Our Staff

Our compassionate, knowledgeable team of professionals works around the clock to provide you and your loved ones with premium care. Let us walk you through making arrangements, answer any questions you may have, or assist in getting your loved one to a secure place; any time, day or night.

James E. Altmeyer, Jr. : President

James E. Altmeyer, Jr.

President

President of Altmeyer Funeral Homes & Crematory, graduated from Villanova University in Philadelphia, PA, in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. In 1989 he graduated from Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science with an Associate’s Degree in Mortuary Science. Jim and his wife, Jocelyn C. Altmeyer, have two sons, Simon Cameron and James Elijah and a daughter, Justine Virginia.

Jim says, “Being a part of the Altmeyer Funeral Home organization is a great experience. This is because of the excellent group of individuals who make up our team. These people strive to give the same service they would expect for their own family. This is why we believe our standard of service is so high.”

jimmy@altmeyer.com
Hamilton Jones : Vice President / General Manager / Funeral Director

Hamilton Jones

Vice President / General Manager / Funeral Director

Hamilton has worked in the funeral industry in North Carolina for many years. A Columbus County native, he received his Degree in Funeral Service from Fayetteville Technical Community College. He is a member of the Whiteville Masonic Lodge and Whiteville Civitans. In his spare time, Hamilton enjoys being on Lake Waccamaw with his children and friends.

Duane Howlett : Funeral Service Vice President & Funeral Director

Duane Howlett

Funeral Service Vice President & Funeral Director

A Wilmington native, Duane attended New Hanover High School before graduating from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. With over 36 years of experience, Duane has dedicated his life to serving families during their time of need.

Actively involved in his community, Duane is a member and Past Master of Wilmington Lodge #319 A.F. & A.M., Wilmington York Rite Masonic Bodies, Sudan Shrine Center in New Bern where he serves on the Widows Fund Board of Directors, a member and past Captain of the Sudan Drum & Bugle Corps, member and past Patron of AREME Chapter #372 Order of Eastern Star and member of the Arab Shrine Club in Wilmington. Very involved with the Arab Shrine Club, Duane has served on the annual Fish Fry Committee as a site location Chairman for over 30 years.

Professionally, he is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association and the North Carolina Funeral Directors Association and is currently serving on the Board of Directors.

He and his wife are members of Red Hill Pentecostal Church in Freeman.

Matt Payne : Funeral Director / Care Center Manager

Matt Payne

Funeral Director / Care Center Manager

Born in Wilmington, Matt was raised in Hickory, North Carolina. He received his Degree in Funeral Service from Fayetteville Technical Community College after serving his country in the 82nd Airborne. Passionate about helping others, he worked in nursing before joining the Wilmington Funeral & Cremation staff. In his spare time, Matt enjoys playing with his dogs, fishing, and being with family and friends.

Crystal Ashley : Outreach Director/ Funeral Director

Crystal Ashley

Outreach Director/ Funeral Director

In 2007, Crystal received her Degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. She served as a Social Worker and Activity Director at a local skilled nursing center before joining the Wilmington Funeral & Cremation staff. Her desire to aid others and nourish her Wilmington community is evident in the work she does each and every day. She is a mother of two and has a dog, named Chile.

Colleen Heck : Funeral Director

Colleen Heck

Funeral Director

Colleen has served on the Wilmington Funeral & Cremation staff since 2014. A California native, she moved to Wilmington in 1994. Colleen graduated from San Jose State University with a Degree in Business Administration in 1984 and has worked in business administration at various companies and banks. A member of College Acres Baptist Church, Colleen is very involved in the choir and children’s ministry. She is a mother of two; her son attends NCSU and her daughter CFCC.

She is a certified Life Celebrant who loves helping families created personalized and heartfelt celebrations of their loved one’s lives.

Brian King : Funeral Director

Brian King

Funeral Director

With over 50 years experience in the funeral industry, Brian knew this was his career choice at age 16. After serving his county in the US Air Force, he received his degree from the New England Institute of Mortuary Science. For many years he owned and operated his own funeral home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and was active in The Rotary Club and served as President. Brian is all about service to the families he serves and has a very warm and caring way of helping families who are experiencing the loss of a loved one. In his spare time he enjoys the beach, spending time with his family and friends and playing with his dogs.

Kindal Blanks : Funeral Director

Kindal Blanks

Funeral Director

Kindal, a graduate of West Bladen High School, attends Fayetteville Technical College pursuing his associate’s degree in Funeral Service. He entered the funeral home industry in 2010. Since a young age, he has felt that God called him into the funeral profession to help families in the most difficult times of their lives. He truly feels that God has given him the gifts and abilities to do so.

kindalblanks@wilmingtoncares.com
Doug Bevell : Founder, Vice President & Funeral Director

Doug Bevell

Founder, Vice President & Funeral Director

Doug Bevell is the founder of Wilmington Funeral & Cremation. He began a career in the funeral service profession in South Hill, Virginia with the former Crews Funeral Home and later served his apprenticeship with Oakey Funeral Service in Roanoke, Virginia. He was a 1981 graduate from Gupton-Jones College of Mortuary Science in Atlanta, Georgia.

After numerous years of service in the Southside Virginia community where he quickly learned the importance of giving a helping hand as a lifetime member and a former Captain of the Chase City Volunteer Rescue Squad. He served the community with dignity and respect for over 30 years and was past president of the Chase City Jaycees.

After running several successful funeral homes and before returning permanently to Wilmington in the early 1990s, Doug has shown both passion and heart as a member of the community and as a funeral home owner for those in need. His goal has been to serve families during the most difficult times during their life and so he created Wilmington Funeral & Cremation to change the face of funeral service in Wilmington and the surrounding areas.

Doug continues his passion and life long dream of serving families as a North Carolina licensed funeral director, licensee Crematory operator and a certified Life Celebrant. He is also a member of the North Carolina Funeral Directors Association, as well as the National Funeral Directors Association, a member of the Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, and the Wilmington Cape Fear Rotary club where he serves on the board of directors, as well as Creekside Yacht Club where he enjoys his time in his boat on the waters of the Cape Fear when not involved in the daily operations of the funeral home.

Jesse Bessette : Funeral Director/Pre-Planning Coordinator

Jesse Bessette

Funeral Director/Pre-Planning Coordinator

After seven successful years assisting Wilmington area families with their cemetery arrangements Jesse joined our team in July of 2020. He specializes in helping families make their arrangements before the time of need. This eases the burden greatly when our services are required. He looks forward to the new opportunities here as well as sharing the wide variety of options available at Wilmington Funeral and Cremation. When he is away from work his greatest joy is spending time with his foster children as they come and go. He and his wife Nancy have been licensed foster parents since 2017.

jbessette@wilmingtoncares.com
Samantha Kroes : Funeral Director

Samantha Kroes

Funeral Director

Samantha has been a Wilmington native since the early 1990s and has seen how much this city has grown. She wanted to serve her community and found that opportunity through Funeral Service. Samantha graduated from Fayetteville Technical Community College in 2021, the same year she came to work with Wilmington Funeral & Cremation. She is a dually licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer, as well as a Certified Crematory Operator. She assists as part of the Care Team, as well. Samantha has the drive to strive for excellence in caring for families and their loved ones entrusted in her care. She goes above and beyond to make one of the most difficult times in one's life as seamless and smooth as possible. Samantha is caring, compassionate, and dedicated to the profession of Funeral Service.

Jeffrey M Rynaski : Funeral Director

Jeffrey M Rynaski

Funeral Director

A native of central Connecticut, attended Central Connecticut State University and graduated from the New England Institute, formerly of Boston. He served his apprenticeship and worked for the Wallingford and Yalesville Funeral Homes until relocating to North Carolina. He worked in Rocky Mount, Wilson, and Wilmington before joining the Johnson team in 2021.

Chelsea Stygles-Ward : Funeral Director

Chelsea Stygles-Ward

Funeral Director

Chelsea was born and raised in Milton, Vermont. As junior in high school she discovered the funeral service field and since then it has been a calling to serve families. In 2015 she graduated from Gupton Jones College of Funeral Service. She currently lives here in Wilmington with her husband Jon, and two cats Jupiter and Venus. Chelsea loves animals and hopes one day be an animal foster or start a cat hospice home. She also enjoys going for bike rides, crafts with friends, and eating, sushi and sweets are at the top of her list.

In Memory of – Michael Gubista : Funeral Director

In Memory of – Michael Gubista

Funeral Director

With over 37 years of experience in funeral industry, Michael brings warmth, comfort, and a touch of light to the families he serves. He received his Degree in Funeral Service from American Academy McAllister Institute of New York. For many years he owned and operated his own funeral home in Brooklyn, before relocating to Wilmington and joining our Wilmington Funeral & Cremation family. In his spare time, he enjoys being on the beautiful North Carolina beaches.

Nick Stauble : Crematory Operator/ Funeral Director Apprentice

Nick Stauble

Crematory Operator/ Funeral Director Apprentice

Nick has been a lifelong resident of the City of Wilmington. He has spent the past ten years in the funeral industry, serving his community with the highest level of compassion and kindness. He attended both Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington and then later attended Fayetteville Technical Community College where he studied funeral service after being in the business for a number of years already.

In his spare time, he enjoys the local beaches and the disc golf courses as well. His hobbies include being a phenomenal baker and a world traveler with having visited 15 countries and over 20 states. He has been studying the German language for the past three years and plans to use that knowledge to continue his travels abroad.

Shea Smith : Bookkeeper/Office Manager

Shea Smith

Bookkeeper/Office Manager

Shea moved to Wilmington in 2010 and started working as a Paralegal soon after graduation. Throughout her time in the legal field, she realized that she was more interested in the business aspect of the position so she switched careers to become an Accounts Receivable/Accounts Payable Specialist. She has over 10 years of experience in Accounting and hopes that her experience shows throughout her career as our Bookkeeper/Office Manager here at Wilmington, Funeral and Cremation.

Raymond Brown : Digital Media Associate

Raymond Brown

Digital Media Associate

Born and raised in Wilmington, Raymond Brown received his Degree in Digital Design from The Art Institute of Charlotte in Charlotte, NC in 2005. He worked as a freelancer graphic designer for over 10 years. After moving back home, to Wilmington, he joined the Wilmington Funeral & Cremation staff. In his spare time he enjoys drawing and spending time with his wife and three children.

Don High : Funeral Attendant/Administrative Associate

Don High

Funeral Attendant/Administrative Associate

Brenda Coleman : Administrative Associate

Brenda Coleman

Administrative Associate

Linda Register : Administrative Associate/Life Celebrant

Linda Register

Administrative Associate/Life Celebrant

Diane Winstead : Administrative Associate

Diane Winstead

Administrative Associate

Dan Webb : Funeral Attendant

Dan Webb

Funeral Attendant

Harley : K-9 Greeter

Harley

K-9 Greeter

In Memory of Dexter : K-9 Greeter

In Memory of Dexter

K-9 Greeter