Starting Sunset Memorial Park, Funeral Home, and Crematory has fulfilled a long-time dream of Toni and Robert Byrd. In 1994, Robert Byrd established Sunset Cemetery, and we had our first burial on April 15. Since that date, Sunset has gone through many changes but has always had the same goal in mind: to provide the most compassionate services to the residents of the Wiregrass area at a reasonable cost. 1999 saw the construction of the first set of mausoleums inside the Pavilion and were dedicated to the area's Veterans. A community garden mausoleum with niche banks was added and completed in 2001.
Robert sold Byrd Funeral Home in 1995, and we embarked on bringing the most professional funeral service in the Wiregrass area to Sunset Memorial Park, Funeral Home, and Crematory, LLC. Several hundred interments later and a name change to Sunset Memorial Park, Funeral Home, and Crematory, LLC, our dream to have a funeral home on our cemetery grounds has come to fruition. We completed the first phase of construction in May of 2007 and revived our funeral establishment license from the State of Alabama Board of Funeral Service. The second phase of construction was completed in February 2009 and includes a chapel, visitation parlors, and a reception center.
Families choosing Sunset now have the advantage of being able to secure all of their arrangements at one convenient place. The need to visit several different establishments on the worst day of your life is no longer necessary.Back to Top
About Our Staff
Born and raised in the Wiregrass Area, Robert Franklin Byrd was born to Dr. Robert Morris Byrd and Georgia Helen Smith in Midland City, Alabama. He was a 1973 graduate of Headland High School. At the young age of 16, Robert began his career in the funeral industry, working under the direction of Wilton R. Holman, Sr., who founded Holman Mortuary in Headland, Alabama in the early 1930’s. It was here in 1972 while serving his funeral directors apprenticeship that Robert was first exposed to the duties of a coroner as Mr. Holman was the Henry County Coroner. Robert is a 1976 Graduate of the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science located in Cincinnati. He has been a licensed funeral director in Alabama since 1976 and has also been a licensed funeral director in Florida since 1994.
In 1983 Robert opened Byrd Funeral Home in Dothan, Alabama and was elected as Houston County Coroner in 1986, a position he has held since. Robert is a member of the Alabama Coroners Association, Alabama Funeral Directors Association, The Independent Funeral Group, Inc, ICCFA, the Alabama Cemetery Association, the Dothan Rotary Club, the Knights of Columbus, and the Houston County Republicans Association. Robert proudly participates in the Houston County Substance Abuse Campaign called Prom Promise. He is a member of St. Columba Catholic Church, and enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, and riding his motorcycle in his spare time. Robert is married to Toni Newton Byrd of Dothan, and has five children, Jordan, Phillip, Andrew, Matthew and Emily Byrd.
A true Dothanian, Toni Newton Byrd was born and raised right here in the Wiregrass Area. Having a heritage on her mother's side of the family that extends from Slocomb and on her father's side from Taylor, she has loved this community and was proud to stay and raise her own family here. A 1988 graduate of Dothan High School, Toni has also attended Wallace Community College and Troy University of Dothan where she was well on her way to a degree in elementary education. But God had other plans, and so it was that in 1989 while seeking part time work she began working at Byrd Funeral Home. She met and later married Robert Franklin Byrd. The Byrd's have five wonderful children, Jordan, Phillip, Andrew, Matthew, and Emily, and now have one super-wonderful granddaughter, Olivia!
After being a stay-at-home mom for several years, Robert and Toni began carefully planning and developing a cemetery in 1994. A lifelong dream of being a complete funeral service provider began coming true when plans for a funeral home on the property were laid out and construction began. Sunset Funeral Home opened its doors in 2007. The Byrd family is grateful and humbled to serve the families of this community for all of their funeral needs. Toni is a licensed Alabama Funeral Director, a member of the Alabama Funeral Directors Association, The Independent Funeral Group, Inc, ICCFA, the Alabama Cemetery Association, and the Houston County Republicans Women's Association. Toni is a member of St. Columba Catholic Church and enjoys needle-pointing, a hobby she learned from Robert's grandmother, travel, and spending time with her growing family.
Andrew Byrd is the son of Robert and Toni Byrd and graduated from Northview High School in 2010. He completed his undergraduate studies at Troy University and is working toward his associate degree in mortuary sciences at Jefferson State University.
Andrew grew up in the family funeral home business. He respected the work of his parents as business owners, mentors and community leaders. When asked why he decided to return to Dothan and join the family business, Andrew Byrd replied, “I am a strong believer in family tradition especially when it comes to family businesses. Joining my family and the staff at Sunset just feels natural. I want to strive to be like my parents, being that welcoming face you know and look for especially in a time of need.”
Benjamin Lee Earnest was born in Dothan, his father stationed at Fort Rucker and his mother a school teacher. Ben and his family moved away at an early age to follow his father around the country who was stationed at various places in the U.S. In 1980, Ben returned to Dothan and was a 1987 graduate of Northview High School. He is a graduate of Marion Military Institute with further studies at the University of Alabama and Troy State University. One of Ben’s proudest accomplishments is the attainment of Eagle Scout in 1984.
Ben has worked with the Byrd family since November of 2001 and has been with Sunset since January of 2002. He worked at Sunset as manager and also at Byrd Funeral Home until October of 2006. Ben worked with Robert and Toni Byrd on the development of the new funeral home and has helped them manage the day to day operations since. He has also worked with Houston County as a Deputy Coroner since 2004. Ben lives in Dothan with his wife, Laurie, and their daughters, Baylee and Audrey.
Robert “Bob the Barker" Byrd was born in Thomasville, GA and has lived in the Dothan area since 2003. His first job at Sunset included the management and oversight of the helicopter installation project in Freedom Park. He was also instrumental in the development and planning of all of the phases in the new building at Sunset. He handled day to day operations of the project to include everything from plan revisions to labor disputes.
Bob’s primary duty today is front door greeter and grief therapist. We are honored to have Bob here with us and have learned a tremendous amount of knowledge from his expertise. Please ask for Bob the next time you come to visit at Sunset. Bob lives in Dothan with his family: Robert, Toni, Phillip, Andrew, Matthew, Emily, and Lolly.
Tena Ellison is a native of Dothan and attended school here prior to attending college in Columbus, GA. She brings with her to Sunset experience of working in the art and home décor industry for 27 years. She was instrumental in the interior décor of the new funeral home as well as the landscaping.
Tracy Martin was born and raised in Panama City, Florida. Prior to moving to Dothan, Tracy was employed with Bay Medical Center in Panama City for over 14 years where she gained valuable knowledge in working with families in their time of need. She became part of the Byrd family mission at Sunset in 2008 and is eager to lend a compassionate hand in all aspects of the funeral process.
Tracy met and married Joel Martin and relocated to the Dothan area. Their family includes a daughter Tiffany and Josh, and a grandson Gabe. She loves to spend time with her family and friends, long walks on the beach, and go for a drive with her husband enjoying the beauty that God has created. They are members of Ridgecrest Baptist Church and her favorite saying is “I’m blessed”!
Keith Stowers was born and raised in Southern Ohio. He attended the Citadel Military College in Charleston, South Carolina. After graduation he joined the Air Force, serving 20 years on active duty and 23 years as a civil service employee. While in the military one of his many duties was to work with the Air Force Mortuary Program. After retirement, Keith and his wife Marsha moved to Dothan to be with two of their four children; their other two children reside in the St. Louis area. Keith and Marsha attend Calvary Baptist Church and are actively involved in the Senior Program. When not working or at church, they stay very busy with their eight grandchildren.
Born in Williamsburg, Kentucky, Phil moved to Dothan at an early age and graduated from Dothan High School in 1971. He began his career as a funeral director after moving back to Dothan in 1991. He was the manager of a local funeral home and cemetery, but left for a short time for another venture. His love for helping families in need encouraged him to join the family at Sunset Memorial Park. He has been a licensed funeral director for 15+ years. Phil is also a licensed insurance agent. His belief in pre-planning drives him to assist families in planning for their departure and not leaving the burden on their families. He joined the Sunset Memorial team in 2014 as pre-planning counselor and assisting at-need families when needed.
Phil lives in Dothan with his wife, Evelyn. They have 2 beautiful children, Gena Webb, husband Kevin, and Phillip Cox, wife, Kerri, and a beautiful granddaughter, Olivia Webb; handsome grandson JonDalton Webb, and truly awesome twin grandsons John Luke Cox and Taylor Gray Cox.
Pre-planning is something he firmly believes in and knows from personal experiences that this relieves the stress on the family member left with the burden of final arrangements. Feel free to contact Phil with any questions about pre-arrangements for yourself or your family. He would welcome any questions you may have.
Leisa Smith Pitchford was born and raised in Dothan, her mom a school teacher in Houston County and her dad a pressman at The Dothan Eagle. Leisa is a 1980 graduate of Dothan High School and also attended both University of Montevallo and Wallace Community College. She married her husband, Glen Pitchford, in 1984. The have 2 daughters, 2 grandsons, and a granddaughter on the way.
Having worked in several clerical type positions, Leisa feels drawn to helping and serving people. She is passionate about providing care for families and helping guide them through the process after they've laid their loved one to rest. Leisa is working to make sure that the families in our community do not have to face the death of a loved one uninformed and unprepared. She believes that pre-planning for one's funeral is a thoughtful and sound decision. It is truly a gift of love to one's family.