historical Commission
Milam County, Texas
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First Rockdale Funeral Home Burned in 1943
Spoilin' the Broth
Rockdale Reporter - 2017-01-27
As promised last week, here’s a history lesson prompted by the recent tearing down of the old, empty downtown funeral home building. The history is courtesy of Wallace Jones, senior partner in the family-owned business.
Phillips & Luckey Funeral Home was established in January, 1936. Opening that year were the Rockdale and Caldwell homes, with the Giddings facility added in 1938. There was also a Phillips & Luckey Funeral Home in Belton, but it was closed years ago. Today, P&L operates funeral homes in Rockdale, Giddings, Caldwell and Lexington.
The firm was established by E. B. Phillips & P. E. Luckey. Prior to opening the funeral homes they formed Phillips & Luckey Burial Association that grew to be the largest Burial Association in Texas.
P. E. Luckey and E. B. Phillips first worked for Henne & Meyer Hardware which also sold coffins. Henne & Meyer closed in 1933 due to the Depression. Mr. Phillips was a licensed undertaker and Mr. Luckey was a carpenter.
Mr. Phillips kept the office and did the embalming and since they had no money for the purchase of coffins, Mr. Luckey built them in a workshop behind his home. This home was located just west of the present City Hall.
Rockdale’s first funeral home was located at 240 Burleson in a large frame home. On Thanksgiving Day, 1943 the home burned to the ground. The funeral home (the building that was recently torn down) was rebuilt at the same downtown site, completed in 1944. Lumber and other materials were hard to come by during those World War II years but, because they built caskets they were able to get the materials needed to build a new funeral home.
Later Mr. Luckey’s son Don C. Luckey and Mr. Phillip’s son-in-law Boswell Newton joined the funeral home and later became the second-generation owners of the funeral and insurance firms.
After the death of Boswell Newton and later Don Luckey, the funeral homes in Rockdale, Giddings and Caldwell were sold to two long-time employees — Clyde Jones and wife Wilma of Rockdale and Alfred Zoch and wife Vernelle of Giddings in May of 1972. The sale did not include the insurance company which was sold in 1980 to Landmark Life Insurance Co. in Brownwood.
The funeral homes kept the name of Phillips & Luckey and the only change was moving the Rockdale office from 233 N. Main to the funeral home at 240 Burleson.
Clyde Jones died in 1992 and in 1995 his son Wallace Jones purchased his interest in the business, starting the second generation of family ownership.
Also involved in the business is a brother Stephen Jones and a sister Gracile Lillard and the third generation of family Amanda (Jones) Jackson.
In June 1992 the Rockdale funeral home moved from downtown to it present location, 1041 West US Hwy 79.
Since 1992 the old downtown funeral home was used by the Rockdale ISD for class rooms, then the Rockdale Police Department used it as a weight room and the Rotary Club used it as a meeting place.
Phillips & Luckey also formed the Pre-Need Corporation to offer pre-paid funeral plans. Phillips & Luckey was one of the early pioneers in Texas to form a pre-arrangement trust.
Phillips & Luckey operated Rockdale’s ambulance service for many years.
On March 1, 1969 the City of Rockdale took over the ambulance service and two ambulances were sold to the city for $1 each.