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 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

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 works directly with families with an "event planner-style," to design funerals that offer personalization and a celebration of life. 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 20-year career as a journalist started at the Lansing State Journal, Lansing, MI. She moved to Cincinnati in 1975 to work for the Cincinnati Enquirer. That position was followed by The; Hamilton Journal News, followed by The Cincinnati Post. Gayle left The Post in 1997 after 18 years. Prior to joining the family business in 2004, she worked as a mortgage orginator for Key Bank and Communications Director for the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau. Gayle 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 Notorary 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 workes as an administrative assistant for the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau..

Mr. Julian H Renfro Sr.

Mr. Julian H Renfro Sr., Owner