Herrmann Funeral Home, established in 1931 by Art Herrmann and operated for the past 49 years by his son, John and John's wife, Karla, has been purchased by Jim Jones of Cambridge, Nebraska and will be known as Herrmann-Jones Funeral Chapel.
Jones, owner of Lockenour Jones Funeral Home in Cambridge, said he plans to continue the legacy of compassion and loyalty of John Herrman. John passed away June of this year, a month after his wife, Karla, died.
For 81 years, Herrmann Funeral Home has been a vibrant part of the McCook community, serving generations of families.
So it was critical to John and Karla's three daughters - Laurie Hansen, Sandy Gutierrez and Jauna McCormick, all of the Denver, Colorado, area - that if the funeral home was to continue, it would do so only with the empathy and service epitomized by their father.
"It's very important to us that (our parent's) legacy is continued. It was important for Mom and Dad to take care of the families and we know Jim will do the same thing," said Laurie Hansen,
John and Karla believed in the dignity of death as well as in life, said Sandy.
"There was a trust thing there, when people worked with Dad," she said. "His life-long work of serving will not be forgotten. He was here to do what the family wanted, not what he wanted. "
Jones said for him, operating a funeral home is more like a ministry or calling, rather than a business, with care and service being number one.
"We are working with people at the worst time of their lives. Decisions have to be made, important decisions in a relatively short amount of time. We're here to get them through that. Whether you have minimum service or top of the line, you still will get the same kind of compassionate service here."
Jones got into the funeral business in 1991, when he joined his father-in-law at Lockenour Jones. Learning the business from one of the old-timers made all the difference, he said.
"I learned a lot of compassion from him. The older funeral directors knew the importance of that, compared to some of these younger guys nowadays who are in it for the business."
He and his wife, Joyce, plan to keep the Cambridge funeral home open, along with Herrmann's in McCook and its chapels in Trenton and Culbertson.
"We're in it for the long haul," he said. Improvements he has planned for the McCook facility includes new carpet and other interior updates, enhancing the website, pre-need insurance funding and possibly pod casting of memorial services.
A life-long friendship forged
The plummeting U.S. economy in the early 1930s still had a few years to go before it hit rock bottom during the Great Depression, but that didn't stop young entrepreneurs like Art Herrmann who wanted to start a business of his own.
Herrmann was 23 years old when he first came to McCook in 1930. He was married to a friend of Kenneth Wherry, who later became a senator. Wherry told Herrmann to look up his friend, Harry Strunk, who established and published the McCook Daily Gazette and was a vibrant presence in the community.
According to Herrman, he visited Strunk's office and said, "Mr. Strunk, I am coming to McCook and our mutual friend, Kennth Wherry, said if I needed any advice out here to look up his friend, Harry Strunk." After visiting with him for while, Herrmann told Strunk he was going to open up a funeral home and was wondering "just what this territory had to offer."
Herrmann continued, "He looked at me and asked, 'What do you have to offer McCook?'"
In 1931, Herrmann operated the Gregg-Herrmann funeral home, on the 100 block of Norris Avenue. In 1936, he and Eugene Pade operated a funeral home and furniture store on the 200 block of Norris. In 1944, this partnership split up and Pade kept the furniture store and Herrmann moved the funeral home to it's present location, 607 Norris Ave. The building was formerly a large family residence and was updated, with a chapel added in 1974.
Herrmann's friendship with Strunk continued through the years and after Strunk's death, Herrmann spearheaded an effort to build a memorial for his friend. With funds from Strunks' many friends and with help from then-governor and former McCookite, Frank Morrison, a state roadside park along U.S. Highway 6-34, two miles east of McCook, was established as a tribute to Strunk for his persistent pursuit in establishing area lakes and dams for irrigation and flood control.
--Taken from "Centennial Edition, 1882-1982," McCook Daily Gazette