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.
In 2021, Renfro Funeral Services celebrated 100 years of service to the Cincinnati community under the leadership of Mrs. Gayle Harden-Renfro, the widow of the late Julian Renfro. After carrying the Renfro Funeral Home to its centennial mark, Gayle felt the time was right to bring on some additional help and knowledge of the funeral industry as well as a way to reach a new generation of consumers.
On August 1, 2022, Gayle Harden-Renfro, Jon P. Patterson and Donald H. Jordan, Jr. came together to form the Renfro, Patterson & Jordan Funeral Home and was officially licensed by the State of Ohio Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers on August 19, 2022. Mr. Jon P. Patterson has over 35 years of experience and service to the Cincinnati community. Jon spent his career with the Thompson, Hall & Jordan Funeral Home under the teachings of Rev. Donald H. Jordan, Sr. Donald H. Jordan, Jr. has been carrying on his fathers legacy since he passed away in January of 2017 with the Donald Jordan Memorial Chapel which has locations in Hamilton, OH, Middletown, OH and Dayton, OH.
With the addition of Jon P. Patterson and Donald H. Jordan, Jr., the Renfro, Patterson & Jordan Funeral Home will carry on a legacy of service and tradition to the Cincinnati community and beyond for years to come.