Wednesday, April 16, 2014
While we in Naperville enjoy our reputation as active members of the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor, we also love our history. So it’s no surprise that our business community reflects the same innovation and traditional ties.
Historically, woodworkers who normally crafted furniture and cabinetry also made coffins when the need arose. Serving as the community’s undertaker became a logical second profession.
In the early twentieth century, undertakers could be counted on to have a vehicle long enough to transport a body on a stretcher, so their hearses often pulled double duty as the city’s ambulance service as well.
Oliver and Arthur Beidelman were brothers who worked for their uncle Fred Long and Long’s partner Peter Kroehler at their furniture and under-taking business on Washington and Jackson.
At one point a chapel was added to the building specifically for funeral services. The Fitness Experts are currently in the chapel’s ground floor.
Oliver’s son took over the funeral parlor operations with partner John Kunsch and his granddaughter continues to run the family furniture business.
Charles Friedrich was another such furniture maker and undertaker who had a shop on Jefferson Street. In the 1930’s he moved his business to Henry Durrand’s expansive home on Mill Street. Friedrich’s son Ben continued operating the funeral home after his father died and eventually hired an assistant in 1967 named Ray Jones.
After Ben Friedrich’s passed, Jones purchased the business, adding his name to Friedrich’s and keeping the beautiful Mill Street house. Son Dave and daughter Stephanie are now part of the Friedrich-Jones team. Ray Jones was honored by the Naperville Chamber with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 .
The funeral director profession certainly has changed over the years, but service to our community obviously has not!