In 1902, William Alvis Rich left Baltimore,. Maryland and returned to his hometown of Graham, NC. With him were his wife Lettie McCoy Rich and a two-year-old son, Alvis M. Rich. W.A. Rich had gone to Baltimore to work and study the art of embalming and the business of funeral directing. Upon his return to Graham, he established the first professional and licensed business in Alamance County whose sole purpose was the caring for and burial of the dead. During the next eleven years Mr. W. A. Rich practiced his profession with his brother, James A. Rich.
William Alvis "W. A." Rich died in 1913. His brother James continued operating the business and was later joined by W. Ernest Thompson as a partner. In 1919 Alvis M. Rich, son of W.A., graduated from Brown's College of Embalming and followed the footsteps of his father, making the practice of funeral service his life career. In 1926 the funeral service was incorporated, with its owners being James H. Rich, Alvis M. Rich, W. Ernest Thompson and Charles A. Thompson. That same year, Rich & Thompson opened a location in Burlington. It was located on Church Street at the site of the present Duncan's Exxon Service Station. While the new business opened and became more and more successful in Burlington, the Graham branch continued operation until 1935. In the 1930's James Worth Rich, James H. Rich's son, joined the business. It was at this time that Frank M. Rich also joined the firm.