Local dry cleaner honoring veterans for 45 years

J.R. Robinson, Jimmie Keith Crowder, and Daniel Gwaltney

Town and Country Cleaners of South Hill has been doing their part to honor deceased veterans by pressing the American flags that are draped over the caskets at no charge to the funeral home or the family.

45 years ago Jimmie Keith Crowder of Crowder, Hite, Crews Funeral Home was approached by Town and Country owner Fred Thompson and his wife Anne about the condition of the flags on the caskets. “He told me that he would be happy to press them at no charge,” said Mr. Crowder.

Fifteen years ago local business owners, Dwayne and Lisa Gwaltney, bought the dry cleaner. Mr. Crowder approached the new owners about continuing the tradition and they happily agreed to do it.

Mr. Crowder says that pressing these flags is no easy task. “They come in one in a box and when you take them out they are horribly creased. To put it on a casket like that would show a crease every square foot.” Each American flag is five foot by nine foot of a very heavy and course material. It takes two people to press one flag.

J.R. Robinson, Captain of the Post 79 Honor Guard, and the rest of the guard attend funerals regularly at no additional charge to the funeral home or family to perform an honor service and fold the flags to present to the family.

Dwayne and Lisa’s son, Daniel Gwaltney, is the manager at the dry cleaner and says that in the 15 years that he has been running the business they have pressed about two flags per week. This service is extended to all funerals in the community and surrounding areas. Each flag takes about five to eight minutes depending on how many flags they have to work on.

“We do all funeral home flags and as well customers will bring their flags in. I was telling Jimmie [Keith Crowder] the other day that we had a customer bring in a 40 year old flag belonging to his great-grandfather. We didn’t charge for it. We cleaned and processed it the best we could since it had a lot of age and wear and tear on it. We cleaned it up real nice and the customer was happy because it means something to him,” said Daniel Gwaltney.

“These two outfits [Town and Country Cleaners and the Post 70 Honor Guard] do a tremendous job honoring our local veterans and they do it without any fanfare,” said Mr. Crowder.