Christopher D. Burch

Chris has been with Burch Messier since it began in 2005. He started his career in funeral service after graduating from Parry McCluer High School, Buena Vista, Virginia in 1987. He served his apprenticeship at Lomax Funeral Home in Buena Vista where he was employed from November 1987 to January 1990. He graduated from Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service, Atlanta, Georgia in February 1991. Chris was employed by Carder-Tharp Funeral Home, Inc. (now Tharp Funeral Home) in Bedford from 1991 until late 2005. Chris is a member of Thaxton Baptist Church, the Loyal Order of Moose, Bedford Lodge #1897 as well as the Bedford Elks Lodge #2844. He has enjoyed working in the Bedford community, coaching children in softball and basketball with the Bedford Parks and Recreation Department. Chris is married to Betsy Wingfield Burch, and is the father of six children; Ryan, Andrew and Kelsey Oler, Ethan Stratton, Christopher Kincaid “Caid” Burch and his newest baby, Levi Fielding Burch. Chris is the managing partner of Burch-Messier Funeral Home and Cremation Service and oversees the day-to-day operations.


John P. Messier

John has over 30 years experience in funeral service. He started his employment with M.P. Carter Company Funeral Home (formerly Carter-Tharp Funeral Home, Inc. and now known as Tharp Funeral Home, Inc.) in January 1981 while he was a senior at Liberty High School in Bedford, Virginia. He apprenticed there from June 1981 to June 1983 and then entered New England Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, where he graduated Cum Laude with an A.S. in Mortuary Science in June, 1985. While in Boston, he was a contract employee of two funeral service firms. He returned to Carter-Tharp Funeral Home and became licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Funeral Service Licensee. He practiced funeral service with Carter-Tharp Funeral Home until January 1994 when he left to work in his family’s business, Southern Flavoring Company as V.P. of Marketing. He continues to work full time at Southern Flavoring Company in addition to helping out at Burch-Messier. John was an EMT for 12 years, is a 17-year member of the Bedford Life Saving Crew Board of Directors; a past member of the Board of Directors and officer of the Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce; member and Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Bedford; a communicant of Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church and has served on several boards, commissions and committees in the Bedford area. He is the husband of April and the proud father of P.C., Anna, Jamie, Scott and his newest baby, Benjamin Wayne Messier.  Since John still has his “day job”, he works with Chris, and the others when time (and kids’ activities) allow.  He is there in a moment’s notice, though, when families specifically request him.


Rounding out our team of employees are Barry Saunders, Carl Saunders, Penny Carter, Manila Faye Massie, Steve Boyer, Beth Foutz, Joe Dooley and Tammy Johnson.

Barry Saunders and Carl Saunders, better known as the “Saunders Boys” are both lifelong residents of Bedford and the proprietors of Coffey & Saunders Farm and Hardware, a fixture in the Bedford business community for many years. Barry and Carl are members of Thaxton Baptist Church, Life Members of the Bedford Life Saving & First Aid Crew and many other civic, service and fraternal organizations in the Bedford area.

Penny Carter had a successful career in banking and after retirement became a local representative for Woodmen of the World Insurance and Financial Services. Penny has played the organ for Epworth United Methodist Church for longer than she’d like to admit and is an integral part of our community through her service in many organizations.

Steve Boyer had a successful career as a coach, educator and administrator with Bedford County Public Schools. After retirement, Steve began helping out as a funeral assistant at Carder-Tharp Funeral Home, Inc. (now Tharp Funeral Home) and now he’s helping us! He also gets up early every morning to deliver lots of newspapers for the Roanoke Times. You can also find Steve mowing lawns around town with the Cutlers. He’s the original multi-tasker!

Manila Faye Massie is our newest member to join the Burch-Messier staff. Her warm personality, attention to detail and eagerness to help is a great asset to us and we are sure you will like her.

Tammy Johnson, a 1984 graduate of Liberty High School, has been employed at Liberty for 11 years. She is a member of Timber Ridge Baptist Church where she is head of the nursery and teaches Sunday School for the two and three year olds. She is married to Phillip Johnson and has one son, Derek. God, family and friends are very important in her life. She enjoys scrap booking, camping and spending time with family and friends.

John and Chris are honored to be assisted by Barry, Manila, Carl, Penny, Steve, Beth, Joe and Tammy on a part-time basis.