Chris Burch




Chris has over 32 years of funeral service experience. He started his career in funeral service after graduating from Parry McCluer High School, Buena Vista, Virginia in 1987. He served his apprenticeship at Lomax Funeral Home in Buena Vista where he  was employed from November 1987 to January 1990. He graduated from Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service, Atlanta, Georgia in February 1991. Chris was employed by Carter-Tharp Funeral Home, Inc. (now Tharp Funeral Home) in Bedford from 1991 until late 2005. Chris is a member of Thaxton Baptist Church. He has enjoyed working in the Bedford community, coaching children in softball and basketball with the Bedford Parks and Recreation Department. Chris is married to Betsy Wingfield Burch of Appomattox, and is the father of six children; Ryan, Andrew and  Kelsey Oler, Ethan Stratton, Christopher Kincaid “Caid” Burch  and, Levi Fielding Burch.  Chris is owner of Burch-Messier Funeral Home and Cremation Service and oversees the day-to-day operations


John Messier


John has over 38 years experience in funeral service. He started his employment with M.P. Carter Company Funeral Home (formerly Carter-Tharp Funeral Home, Inc. and now known as Tharp Funeral Home, Inc.) in January 1981 while he was a senior at Liberty High School in Bedford, Virginia. He apprenticed there from June 1981 to June 1983 and then entered New England Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, where he graduated Cum Laude with an A.S. in Mortuary Science in June, 1985. While in Boston, he was a contract employee of two funeral service firms. He returned to Carder-Tharp Funeral Home and became licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Funeral Service Licensee. He practiced funeral service with Carder-Tharp Funeral Home until January 1994 when he left to work in his family’s business, Southern Flavoring Company as V.P. of Marketing. He continues to work full time at Southern Flavoring Company in addition to helping out at Burch-Messier. John was an EMT for 12 years, is a 17-year member of the Bedford Life Saving Crew Board of Directors; a past member of the Board of Directors and officer of the Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce; member and Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Bedford; a communicant of Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church and has served on several boards, commissions and committees in the Bedford area. He is the husband of April and the proud father of P.C., Anna, Jamie, Scott, Benjamin and Emily Marie Rose Messier.. Since John stills has his “day job”, he works with Chris, and the others when time (and kids’ activities) allow. He is there in a moment’s notice, though, when families specifically request him.

                                                         Tammy Johnson


Tammy Johnson, a 1984 graduate of Liberty High School and was employed at Liberty High School for 17 years. Tammy is the full time secretary at Burch-Messier Funeral Home. She is a member of Timber Ridge Baptist Church where she is head of the nursery and teaches Sunday School for the two and three year olds.  She is married to Phillip Johnson and has one son, Derek;  daughter-in-law (love), Lauren; and the loves and joy of her life her twin grandbabies, Braxton Wayne and Kinsley Grace. God, family and friends are very important in her life.  She enjoys scrapbooking, camping and spending time with family and friends.


Barry Saunders


Barry is a life long resident of Bedford. He is a graduate of Liberty High School and Virginia Tech. Barry partnered with his brother Carl in the family business, Coffey & Saunders Farm and Hardware for thirty-five years. He and his wife Sue have two daughters and four grandchildren. Barry joined the Burch-Messier staff in 2006 as a funeral assistant.


Penny Carter


Penny Carter had a successful career in banking and after retirement became a local representative for Woodmen of the World Insurance and Financial Services. Penny has played the organ for Epworth United Methodist Church for longer than she’d like to admit and is an integral part of our community through her service in many organizations

Russel Fellers

Russell is a lifelong resident of Bedford County. He graduated from Liberty HS in 1970. He worked as a carpenter with his father, who taught him the trade, until his father’s death in 1985. He then took over the family beef cattle farm and also drove a bus for Bedford County Schools for 19 years. He and his wife Ellen both retired in 2017. He is a member of Mt. Hermon Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon. He has 2 sons and 4 grandchildren. Russell has worked at Burch- Messier since March 2017.

Larry Ross


Larry Ross is a retired pastor/missionary of 41 years in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Lisbon, Portugal. Currently his ministry includes pulpit supply, interim pastorates and evangelism. He and his wife, Janet, make their home in Bedford. They have a son in Nashville, TN and a daughter in Fairbanks, AK. They are members of the Suck Spring Baptist Church of Bedford and enjoy volunteer ministry/singing in local nursing homes and senior centers. Larry is a 1969 graduate of Liberty High School, graduated from Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia and attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is a native of Big Island, Virginia. Larry has enjoyed working for the Burch-Messier Funeral Home since March 2016.