History & Staff

We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.

Our History

Our History

Our founders, St. Julian and Inez Renfro, met in Louisiana and married in 1904. They moved to Cincinnati in 1913, seeking a better life and opportunities for their young family. Their first goal was completing their education at the East Night High School in 1917.


St. Julian, who had experience as a Chicago saddle factory clerk, was hired at the Cincinnati Post Office. His clerk experience quickly earned him advancements as a clerk in post office's registry division.

Although he was smart enough to train his white co-workers, discrimination kept him from advancing himself. Determined to control his own destiny, St. Julian enrolled in the Cincinnati College of Embalming.

The Renfro's first opened for business in Cincinnati's West End community in 1921 with a cash investment of $600.In 1957, the couple purchased a second location at 647 Forest Avenue in the heart of the city due to relocation caused by Cincinnati's urban redevelopment plan.

St. Julian and Inez Renfro are featured in Cincinnati's Colored Citizens (an early historical book on Cincinnati African Americans). St. Julian, who was quiet and reserved, worked two jobs for years to launch the business. Inez Renfro…described as "the amazing Inez," had her hands in everything.

She first had to overcome her fear of the dead to become a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She turned her home over to the business, made all of the burial garments and met with families. She was also a powerbroker in Cincinnati politics, successfully getting African-Americans appointed to key positions and elected to office.

The Renfro's raised their two children to become an integral part of their business. Upon their deaths, daughter Marietta Glenn Renfro and her brother, Jenifer Renfro continued running the business in its 42 year. St. Julian died in 1946; Inez Renfro died in 1965, followed by Marietta Renfro Glenn in 1966.

Jenifer Renfro, with the support of an excellent staff, continued to run the funeral service.Jenifer, a former president of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, welcomed his son Julian to the business as a license funeral director and embalmer in 1970. Allene Renfro , a former reading specialists for Cincinnati Public Schools, joined her husband and son in business as a licensed funeral director in 1973. Jenifer Renfro died in 1986, followed by Allene in 2010.

Today Julian Renfro and his wife, Gayle, continue to run the business with the same commitment to outstanding service.

We embrace our 91th anniversary as a wonderful milestone that is a testament to the foundation and dedication of our forefathers… Inez and St. Julian Renfro, Marietta Renfro, Jenifer and Allene Renfro. With God's grace and continued blessings, we look forward to celebrating many years to come.

Our Valued Staff

  • Mr. Julian H Renfro Sr.

    Mr. Julian H Renfro Sr., Owner

    Julian H. Renfro, a licensed funeral director & embalmer, is president of Renfro Funeral Services. He has worked at the funeral home since the age of 18, washing cars and driving for the former Renfro ambulance service. He represents the third generation of licensed funeral directors and embalmers of his family. He is a graduate of Xavier University and the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science . His natural talents in art and sculpture paved the way for his outstanding reputation as one of the best restorative embalmers in our region. He is an avid model train collector; husband to Gayle Harden-Renfro for 37 years and father of Julian Renfro Jr., Barry Renfro and Jenifer Renfro-Teasley.

  • Mrs. Gayle Yvette Harden-Renfro

    Mrs. Gayle Yvette Harden-Renfro, Co-Owner

    Gayle Harden-Renfro is co-owner and funeral director of Renfro Funeral Services. Gayle takes on an "event-planner" role when she works with families to add custom touches to the service. Her talents come from a diversified career, all of which she brings home to her family business. Gayle is a 1974 graduate of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. where she graduated with honors with a BA degree in Journalism. Her 25-year career as a journalist started at her hometown newspaper--The South Bend Tribune. Following graduation from Purdue, she has worked at The Lansing State Journal, Lansing, MI.; The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Hamilton Journal News and The Cincinnati Post, where she enjoyed an 18-year stay. Gayle also worked as public relations director for the Greater Cincinnati Convention & Visitors Bureau prior to joining her husband, Julian, in 2004. Gayle, mother of Jenifer Renfro-Teasley, is an accomplished writer, artist and licensed funeral director.

  • Ms. Debbie Coleman

    Ms. Debbie Coleman, Administrative Assistant

    Debbie Coleman joined Renfro Funeral Services on April 6, 2006, bringing a wealth of experience and skills to our company. Debbie, a licensed Notary Public, works with our staff to set up funerals, designs programs and assist to complete any familys' request. She is a 1980 graduate of Woodward High School and attended Cincinnati Technical College. She is also a graduate of the Urban League Skill Training Center. Prior to joining Renfro Funeral Services she worked as an administrative assistant for the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau..

  • Teresa Givan

    Teresa Givan, Apprentice, Funeral Director & Embalmer

    We welcome Teresa to our staff, who is proving to be a wonderful skilled addition.

  • Louis Simpson

    Louis Simpson, Driver/

    Louis, a retired Cincinnati Firefighter, helps maintain the building as well as drive and service funeral families.