Bob Cortner’s story begins because of a chance meeting between a railroad worker from Bedford County and a young waitress from Cowan. They would eventually marry and give birth to a son named Bob.
Bob’s love for the area began during the summers when he would ride the train from Nashville to Decherd to spend time with his Grandparents, John and Betty Garner Prince. His grandfather was a blacksmith by trade and owned a shop in Winchester. Maybe this is where his hard work ethic began there at that blacksmith shop. There was a story told about Bob and some of his friends walking down the street as young boys. They came to the Moore Funeral Home and as Bob stood in front of the building, he said “I would like to work at a place like that someday”. Little did Bob know at the time how his story would end up.
Even though Bob spent his summers here in Franklin County, his family resided in Donaldson. Bob’s strong work ethic led him always to be busy and working whether it was delivering newspapers or as Bob said “ I ran the original weed eater. It was a sling blade that he used to cut grass on the side of Highway 100 coming out Nashville when he worked for the Highway Dept. as a teenager. Now let’s fast forward to Bob’s Sophomore Year of High School. Bob’s father suffered a devastating railroad injury that would end his career that would put a strain on the family financially. Bob had to find a way to help his family during this time. So, he had been hanging out at Hibbett, York & Haley Funeral Home hoping that they would hire him. Bob said “I showed up in a T-shirt, Blue Jeans and cowboy boots. I thought if I hung around long enough that they would hire me. To relieve some of the financial strain from his parents, Bob moved in to the spare apartment at the funeral home. During the summer between Jr and Senior year, Bob and some of his friends heard about a summer job opportunity in Washington State and so the boys decided they would hitch hike across the country. It sounded like a grand adventure. However, Bob said “We chickened out by Kansas, but we heard about another opportunity driving Combines to harvest the wheat in Enid, Oklahoma. So, that’s what they did. After arriving back for Senior year, the funeral home decided that they would start paying Bob to work there. I guess Bob’s plan and persistence paid off. This was a blessing as Bob was able to buy necessities as well as give money back to his parents
Upon graduating from High School, Bob enrolled at the Kentucky School of Mortuary Science. After graduating, Bob returned to Nashville to work at Hibbett York & Haley.
Bob’s work ethic and desire to serve others led him to join the Tennessee Air National Guard. Before leaving for Basic Training, Bob paid a visit to his mom and dad that had moved to Winchester. While in town, Bob also visited with Watson Moore to discuss opportunities there at the funeral home. Watson Moore said that they didn’t need any help at the time, so Bob made his way to Texas to begin his military training.
In September of 1965, Bob had finished his military training and was back in Nashville at Hibbett York & Haley. He received an interesting call from his mother. Sara Moore told that a lot of things have changed since Bob spoke to Mr. Moore last. She asked if Bob would come down to Sewanee Hospital to visit and have another discussion with her husband, Watson Moore. After Bob completed his training, he made his way back. He visited Watson Moore at the Sewanee Hospital. Upon arriving, Watson Moore said “Bob, a lot of things have changed since we last spoke. My dad has passed away and I have had a heart attack and the Doctors are telling me that I will not be able to work anymore. Bob, what would it take to get you to move down here and come to work at Moore Funeral Home? Bob replied “Its more than the money. You see, I’m not looking for a job but a future. Bob accepted the offer of $50 dollars a week to move to Winchester. He made his way back to Nashville to work out a notice at Hibbett York and Haley. During that time, he stayed in contact with Watson Moore by phone. Little did Bob know that the visit at Sewanee Hospital would be the last time he would see Watson Moore alive as he passed away three weeks later. Bob arrived at the Moore Funeral Home in October of 1965 to fulfill his agreement that he made with Watson Moore.
The spring of 1966 would be a season that would change everything for the 22-year-old Funeral Director. After the passing of Watson, his widow was faced with owning and operating a funeral home. Mrs. Moore decided the best thing to do would be to offer to sell 50% of the business to Bob with the promise to sell the remaining 50% of the business and the land to Bob at a later date So, on May 1st 1966 the sale was finalized and Bob assumed the day to day operation and the name changed to the name we know today, Moore Cortner Funeral Home.
1966 would continue to be a big year of change for Bob. Not only did he purchase a funeral home at the age of 22, he would also marry his high school classmate, June Gentry Cortner. June would also begin her service to the community by becoming a teacher at Franklin County High School. Bob and June stayed busy with the schedule of the Funeral Home and the High School but it would soon be interrupted in 1971 by the arrival of their son, Jim.
In 1973, Bob was approached with the opportunity to purchase Franklin Memorial Gardens. As Bob considered the purchase, his great friend and competitor Roy Watson came to mind. Bob decided that it would be best to include his friend in the venture. I am sure some thought that Bob was crazy to offer half of the cemetery to his competitor. However, Bob thought that it would be best for his friendship and for the community.
As the young boy stood in front of the funeral home and said “I would love to work at a place like that someday” I wonder if Bob would have thought in his wildest dreams that he would own the very funeral home that he stood in front of on that day. As the years have gone by more property has been bought to provide more parking, chapels have been added to serve more families, buildings have been remodeled to address the changing needs of the community. All these investments have been made as an answer to one question “How can we better serve the families of Franklin County. Bob’s vision carries on through his son Jim and his grandson Robert.
Bob attributes his success and longevity to serving others and just doing what’s right. When Bob was asked about his long career at the funeral home he simply said “If you love what you do then you will never work a day in your life.