Home Local News SAG Crematory, first Black-owned crematorium in operation in Nashville

SAG Crematory, first Black-owned crematorium in operation in Nashville

by Wanda Clay

Owner, Steve Ganaway, demonstrates the cremation process from the cooler to receipt of ashes by the family of the loved ones.

SAG Funeral Home has expanded its services to include in-house cremation at 1503 Buchanan Street. This service is offered to the public as an in-house capability, which lends an alternative to assist in options to families during the delicate time of bereavement.

This state-of-the-arts facility is located behind the funeral home. It is an up-to-date modern facility that is staffed only for the purpose of cremation. It is the first Black-owned crematorium in Nashville, licensed for cremation. In Tennessee, the only other Black-owned crematorium is in Memphis.

The building is complete with the crematory vault, made of cement (no bricks) with the capability of cremation in one hour and 20 minutes, with the capacity to hold over 1,000 pounds. The crematory staff consists of a diverse group of people, including: Black, White, and Hispanic with no discriminations. One of the staff members, Jim Reynolds, brings 32 years of experience in cremation.

Referring to the vault and its pristine cleanliness, Reynolds said: “The crematory vault will always be completely clean.” He looks forward to working in this area during this newest venture of SAG Funeral home.

SAG owner, Steve Ganaway, explained the entire process, with the care and respect for the deceased and their family. He began with receiving of the loved one. They will be stored in a temperature-controlled freezer before the cremation. Facilities are available for a memorial service after which the loved one’s ashes can be taken home. A family now has the option to cremate without excessive costs that add to the burden during grieving.

“Within a 20-mile radius of Nashville, cremations will be $850,” said Ganaway. “There is such a low cost because of the ability to offer direct cremations.” His concern is not to “get another body” but to assist families in any way he can. This is certainly a monetary relief to those who opt for cremation. The crematory is open to the public.

SAG Funeral Home, formerly Henry Lewis Smith Funeral Home has been in operation since 2007. As Smith was his partner in the business, and Ganaway was the primary stockholder, all things remained the same when Smith retired. SAG became the name. Ganaway has been in the funeral business since the early 1970s. Around the age of 15, he studied under Richard Smith. He recalls the day that Henry came in to work with his uncle some years later and how he and Henry grew up together in the north Nashville area.

Building this crematory took two years to complete. Open to the public, it is an asset to the community and to those in the funeral business. While SAG Funeral Home is open Monday-Friday from 9 am-5 pm, Ganaway said: “I’m on-call 24 hours each day and seven days a week.” He was preparing to go out and meet a family following this interview. “I just want to help people,” he concluded.

The first cremations in the new facility were scheduled for the second week in April.

For inquiries for service or more information, call SAG Funeral Home at 615-244-5044.

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