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

Our History

Smith, Bizzell & Warner opened its doors in 1921 at 2295 Washington Street, in Gary, Indiana. At that time it only had one owner, one employee and one name, Smith Funeral Home. The first owner of the funeral home was J. D. Smith, and he was the first and only full-time employee in 1921.  He built the Smith Funeral Home on Washington Street and established a reputation for giving impeccable and personalized service. This coupled with his overwhelming commitment to giving back to the Gary community spawned Smith Funeral Home's rapid growth. As a result, Benjamin Bizzell was asked to join the firm a few years later. When J. D. Smith passed away in 1943, Benjamin Bizzell became Manager of Smith Funeral Home and in 1959, after purchasing the Funeral Home from Mrs. Smith, Benjamin Bizzell added his name to the marquee and the Smith, Bizzell Funeral Home began continuing the legacy of integrity and quality service that J. D. Smith and Smith Funeral Home had already begun forty-eight years earlier. 

In 1972, Ede Warner purchased the thriving Smith Bizzell Funeral Home and by adding his name to the marquee, the Smith Bizzell & Warner Funeral Home as it is known today was born. For over fifty-one years, 2295 Washington Street had been the Funeral Home that J. D. Smith built. But growth sometimes necessitates expansion and in 1990 Ede Warner who had so successfully continued the legacy of the great Funeral Directors that preceded him, purchased the Sportsman's Club at 4209 Grant Street where Smith, Bizzell & Warner Funeral Home resides today. 

After fifty years of funeral service and in preparation for retirement, Ede Warner decided sell the funeral home to Concord Family Services, Inc., a funeral service management company serving primarily ethnic and culturally diverse communities. Through this new ownership, the legacy that was begun in 1921 by J. D. Smith, nurtured by Benjamin Bizzell and expanded by Ede Warner will continue and remain in the forefront of providing impeccable and personalized funeral service to the Gary and Northwestern Indiana communities. 

Smith, Bizzell & Warner Funeral Home has the distinguished honor of being the only funeral home in Gary, Indiana that is a member of the prestigious "Order of the Golden Rule".  Only sixteen funeral homes in the entire state of Indiana have this honor.  Membership in the "Order of the Golden Rule" simply put, says you are the "best of the best" in funeral service.

Today, Smith, Bizzell & Warner serves families of all nationalities, ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs with the utmost care and commitment.

Our Valued Staff

  • Sylvester Dunn

    Sylvester Dunn, General Manager, LFD

    Sylvester Dunn is the General Manager of Smith, Bizzell & Warner Funeral Home. He has over 30 years of funeral service experience as a Licensed Funeral Director, Embalmer, Manager and funeral home owner. He earned his Associates degree in Funeral Service Education from Vincennes University, Vincennes, Indiana.

    Sylvester was the first African American appointed Deputy Coroner in Vigo County, Indiana. He was also the second African American appointed by the Mayor of Terre Haute, Indiana to serve as a member of the Police Merit Board.

    Sylvester is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, the Indiana Funeral Directors Association, the Indiana Select Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, and the Illinois Select Funeral Directors and Morticians Association.

  • Anthony  Holmes

    Anthony Holmes, Licensed Funeral Director, Manager

    Anthony Holmes, is a Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer in Indiana and Illinois. He is the Care Center Manager of Smith, Bizzell & Warner. He received his Associates degree in Mortuary Science from Malcolm X College, Chicago, Illinois.

  • Lashenna  Hairston

    Lashenna Hairston, Licensed Funeral Director

    Lashenna Hairston is a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. She graduated with an Associates degree in Mortuary Science from the Malcolm X College School of Mortuary Science in Chicago, Illinois.

  • Kim Y. Milan- Banks

    Kim Y. Milan- Banks, Office Manager, Administrator

    Kim Y. Milan-Banks is a Gary, Indiana native and has been the Office Manager and Administrator for Smith, Bizzell & Warner for over 27 years. Mrs. Milan-Banks is a Sawyer Business College graduate.

  • Camellia L. Ridgell Robinson

    Camellia L. Ridgell Robinson, Director of Community Affairs, Hammond, East Chicago

    Camellia L. Ridgell Robinson is the Director of Community Affairs for the Hammond and East Chicago, Indiana communities. Camellia received an Associates degree in finance and accounting from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Purdue University - Calumet Campus in Hammond, Indiana.

    Camellia also serves as the Administrator for Smith, Bizzell & Warner's sister funeral home, Golden Gate Funeral Home located at 2036 W. 79th Street in Chicago, Illinois.

  • Sandi  Cogan

    Sandi Cogan, Director of Community Affairs

    Sandi Cogan is the Director of Community Affairs for Smith Bizzell & Warner Funeral Home. Prior to joining Smith Bizzell & Warner, Sandi served as a Director of Public Information and a Director of Special Events for the City of Gary. She also served as the Press Secretary for the Mayor of Gary and as the Executive Producer of the Gary Government Access Channel.

    Sandi attended Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois and is professionally trained as a Hospice Volunteer at Harborlight Hospice in Merrillville, Indiana.

  • Sharon D.  Vaughn

    Sharon D. Vaughn, Vice President

    Sharon D. Vaughn has over 30 years of funeral service management experience. She is the Vice President of Operations for Concord Family Services, Inc., the parent company of the Smith, Bizzell & Warner Funeral Home. Sharon earned her Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Kansas, at Lawrence. Sharon also has over 30 years of experience as an Advance Planning Specialist and trainer.

  • Audrey V. Thomas Hall

    Audrey V. Thomas Hall, Advanced Planning Specialist

    Audrey V. Thomas Hall is a Gary, Indiana native that has served as an Advance Planning Specialist with Smith, Bizzell and Warner Funeral Home for over 13 years. She brings over 40 years of customer service experience to her position as an Advanced Planning Specialist and a wealth of funeral service knowledge when it comes to helping Northwest Indiana’s families plan their final expenses in advance.

    Audrey is a graduate of Bryant and Stratton Business College in Chicago, Illinois, and is a Licensed Insurance Producer in Indiana and Illinois.