Our Staff

Our dedicated and supportive staff are here to guide you through this difficult journey. We take pride in doing our absolute best to ensure your needs are met.

Appalachian Funeral Services is jointly owned by David and Carmaletta Gates. 

David Gates
David Gates lives on Hemlock Street in Dillsboro. David comes from the Sylva area, the son of Harold and Ellen Gates. He attended the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, Sylva Webster High School, and Southwestern Community College. He was in business in the Sylva-Dillsboro area for over thirty years.  David has his commercial building license and has remodeled over twenty local homes as well as built nine new homes in the past fifteen years. He enjoys meeting and getting to know new people, as well as working with and restoring antique cars. David completed his internship to be a funeral director and obtained his funeral director's license in October 2015 (NC Lic. # 4136) from Fayetteville Community College.

David finished an autobiography of his life, The Way I See It​, early in 2019.  His book tells his story about growing up blind in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  

Carmaletta Gates
Dr. Carmaletta (Carrie) Gates is married to David. She is the daughter of John Lee (Bill) and Reba Harris of Wolf Creek, in the Canada Community. Carrie graduated from Camp Laboratory High School, Southwestern Community College, Western Carolina University, and obtained her Doctorate of Education from North Carolina State University. She has taught math for Western Carolina University and Southwestern Community College. For the past twenty plus years, Carrie has worked with the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) in Cullowhee and Ocracoke, NC. She was a Center Fellow with NCCAT, where she planned week-long interdisciplinary seminars for North Carolina public school teachers. Her seminars often highlighted local mountain culture such as quilting or storytelling as well as inclusive classrooms, everyday geometry and financial literacy. Carrie is the author of Granny's Stories: North Carolina Mountain Tales. She enjoys collecting both stories and art of the local area. Her hobbies include gardening, quilting, and photography. David and Carrie have two beautiful daughters,Sarah of Las Vegas, NV, and Ashley, who is currently attending The University of North Carolina Dental School in Chapel Hill, NC. Their eldest daughter, Carolyne passed aay in Oct. 2018 from complications of breast cancer.  Carrie finished her apprenticeship and obtained her Funeral Director license  (NC Lic # FD 4070) from Fayetteville Technical Community College in spring of 2013.  

Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy of Whittier is General Manager and Funeral Services Director of Appalachian Funeral Services (NC Lic # FS2072).  He is the son of the late Kevin P. and Ann I. Murphy of Melverne, NY. Paul received his Associate of Applied Science in Funeral Service degree from Fayetteville Technical Community College. He has worked in funeral service in Western North Carolina for the past 22 years. He has two children, Shannon in New Jersey, and Sean in Fairfax, VA.

Harold Crisp
Harold Crisp of Dillsboro is a Funeral Services Assistant at Appalachian. He is the son of the late Noah L. and Dicey A. Womack Crisp. Harold attended Sylva Central High School.  Harold drove a bus in high school and later became a long distance truck driver, spending a total of 55 years driving. He drove for Hennessee Hardwoods for 31 years.  He and his wife of 57 years, Shirley, attend Long Branch Baptist Church, where he is a deacon. They have a daughter, Karen, in Dillsboro.  Harold enjoys singing and performs at our annual memorial service each year.

Lynn Ashe
Lynn Ashe of Cullowhee is a Funeral Services Assistant at Appalachian.  He is the son of the late Berry and the late Hazel Ashe of Tuckasegee.  Lynn assists with services and also sets monuments for us.  Lynn graduated from Camp Laboratory High School in Cullowhee.  He and his wife Gail attend Wolf Creek, where he is a deacon. Gail enjoys singing and performs at our annual memorial service each year. They have two sons, Timothy and Christopher. 

Dennis Burrell
Dennis Burrell of Sylva is a Funeral Assistant at Appalachian. He is the son of the late J. C. and the late Berry Lewis Burrell.  He graduated Sylva Webster High School and has a Bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina University in Business Administration.  He worked for Wilson Insurance Agency for 12 years, and for Jackson Savings Bank for 28 years. He retired from Jackson as CEO and executive vice president.  He currently is pastor of Each Fork Baptist Church.  He and his wife of 43 years, Evelyn Kilby Burrell have two children, Kevin and Kelly, both of Sylva. 

Mike Deitz
Mike Deitz of Sylva is a Funeral Services Assistant at Appalachian.  He is the son of the late Sam and the late Ida Bell McConnell Deitz of Sylva.  He graduated Sylva Webster High School.  He has worked for 44 years in insurance, he is currently at Stanberry Insurance in Sylva.  He has spent 29 years in the military, serving in Vietnam and two tours in Iraq.  He has worked with local funeral homes for the past 14 years.  He and his wife of 40 years, Faye Jacobs, have two daughter, Mikki of Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Mandi of Boise, ID. They are members of Jarrett Memorial Baptist Church in Dillsboro. 

Ronda Woodard
Ronda Woodard of Sylva is a Funeral Services Assistant at Appalachian. She is the daughter of the late Johnny and the late Rhoda Cope Watson. Ronda has a Bachelors degree From Western Carolina University and taught mathematics at Smoky Mountain High School and at Western Carolina. After retirement she worked for Prentice Hall Publishing and the GEAR-UP program with Southwestern Community College. She plays piano here and at East Sylva Baptist Church, of which she is a member. She also helps with other funeral functions and payroll. Ronda has two daughters, Cathy Garren of Highlands and Lynn Ray of Canton.

David Oberley
David Oberley is a Funeral Services Director for Appalachian Funeral Services. He is the son of Tony and Sam Oberley. He is a 2006 graduate of Franklin High School.  He is a graduate of Gupton-Jones Mortuary School in Georgia.  David has eight years of experience in funeral service.