History & Staff

Personalized service options allow you to honor your loved ones in a way that is both meaningful and healing. We hope to provide support and caring while delivering memorial services that celebrate life and help families find the peace they deserve.
If you’re seeking an honorable celebration of life, we invite you to learn more about where we came from, our vision, and the dedicated people behind our work.

A History of Caring

We're proud of our role in helping Hilton Head Island families with death care services for over 35 years, and we'd like to share a bit of our story with you.

The Island Funeral Home and Crematory was founded in 1981 by Allen and Nancy Richardson. Their mission was to provide complete death care services to Hilton Head Island. Previously, families had to travel to Beaufort, SC, or Savannah, GA, to care for their loved ones in passing.

When planning for construction of the funeral home, the Richardsons were adamant that the building fit in with the "island" character and settled on a Lowcountry-style building, whose design led to a national award for the local contractor who built the funeral home. In anticipation of the wishes of the client families, the Richardsons added the firm's first on-site crematory in 1983.

For many years, Allen and Nancy solely operated the business with the help of a few part-time staff members. As the island grew, so did the business.

In addition to part-time associates, their daughter Sheri joined the staff in 1992 as a licensed funeral director. Upon Nancy's death in 1993, Sheri assumed partial ownership of the firm with her father. Together, they have grown the business to include six full-time funeral directors and several part-time funeral staff associates.

In 2002, the business expanded to include another family-owned crematory. In 2005, Allen and Sheri made a commitment to extend The Island Funeral Home and Crematory's special brand of caring for all family members to include pet cremation services.

Over the years, The Island Funeral Home and Crematory has been recognized six times as a Pursuit of Excellence firm by the National Funeral Directors Association. Readers of the Island Packet have named our firm "Best Funeral Home" for several years since its inception.

Allen and Sheri also have been featured in American Funeral Director magazine, as well as local publications.

Our Staff’s Dedication to Respectful Care

A funeral, or memorial service, should provide family members and loved ones with the chance to reflect, remember, and celebrate a life well-lived. Our goal is to create exceptional services and experiences that fulfill the wishes of your loved one. Our experienced Funeral Directors provide guidance on the crucial first steps toward healing.

Lawrence E. Melton, Jr.
Location Leader

Lawrence is a native of the South Carolina Lowcountry. He is married to Julie Melton from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They have three children, Jackson, Emily and Ethan.

Lawrence is active in the local community through the Boy Scouts of America and various other local organizations and charities.  He is also a member of American Lodge # 98 in his hometown of Ridgeland, South Carolina. Lawrence is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and is passionate about serving veterans in our community. During his service in the USCG he earned numerous awards.

Some of Lawrence’s hobbies include spending time on the water with his family, hunting, fishing and traveling. Lawrence is happiest doing just about anything his family will do.

Valerie Mayer
Lead Funeral Director
FD 3312

Valerie was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. She graduated from Simmons School of Mortuary Science (now known as Simmons Institute of Funeral Service) in 1984.

She became a New York State licensed funeral director one year after graduation. She worked for funeral homes in southern New York State. Valerie and her family moved to Hilton Head Island in 1997.

In February of 2005, Valerie joined the staff of The Island Funeral Home and Crematory as a service coordinator.

In February of 2007, she became a South Carolina licensed Funeral Director. Since then she has received her South Carolina preneed insurance license, is a Cremation Association of North America certified crematory operator and is a Certified Celebrant.

Valerie is a member of Congregation Beth Yam and served on the Board of Directors for five years.

Valerie and her husband Greg are now empty nesters and live in Bluffton.

Melissa Brown
Funeral Director/Embalmer
FDE 2664

Missy was born and raised in Tazewell, Virginia.  She worked in West Virginia as a respiratory therapy technician for nine years before feeling the need to change professions. So, she attended Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service in Decatur, Georgia, graduating as class Valedictorian in February 1999.

Missy worked at an Upstate South Carolina funeral home for 16 years prior to joining The Island Funeral Home and Crematory in December of 2016 as an embalmer and funeral director.

She enjoys reading, cooking, container gardening and spoiling her rescue cats when not working.

Monica Roberts
Funeral Director / Embalmer Apprentice
​FDE. 4277 FD / Embalmer Apprentice 

Monica was born and raised in middle Georgia and moved to the Hilton Head area in late 2020. She has been in the funeral business since 2019. Monica will be obtaining her associates of mortuary science with honors from Ogeechee Technical College in May of 2020.

Monica worked in the medical field as a phlebotomist for three and a half years and attended nursing school. However, she did not feel like they were truly helping people. Therefore, Monica changed her career path to the funeral business. Monica started her apprenticeship in 2020 and has plans to pursue restorative arts.

Monica enjoys entomology, paleontology, astronomy, painting, discord, and spending time with her kitty named Socks. You can find Monica spending time with her friends on discord after work.

Lesley Babington
Crematory Manager/Transfer Team Lead
CANA Certified Crematory Operator

Lesley was born in Irvine on the West Coast of Scotland and immigrated to the States in 2001. Her family spent 1 year in Kirkland, WA; 8 years in Fort Worth, TX; and moved to Bluffton, SC in 2010.

Lesley enjoys spending time with her husband, her son who is at USC Columbia, her daughter who is at May River High School and their two dogs.  

Lesley and her daughter love to read and have a large collection of books and an eclectic taste in music, ranging from classical to rock and pop music. She also loves going to football games to watch her son play in the USC Marching band and occasionally helping her husband with his car restoration project.

Lesley joined the staff at The Island Funeral Home and Crematory in 2017 as a member of the transfer team and Funeral Attendant and has worked her way up to Crematory Manager and Transfer Team Lead. She is a CANA (Cremation Association of North America) certified crematory operator.

You’ll find her most days with a wee hot cup ‘o’ tea and her Kindle.

Jeanne Shelor
Administrative Assistant

Jeanne moved to Hilton Head Island in March 1974 from Claxton, GA and worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years before moving over to the Heritage Classic Foundation as an Assistant Administrator until 2011.

She began working at the funeral home in 2012 as Administrative Assistant.

Jeanne and her husband George have raised 3 children, all graduates of Hilton Head High School. She enjoys reading, snorkeling, horseback riding and cryptograms.

Jim Wisnefski
Transfer Team/CANA Certified Crematory Operator

Jim joined our team as a Funeral Service Associate and transfer agent in 2015 as a result of his wife’s connection with Sheri. Jim’s wife was the Executive Director of the Funeral Service Foundation of which Sheri was a trustee.

Jim comes to us with a background in music education, B.M. University of Wisconsin – Madison and sales. Jim’s gregarious and compassionate temperament brings comfort to the families he serves.

Jim and his wife Kathy, moved to Bluffton to be closer to their three beautiful granddaughters. Kathy is currently employed with the National Alliance for Grieving Children.

Tim Middlekauff
Transfer Team

Tim was born January 25,1948 in Hagerstown,MD.  He is a 1966 graduate of North Hagerstown High School and a 1972 graduate of Towson University.

He taught Elementary Physical Education from 1972- 1978
Tim worked in manufacturing in several capacities from Machine Operator to Industrial Engineer to Logistics Engineer for 20+ years. He retired from Volvo Logistics in 2011. Over the years he worked in the hospitality industry as bartender and manager to hotel bellman and shuttle driver.

Tim has been an avid outdoor enthusiast most of his life and enjoys camping and hiking and became a certified scuba diver in 2002

His two sons who are attending PA (Physicians Assistant)school in Lynchburg, VA  His oldest will graduate in August then to obtain his doctorate in Medical Sciences, and his younger son will graduate next August from the same school Lynchburg College and also pursue his doctorate

Tim recently married the love of his life,  Julie.  They have lived on Hilton Head Island since 2017.