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

Watkins-Cooper-Lyon Funeral Home's history spans over 170 years and is uniquely intertwined with Randolph Macon College and Clarksville Presbyterian Church. In 1833 a Master cabinetmaker and German immigrant, Frank I. Liipfert was hired to help build the campus of Randolph Macon College. After the Civil War Randolph Macon was relocated, but Mr. Liipfert remained in Mecklenburg County as a cabinet maker and coffin builder. 

It was from that humble beginning that Watkins-Cooper-Lyon Funeral Home began. In 1953 Jack Watkins and Jim Cooper relocated the facility to the Clarksville Presbyterian Manse. Jim Cooper was an Elder of the church that year and was among the first to know of the pending sale. He and Mr. Watkins acted quickly to purchase the current location. Jim Cooper's share of the company was later sold to Jack Ligon, who served as General Manager for many years. 

In 1986, Michael R. Lyon and his wife Jane moved from Durham, NC and became the owners of Watkins-Cooper Funeral Home and added their name to the business. With the help of Jack & Hilda Ligon, a new era began. Renovations, procurement of new equipment and the latest technology, combined with a "WE CARE" policy created a unique company. A business known in the 1800's for undertaking and furniture today is best identified as progressive, growing, and caring. Serving not only Virginia, but also North Carolina with distinction.


Our Valued Staff

Michael R.  Lyon

Michael R. Lyon

Michael is a graduate of Gupton Jones College of Mortuary Science and has worked for funeral homes in Elkin, High Point and Durham, North Carolina. Since 1986 he has been President and manager of Watkins-Cooper-Lyon Funeral Home. He was instrumental in expanding the town cemetery for Clarksville and operates the marketing for Oakhurst Cemetery. In 1999 he formed Cremation Society of Virginia, Southside, Inc. providing the first on premise cremation service within this region.

Involvements present and past include Halifax Regional Health System, Board of Directors, and Dominion Health, Board of Directors, Baptist House Board of Studies, Duke University, Board of Directors, a member of Antioch Baptist Church, a former member of Clarksville Baptist Church, where he served as Director of Sunday School, Church Deacon and Trustee. Other memberships include Lion's Club and Ruritan Club. He had also participated on the Mecklenburg Commission for Mecklenburg County, Church Treasurer, Durham Kiwanis Club (Distinguished Service award Recipient), and YMCA Director. As a child, he was active in the Boy Scouts of America where he obtained the rank of Eagle Scout. He had served as District Chairman for the Meherrin District of the Heart of Virginia Council, Boy Scouts of America.


Jane Tucker  Lyon

Jane Tucker Lyon

Jane has a Master of Divinity from Duke University and a BA in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She serves as Vice President and on the Board of Directors for WCL, CSV and Oakhurst. She formerly worked for Burlington Industries in Human Resources and Customer Advocacy and then with Halifax Regional Health System as a community representative. As an ordained clergy, she has worked in parish ministries and Hospice aftercare. She currently pastors Antioch Baptist Church in Red Oak, Virginia. Jane heads the non profit group Whole Women and leads retreats for women nationwide.

When asked why someone should trust our firm "A funeral/ memorial service is an expression of love that requires hard work and experience, we have both to offer." Our firm isn't just family owned; it's also personal care and concern centered. Our focus is caring for each person within their values of spiritual and practical needs. Regardless of type of service need, resources or values brought from life to death, we are determined to provide thoughtful ceremony options.


Clarissa W. Ferrell

Clarissa W. Ferrell

Clarissa serves as Office Administrator for Watkins Cooper Lyon. She brings more than 30 years of bookkeeping, banking and office management to the company. She is honored to be able to assist the funeral home staff in caring for families from the community that she loves. Clarissa was raised in Chase City, has lived in the Red Oak & South Boston communities and presently lives in Clarksville. She is the proud mother of Justin Ferrell, a Physician Liaison with Bon Secours Depaul Medical Center in Norfolk and Jessica Ferrell Elliott of Bullock, NC, who owns and operates Southern Roots Hair Salon in Clarksville. In her spare time, she enjoys sports, working in the yard and spending time with her beloved pets.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:” 1 Peter 4:10 ESV


Nathaniel Bellissimo

Nathaniel Bellissimo, Funeral Director


Joe L.

Joe L. "Joey" Jenkins, III

Born and raised in South Boston, I am the second generation of my family to serve in funeral care. A graduate of Halifax Co. Senior High School, I attended East Tennessee State University. I began working at Brooks, now Brooks Lyon Funeral Home, in 1992. I am a member of First Baptist Church where I have served as a Deacon, Youth Leader, and Choir member. In the past, I have been involved with Halifax Co. Little Theatre and Habitat for Humanity. In my spare time I enjoy reading, sports, movies, and especially time spent being "Papa" to four grandsons.


Al Beard

Al Beard


Jackie  Burnett

Jackie Burnett

Jackie serves as Office Administrator. Prior to affiliating with Watkins-Cooper-Lyon, she was a 31 year employee of Burlington Industries working most of that time in the Information Systems area. The daughter of former co-owners of WCL, Jack and Hilda Ligon, Jackie is a member of Clarksville Baptist Church where she sings in the choir. She and husband, Michael, enjoy spending time working on their farm and spending leisure time with Izzy and Cali, the rulers of their home.


Reverend Joseph Hinton  Tucker III

Reverend Joseph Hinton Tucker III


Carol J.  Henderson

Carol J. Henderson


Carol J. Henderson serves Watkins Cooper Lyon Funeral Home as a part-time Office Administrator. She also uses her musical talents on the piano and organ for service needs. As the daughter of Carl F. Becker, renowned violin maker, Carol began her musical studies at a very young age in Chicago, IL. She received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Sacred Music degrees from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. Carol has served churches in NJ, NC and VA for over 35 years, and since 2012, holds the position of Director of Music and Organist at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Halifax, VA. In 2013 she became the Director of the Southside Virginia Community College Chorus.
In 2000, she and her husband, Richard, “retired” to beautiful Southern Virginia. After a lifetime of working in securities, commodities and investments operations with Prudential, Rich began a second career as a Certified Lay Pastor with the Presbyterian Church in 2004. Carol and Rich reside on a picturesque farm in Buffalo Junction and enjoy the quiet blue sky and the green countryside.


Frankie  Talley

Frankie Talley

Frankie Talley is a lifelong resident of Clarksville. A former Burlington Industries employee, Frankie is a member of Clarksville Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon and sings in the choir. Since his retirement and joining the staff of Watkins-Cooper-Lyon, he has found a new calling in helping families in time of sorrow. He is a member of the Clarksville Ruritan Club but also has time to enjoy making his yard beautiful and helping to care for his three grandchildren, who live in Buffalo Junction. His wife, Nancy, is a retired teacher.


Ray  Mull

Ray Mull


John Archer  Ligon

John Archer Ligon, Funeral Assistant

Graduated from Bluestone High School in 1972 and earned a BS degree from Elon University. Archer retired from Virginia Department of Correntions in 2012. He is an active member of Jamieson Memorial United Methodist Church where he serves on the Staff Parrish Relations Committee. You will find Archer on any given day around town helping others.


Cordelia and Joe  Tucker

Cordelia and Joe Tucker

The Tuckers are the parents of Jane Tucker Lyon and upon retirement opted to express their talents with the family firm. Cordelia was employed with Duke Medical Center as an Administrative Assistant in the Dept. of Medicine for 36 years. Joe was with Liggett Myers Tobacco Company as a Machinist and served as President of the Tobacco Workers Union and retired after 36 years. Both have compassionate personalities and care about people who are grieving. They now serve in intricate roles at Watkins-Cooper-Lyon Funeral Home.